FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona (13-1, 4-1 BSC) and Northern Colorado (10-6, 4-1 BSC), tied for first place in the Big Sky Conference, will meet for the first time this season on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Greeley, Colo. After dropping their first match of the season at Portland State last Thursday, NAU rebounded with a win over Eastern Washington on Saturday to join Northern Colorado, which was picked to win the Big Sky in the preseason coaches' poll, atop the conference standings.
The Lumberjacks will close a four match road trip on Saturday in Greeley, their longest road trip since 2006. Playing on the road for three consecutive weeks, NAU will not have a home match between September 17 and October 13, a stretch of 25 days that is the longest break between home matches in a season in program history. By the completion of their trip to Northern Colorado this weekend, the team will have flown 5,516 miles over the three weeks between home matches.
Despite the challenging schedule, the Lumberjacks remained undefeated until dropping their first match of the season at Portland State last Thursday, ending their school record season start at 12-0. The incredible start to the season was also the longest winning streak in program history, and only two NCAA Division-I teams in the country remained undefeated longer this season than the Lumberjacks. NAU is now one of only 11 teams in the country that have one loss or fewer on the season, and the Lumberjacks are tied for eighth in the NCAA in winning percentage (.929).
After dropping their first match of the season and then trailing 2-0 at Eastern Washington last Saturday, the Lumberjacks rebounded in a big way. After the intermission in Cheney, NAU took the third set, 25-19, battled for a 25-22 fourth set win, and limited the Eagles to a -.037 hitting percentage in the fifth set for a 15-12 win and a match victory. Saturday's rally was the second time this season that the Lumberjacks came back from a 2-0 deficit, having also battled back from down 2-0 to defeat Illinois State. NAU is a perfect 5-0 in five-set matches this season.
Northern Colorado has played the same conference foes as NAU thus far, dropping their only Big Sky match at Sacramento State (3-0). The Bears are 4-1 at home in 2011, with their only home loss coming in five sets to 16-3 UC Davis. Northern Colorado was picked to win the Big Sky in the preseason coaches' poll, having garnered 63 total points and seven of nine first place votes. The Bears lost to Wyoming, 3-1, in Greeley on Wednesday.
UNC leads the conference in hitting percentage (.239), kills (13.82/set) and assists (13.05/set) and is second in digs (16.72/set). Individually, Junior Kelley Arnold, who is the reigning Big Sky Player of the Week, leads the Big Sky in kills (3.77/set) while senior Amanda Arterburn is second in digs (4.98/set). Northern Arizona is 6-9 all-time against Northern Colorado, with the Bears winning the last four matches.
In two matches, and nine sets, last weekend, junior libero Anna Gott totaled 58 digs, including a career high 34 digs in NAU's win over Eastern Washington. That total tied for the fourth most in a match in program history and was the highest total since 2008. Gott began the weekend with 24 digs against Portland State, and averaged 6.44 digs per set for the trip. She has double-digit digs in 11 matches this season, including five matches with 20 or more digs.
Junior setter Kelli Dallmann posted two more double-doubles last week and has recorded double-doubles in three straight matches and six of her last eight contests. Dallmann, who has been named Big Sky Player of the Week twice this season, began the week leading the conference with 10.46 assists per set and is third in the conference with 0.29 service aces per set while also contributing 2.70 digs per set, 0.73 blocks per set, and 28 kills. In conference play, the reigning All-Big Sky second team selection is averaging 10.48 assists, 2.62 digs, and 0.86 blocks per set with four service aces and eight kills, proving to be among the most dynamic players in the conference.
NAU Volleyball Best Season Records (Through 14 Matches)
Year Record Finish
2011 - 13-1 - ???
1991 - 13-1 - 26-8, NIVC Championship Participant
1983 - 12-2 - 19-10
2008 - 11-3 - 15-10
1992 - 11-3 - 17-11
1981 - 11-3 - 12-11