FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – After the longest break between home matches in a season in program history, the NAU volleyball team (13-2, 4-2 BSC) returns to Flagstaff for a pair of matches this week against Idaho State (9-8, 3-3 BSC) at 7:30 Thursday and Weber State (0-18, 0-6 BSC) at 7:00 Saturday. Both matches will be televised live on Fox College Sports, with Thursday's match also to air live on Fox Sports Arizona. NAU is one of 13 NCAA Division-I teams with two losses or fewer this season.
The Lumberjacks closed a four match road trip on Saturday at Northern Colorado, their longest road trip since 2006. Playing on the road for three consecutive weeks, NAU does 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. The team flew a total of 5,516 miles and visited four different states over the three and a half weeks between home matches.
After posting an impressive 2-2 mark over their long road trip, the Lumberjacks will now play five of their next seven matches in the friendly confines of Rolle Activity Center. NAU is undefeated in five home matches this season and has lost only three total sets in Flagstaff. The Lumberjacks have outhit their opposition .223 to .079 on their home floor and have averaged 11.39 assists per set, 1.56 service aces per set, 13.33 digs per set and 2.33 blocks per set when playing in front of an average of 492 fans in Rolle Activity Center.
Junior Jen Wilson has ascended to a prime roll in the NAU attack since the team embarked on its road trip and has led the team in kills in each of the last three matches. Wilson was the only Lumberjack to reach double-digit kills against Northern Colorado while also leading the team with four blocks. During the four match NAU road trip, Wilson led the team with 3.24 kills per set and a .285 hitting percentage while adding 2.76 digs per set and 0.71 blocks per set. Her 55 kills were more than 1/4 of the total kills recorded by the team over the trip, and she hit .285 while the rest of the team totaled a .137 hitting percentage.
Northern Arizona and Idaho State have some unique similarities and connections between their coaching staffs. Both teams have an assistant coach named Gorny: Chris with the Lumberjacks and his younger sister, Ali, with the Bengals. Both staffs have a head coach that graduated from BYU (Craig Choate for NAU and Chad Teichert for ISU) who are both in their fourth season with their schools. Both teams also have an assistant coach that graduated from BYU (Gorny for NAU and David Hyte for ISU) that both completed their careers at Brigham Young in 2004, played together for the BYU men's volleyball team, and began their coaching careers in Provo.
While the Lumberjacks have not played a home match since Sept. 17, Idaho State has not played a road match since that date and is coming off a five match home stand. Sophomore setter Lori Mendenhall ranks third in the conference with 9.60 assists per set while libero Kylee Searle is third in digs per set (4.50) and outside hitter Breanne Van Every is fourth in kills per set (3.33). NAU has lost four consecutive matches to ISU and is 26-30 in the all-time series.
Weber State hits the road after a three match home stand and will play at Northern Colorado on Thursday before coming to Flagstaff. The Wildcats are one of only four winless teams remaining in NCAA Division-I volleyball, but have forced a fifth set five times this season. One area where the Wildcats have excelled this season is blocking, as the team ranks second in the Big Sky with 2.49 blocks per set. However, Weber State is last in the conference in hitting percentage (.111), opponent hitting percentage (.236), assists (8.84/set), kills (9.57/set) and digs (10.52/set). The Lumberjacks are 33-26 all-time against Weber State and have won the last four meetings.
NAU Volleyball Best Season Records (Through 15 Matches)
Year Record Finish
2011 - 13-2 - ???
1991 - 13-2 - 26-8, NIVC Championship Participant
1983 - 12-3 - 19-10
2008 - 12-3 - 15-10
1992 - 12-3 - 17-11