FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona volleyball heads back on the road for matches at Eastern Washington and Portland State this weekend. The Lumberjacks play Eastern Washington on Friday, October 15 at 7 p.m. and Portland State on Saturday, October 16 at 8 p.m.
NAU (7-9, 3-3 BSC) split matches last week at home against Montana and Montana State. The Lumberjacks lost a close five-set match to Montana but swept Montana State to even its Big Sky record at 3-3. NAU is fifth in the Big Sky Conference through six matches this season.
Eastern Washington (3-13, 2-4 BSC) started the Big Sky Conference season 2-2 after opening the non-conference season 1-8. In its last three matches, Eastern Washington has gone 0-3 falling to league opponents, Sacramento State and Portland State, and non-conference opponent Seattle. The Eagles are 2-1 at home this season and 2-0 in conference play.
Portland State (10-7, 5-1 BSC) is 8-1 in their last nine matches putting together a five-match win streak from September 11 to September 25. The Vikings only loss in league play came at Sacramento State in five sets. Last week, Portland State swept Seattle and Eastern Washington at home. The Vikings are 4-2 at home this season and hold a 4-0 record at home in Big Sky play.
Last Thursday: Montana
Sophomores Lauren Campbell and Jen Wilson totaled 18 kills apiece but Northern Arizona volleyball came up just short in a 3-2 loss to Montana at the Rolle Activity Center. NAU came out fast in the first set hitting .265 as a team and limiting Montana to -.027 during the set. Montana evened the match at 1-1 in the second set despite another strong effort from the Lumberjacks. The Lumberjacks jumped ahead 2-1 in the third but Montana followed suit in the fourth pushing the match to a deciding fifth set. NAU jumped ahead, 3-0, before a 6-1 run by Montana but the Grizzlies up 6-4. NAU stayed within two points of the Grizzlies till a 5-2 run put the Lumberjacks ahead 12-11 with three kills from Campbell, one from Wilson, and one from senior Chelsea Cheeley. Montana answered back preventing NAU from scoring another point closing the match with four straight points. NAU finished with a .163 hitting percentage while Montana ended the match hitting .191 as a team. Campbell turned in her best performance of the season tying a match-high in kills and hitting .229 on the night. Wilson reset her career-high in kills, two more than her previous best. Cheeley had a game-high .538 hitting percentage converting 9-of-13 attacks.
Last Saturday: Montana State
Freshman Niki Small posted a match-high 11 kills with a .526 hitting percentage helping Northern Arizona volleyball beat Montana State, 3-0, at the Rolle Activity Center. Small turned in the second highest hitting percentage of her young career converting 11-of-19 attacks on the night with only one error. NAU suffered a narrow 3-2 loss to Montana on Thursday night but answered back on Saturday with its most impressive conference win of the season. The Lumberjacks hit .333 as a team, its highest total of the year, and limited Montana State to a .120 team hitting percentage. Along with Small, senior Chelsea Cheeley and sophomores Kelli Dallmann and Lauren Campbell all had big nights for the Lumberjacks. Cheeley recorded nine kills with a career-high .727 hitting percentage. Dallmann totaled the match's only double-double with 41 assists and 13 digs, her second straight and seventh of the year, while Campbell added in 10 kills.
Kelli Dallmann helped NAU even its conference record at 3-3 averaging 11.38 assists per set this past week. The sophomore setter turned in 50 assists and 16 digs against Montana and the 41 assists and 13 digs against Montana State.
Last Away Match
Lauren Campbell recorded nine kills with a .261 hitting percentage at Northern Colorado on October 2. The sophomore outside hitter also added one assist, service ace, and dig on the night.
Senior Chelsea Cheeley and sophomore Kelli Dallmann are leading the Big Sky during the conference season in hitting percentage and assists, respectively. Cheeley is hitting .420 through six conference matches while Dallmann is the only player in the league average double digits in assists with 10.27.
Holding Strong at Home
The Lumberjacks have amassed a 5-1 record at home this fall, the second most wins of any team in the Big Sky Conference. NAU's only defeat came this past week in a narrow five-set defeat against Montana.
Class in Session
Freshman Niki Small, sophomores Kelli Dallmann and Anna Gott lead their respective classes in the Big Sky Conference's offensive categories. Small leads all freshman with a .266 hitting percentage, Dallmann leads all sophomores with 9.82 assists per set and Gott leads all sophomores with 4.25 digs per set.
Kelli Dallmann is one of six players in the Big Sky Conference this season to have five or more double doubles. The sophomore setter picked up her sixth and seventh double-doubles against Montana and Montana State this past week.
Big Sky Leaders
Five Lumberjacks rank among the top statistical leaders in the Big Sky Conference. Sophomore Kelli Dallmann is first in the conference with 9.82 assists per set. Sophomore Anna Gott is fourth in the league with 4.25 digs per set and fourth in the Big Sky with 0.33 service aces per set. Freshman Niki Small is fourth in hitting percentage at .266 and freshman Keely Stevenson is eighth with 0.28 service aces per set. Junior Kobi Christensen is 10th in kills per set with 2.73.
The Lumberjacks are 21-32 all-time against Eastern Washington in a series that dates back to 1986. NAU lost its last match to the Eagles, 3-0. The women are 15-13 all-time against Sacramento State since their first meeting in 1996. NAU previously held a 15-2 record against the Vikings but have since lost the last 11 decisions.
Head Coach Craig Choate won his 300th career match against Maryland Eastern Shore on Saturday, September 4. Choate has coached at New Mexico State (1990-93), San Jose State (1993-07), and is in his third year at Northern Arizona. He has amassed a career record of 298-286.
Feasted at Fiesta
Junior outside hitter Kobi Christensen received the Fiesta Bowl Volleyball Tournament Most Valuable Player after leading all players in hitting percentage and kills in each of Northern Arizona's three matches. She totaled 48 kills on 78 attacks over the weekend with only 11 errors. The native of Kelowna, B.C., Canada averaged a .474 hitting percentage with 4.80 kills per set with 1.20 digs per set during the tournament.
Small Only in Name
In her first collegiate tournament, freshman Niki Small earned All-Tournament team honors at the UniWyo Wyoming Invite. Small started all four matches and played in all 15 sets as NAU went 1-3 with a win over Murray State (3-1) and losses to Central Arkansas (3-0), Southern Utah (3-2), and Wyoming (3-0). Small posted a .363 hitting percentage, with 2.47 kills per set. The freshman from Ashland, Ore., also totaled 0.67 blocks per set. She led the team in hitting percentage during the tournament.
Back to Full Strength
Sophomore Lexi Sullivan played her first match in 343 days after suffering a knee injury last fall on September 17 at home against Idaho State. Sullivan received a medical hardship in 2009 and returned against Central Arkansas on August 27. She posted a team-high 10 kills and .192 hitting percentage. She led NAU in kills in three of the Lumberjacks' four matches at the UniWyo Wyoming Invite.
The Lumberjacks practice Monday-Thursday from 2-4:30 p.m. in the Rolle Activity Center. Media seeking admittance need to contact Joe Scacco by phone at 928-523-6330 or by email at Joe.Scacco@nau.edu.
What is the history of Northern Arizona volleyball? We're glad you asked. Going back to the old AIAW days, NAU has been a player in women's intercollegiate athletics for 35 years. In its 23 years in the NCAA, NAU has posted nine winning seasons and 15 with double digit wins. The Lumberjacks have reached the postseason 14 of the past 19 years. In 1999, NAU went to the NCAA tournament suffering a 3-0 loss to No. 5 North Carolina.