GRAND FORKS, N.D.-- Host North Dakota suffered just its second league setback with a 3-1 loss to Northern Colorado Friday evening at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in Big Sky Conference play. UND also dropped its first home match since Aug. 31.
UND (18-9, 13-2) was paced by Ronni Munkeby's 15 kills with 12 from Anna Pioske and 10 more from Lisa Parlich.
UNC (10-15, 6-9) was led by Kendra Cunningham's 14 kills. Merideth Johnson added 30 digs for the Bears, who kept their postseason hopes alive, currently sitting in seventh place in the league standings.
NC took a 15-10 lead in the first set forcing a UND timeout. Out of the break, North Dakota got re-energized with back-to-back kills from Munkeby and a McKenzie Hart service ace as it closed within one.
Later, Hart had a pair of spectacular digs to keep a rally alive that Parlich finally ended with one of her 10 kills. With the score 23-19 Bears, Hart came in off the bench on the left side and hammered home a kill to jumpstart another run that saw UND score three straight for a UNC timeout. The Bears would escape the first set with a 25-23 victory in the first set, holding UND to .078 hitting.
That theme would permeate the box score as UND hit just .000 in each of the second and fourth sets. The only set that UND hit well was the third set, a frame that saw only one North Dakota error and a .424 hitting percentage for the home team.
Despite not hitting well in the second set, UND still led 17-16 after a Parlich kill. From there, however, NC embarked on a quick 4-0 run and was able to seal the victory, 25-22, to take a two sets to none lead.
UND wasted little time gaining the edge in the third set, taking an 8-4 advantage and never looking back. The final points came on Parlich and Pioske teaming for one of two blocks in the final three points as UND won the set, 25-19, and attempted to force a fifth set for the fourth straight time against NC in Big Sky Conference play.
Northern Colorado responded by turning a 9-8 deficit into a 20-10 lead with six UND attack errors in that stretch. NC closed the set and the match with a 25-15 win to end North Dakota's four-match win streak and handing UND just its second loss in its last 16 matches.
Hart had seven kills, three aces and 11 kills for UND. Nikki Husfeldt had 39 assists and 17 digs.
North Dakota remains in first place in the league by a game over Portland State and hosts Sacramento State Saturday night at the Betty. First serve is slated for 7:00 p.m.