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October 26, 2011

Volleyball Opens Critical Home Stand Saturday vs Sacramento State

WEEKLY RELEASE (PDF)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The NAU volleyball team (14-5, 5-5 BSC) returns to Flagstaff to open a three-match home stand at 7 p.m. Saturday against Big Sky-leading Sacramento State (13-10, 6-2 BSC). The Lumberjacks split their two road matches last weekend, ending a four-match losing streak with a win over Montana State, and begin the week tied for fifth place in the Big Sky standings. Saturday's match will air live on Fox College Sports Pacific and NAU-TV.

The Lumberjacks will play four of their last six regular season matches in Flagstaff after playing six of their previous eight matches on the road. Sacramento State enters the week having played just eight conference games while the rest of the Big Sky teams have played 10 matches. The Hornets lead the conference in winning percentage but trail Northern Colorado and Portland State by one in the win column. Eastern Washington also has six wins, while NAU, Idaho State, and Montana each have five wins.

The four remaining home contests for NAU are against the top-four teams in the conference standings, while the Lumberjacks will face last place Weber State and Idaho State in their two remaining road contests. The top four teams in the final regular season standings will advance to the Big Sky championship in Portland Nov. 25-26.

After falling at Montana on Friday for their fourth consecutive loss, the Lumberjacks rebounded with a hard fought 3-1 win at Montana State on Saturday to get back into the win column. NAU hit .231 as a team in the victory, its highest hitting percentage since the Lumberjacks first played Sacramento State on September 22 and the first time hitting above .200 during that seven-match stretch. The Lumberjacks added 10 team blocks, also their highest number since first facing the Hornets, and posted a season-high 95 digs, nine more than their previous season best. Perhaps most impressive was the number of players that made significant contributions, as four players reached double-digits in kills and five players posted double-digit digs, with juniors Kelli Dallmann and Jen Wilson recording double-doubles.

NAU ranks second in the Big Sky in hitting percentage (.191) and opponent hitting percentage (.158) and is third in assists (11.64/set), kills (12.35/set), digs (16.11/set) and service aces (1.22/set). Individually, Dallmann is second in assists (10.09/set) and is sixth in service aces (0.27/set) while Anna Gott is fourth in digs (4.51/set). Sydney Kemper is third in blocks (1.10/set) and fourth in hitting percentage (.266), with Katie Bailey just behind at fifth in hitting percentage (.265)

Sacramento State was off from Big Sky play last weekend, scoring a 3-1 win at home over Seattle. Since NAU defeated Sacramento State on Sept. 22, the Hornets have won eight of nine matches, with their lone loss coming on the road at Montana. NAU's 3-2 win in the Hornets Nest was the first in program history, as the Lumberjacks rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win the match in five. Junior Lexi Sullivan had a season-high 22 kills and hit .250 in that match, while Lauren Campbell and Sydney Kemper also posted double-digit kill totals as NAU hit .291 as a team and had an 11-7 advantage in blocks.

For the season, Sacramento State leads the Big Sky and is 13th in the NCAA in digs per set (17.80) and is 16th in country in blocks per set (2.73), while also leading the conference in opponent hitting percentage (.151) and service aces (1.47/set). Senior Breanne Menees ranks 22nd in the country with 5.38 digs per set and leads the Big Sky with 0.36 aces per set, while senior Maddison Thivierge is 2nd in the conference with 1.11 blocks per set. NAU is 9-27 all-time against Sacramento State after its win earlier this season and posted a 3-0 sweep of the Hornets last year in Flagstaff.