November 20, 1999. Northern Arizona
volleyball captures its first and only Big Sky Championship sending
the Lumberjacks to the Women’s Division I NCAA Championships
in College Station, Texas. A decade later, the 1999 NAU volleyball team
remains the most successful in program history and will become the
13th team to be inducted into the NAU Athletics Hall of Fame.
“It’s really a great honor anytime a team is recognized as a whole and asked to come back and celebrate that,” said former head coach Kelley McKee, the former Kelley Sliva who is married and resides in Casa Grande, Ariz., with her husband, Vince.
The 1999 NAU women’s volleyball team was not destined for greatness. It was a team that when presented with obstacles rose to the occasion and capitalized on those opportunities. It was a team picked third in the preseason conference poll and seeded fourth in the conference championships after a 10-6 finish in Big Sky play.
“We were clearly the underdogs and loved every minute of it,” said McKee, the 1999 Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year. “It was one of those things we thrived on.”
The 1999 Lumberjacks fought for everything they earned that year. After opening the conference season 10-3, NAU dropped its final three conferences matches and settled for a No. 4 seed in the tournament. In order to reach the NCAA tournament, NAU would need three wins with the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds receiving byes.
“I really didn’t think this was going to be our year,” said current assistant coach Megan Greene who was a sophomore middle blocker on the 1999 team. “We were a young team. We were really good the next couple of years too. It all just happened to come together that year.”
The Lumberjacks topped the No. 5 seed Montana in four sets, upset No. 2 Eastern Washington (3-1) setting up a championship match against No. 6 Cal State Northridge, a team the Lumberjacks had defeated twice in the regular season.
Cal State Northridge dominated the first set (15-3), but NAU regrouped and pulled out the five set win, a microcosm of the Lumberjacks’ determination and resiliency all season.
“They made big plays at big times,” said McKee. “It wasn’t a junior or senior-laden team with a lot of wins under their belt. They were gritty. What became obvious to me was it doesn’t matter how old you are to win. You can be young and talented and you can win. That’s what they were.”
The 1999 Lumberjacks earned what no other NAU volleyball team had prior to 1999 or since: a Big Sky title and the right to play in the NCAA Championships. NAU faced No. 23 North Carolina and fell 3-0 ending its season with a 19-10 record, the second-best win percentage (.655) and total number of wins all-time.
Even with the success on the court, the story remains the team. The 1999 Lumberjacks were a collection of individuals that gelled at the right place at the right time.
“They had an amazing ability to make adjustments in the middle of a game,” said McKee who listed a collection of idiosyncrasies that aligned into a pattern for success. “They had a really high volleyball IQ. When you have a team that has great thinkers with talented athletes that combination made it a really special group.”
May 2, 2010 Athletics Department Hands Out Annual Awards
March 26, 2010 Spring Breakin with Soccer and Volleyball
March 16, 2010 Volleyball Announces Spring Schedule
February 2, 2010 Volleyball Team Earns Seven All-Academic Selections
December 9, 2009 NAU Athletics Conducting Toy Drive for Salvation Army
November 27, 2009 Volleyballs Dallmann Named Outstanding Freshman
November 19, 2009 Volleyball to Close Season at Northern Colorado
November 16, 2009 Volleyball Signs One, Small to Join Lumberjack Roster in 2010
November 14, 2009 Volleyball Drops 3-0 Decision at Eastern Washington
November 13, 2009 Volleyball Swept by Portland State, Dallmann Puts Up Double-Double
November 6, 2009 Lumberjacks Sweep Montana State, Will Face Montana on Saturday
November 4, 2009 Volleyball Closes Home Schedule with Montana State and Montana
October 31, 2009 Missed Opportunities for Volleyball in 3-1 Defeat
October 31, 2009 Volleyball Tops Weber State, Big Sky Race Heats Up
October 29, 2009 Pair of Matches for Volleyball on the Road
October 22, 2009 Volleyball Unable to Fight Off Sacramento State
October 21, 2009 Volleyball Gets Sacramento State at Home on Thursday
October 17, 2009 Volleyballs Win Streak Snapped by Portland State
October 10, 2009 Volleyball Notches Second Conference Win
October 9, 2009 Volleyball Falls 3-0 to Montana
October 8, 2009 Volleyball to Play Pair of Matches in Montana
October 3, 2009 NAU Volleyball Held Off by Northern Colorado
October 2, 2009 Volleyball Hosts Northern Colorado on Saturday Night
September 25, 2009 Volleyball Pushes Sacramento State Throughout in Four-Set Defeat
September 24, 2009 10 Questions with Volleyball's Anna Gott
September 22, 2009 Volleyball Travels to Sacramento State
September 19, 2009 Volleyball Collects First Conference Win Against Weber State
September 18, 2009 Lumberjacks Fall in Four Sets to Idaho State, Dallmann Posts Triple-Double
September 17, 2009 Volleyball Starts Conference Play with Idaho State and Weber State
September 11, 2009 Volleyball Rallies to a Fifth-Set, Falls 3-2 to Wyoming in Home Opener
September 9, 2009 Volleyball Set to Host 2009 Fiesta Bowl Tournament
September 5, 2009 Volleyball Defeated by No. 16 USC in Trojan Invitational Finale
September 3, 2009 Volleyball Drops 3-0 Match to No. 21 Pepperdine at Trojan Invitational
September 2, 2009 Volleyball Travels to Trojan Invitational
August 30, 2009 Volleyball Defeated by Tulsa 3-0 to Close Bronco Invitational
August 29, 2009 Volleyball Suffers First Loss at Bronco Invitational
August 28, 2009 Volleyball Tops Boise State at Bronco Invitational
August 26, 2009 Volleyball to Play in 2009 Boise State Invitational
August 12, 2009 Volleyball Season Preview: Young Squad Gears up for 2009
August 9, 2009 2009 Athletics Hall of Fame Recipients Announced
July 31, 2009 Volleyball Earns AVCA Team Academic Award