GREELEY, Colo. – After Northern Colorado outlasted Northern Arizona for a 27-25 first set win, the Bears controlled the second set and pulled away late in the third set to complete a 3-0 sweep of the Lumberjacks on Saturday night in Greeley (27-25, 25-24, 25-20). The loss was just the second of the season, and the first sweep, for NAU, dropping the Lumberjacks to 13-2 overall and 4-2 in the Big Sky while the Bears moved to 11-6 overall and 5-1 in conference play to remain in first place in the Big Sky.
The match started 25 minutes late and was moved to an auxiliary gym after the Bear's normal home, Butler-Hancock Pavilion, sustained water damage.
"We just got beat by the better team tonight; there's a reason every coach picked them to win the conference," said head coach Craig Choate. "We were able to get two wins on this long road trip and now we get to go back home. I told the team 'if we can hold court at home next week we will be in great shape', and I think we will be able to rebound."
Neither team led by more than four points throughout the first set, as NAU erased a 20-16 deficit to pull even at 22-22. The Bears failed to convert on two match points, bringing the set even at 25-25, but Northern Colorado would then get a kill from Andrea Spaustat and a block from Alyssa Wilson to take the set.
The Bears dominated the second set from the onset, hitting .429 while limiting NAU to a .067 hitting percentage, to take a 25-14 win. In the third, NAU took an early 5-1 lead, its biggest advantage of the match, but the Bears rallied back to even the score at 8-8. After UNC had a slim advantage at 21-19, the Bears closed with a 4-1 run the take the set and complete the sweep.
NAU hit a season-worst .095 for the match, its first match of the season with a hitting percentage below .130, as the Bears totaled 11 team blocks and hit .246 offensively. Junior Jen Wilson led the team with 11 kills on a .286 hitting percentage and added four blocks, and senior Kobi Christensen totaled four kills in her first significant game action since sustaining an injury in mid September. Junior setter Kelli Dallmann totaled 28 assists and eight digs, while junior libero Anna Gott paced the team with 12 digs. Northern Colorado setter Marissa Hughes had 42 assists and 13 digs for the only double-double of the match.
The Lumberjacks will return home to host Idaho State on Thursday at 7:30 in what will be their first home match since September 17. The match will be televised live on Fox Sports Arizona, Fox College Sports Pacific, and NAU-TV.