FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Down 2-0, Northern Arizona was able to withstand five match points to force a fourth set, but Idaho State rebounded to defeat the Lumberjacks, 3-1, on Thursday night in Rolle Activity Center (25-22, 25-19, 25-27, 25-13). The loss was the first at home this season for NAU, which dropped to 13-3 overall and 4-3 in the Big Sky while Idaho State improved to 9-8 overall and 4-3 in conference play.
"That's the worst we have played all season, and it's up to me to figure out how to get us back to playing well," said head coach Craig Choate. "We gave away 29 points on service errors and balls hit out of bounds, and you can't beat anybody doing that. I never felt like we really were playing well all night long."
NAU committed 10 service errors and 28 attack errors and hit just .120 for the match, including two sets with negative hitting percentages. Idaho State capitalized with nine blocks and a .212 hitting percentage to spoil NAU's return to their home court after a 25 day absence.
The Lumberjacks outhit the Bengals .258 to .206 in the first set, but three Idaho State aces and two NAU service errors in the set proved to be the difference as ISU jumped to a 1-0 lead. NAU fell behind 10-6 early in the second set, with Idaho State eventually building a 22-16 advantage, as NAU hit -.086 for the set, to take a 2-0 lead.
NAU trailed Idaho State 20-19 in the third set before the Bengals went on a 4-1 run to open up a 24-20 advantage and have their first match point. Three consecutive kills by freshman Sydney Kemper and an ISU attack error leveled the match at 24-24, but a Bengal kill by Danielle Downs gave the visitors a fifth match point at 25-24. Consecutive ISU attack errors gave NAU its first set point of the match, and a kill from senior Katie Bailey pushed the match to a fourth set.
The Lumberjacks were not able to build off their third set rally in the fourth, however, as the Bengals opened up an early 11-3 advantage. Idaho State would hit a match best .270 in the fourth and limit NAU to a -.031 percentage to pull away for an easy set win and a match victory.
Kemper lead NAU with 13 kills on a .480 hitting percentage while adding two blocks. Junior Lexi Sullivan also reached double digits with 11 kills while libero Anna Gott notched a team high 16 digs. Junior setter Kelli Dallmann recorded her 10th double-double of the season with 38 assists and 11 digs, and added four blocks. NAU had recorded only one set with a negative hitting percentage all season but notched two negative sets in the loss to the Bengals.
The Lumberjacks will look to rebound on Saturday when they host Weber State at 7 p.m. in Rolle Activity Center. The Wildcats dropped to 0-19 overall and 0-7 in the Big Sky with a 3-0 loss Thursday night at Northern Colorado.