Volleyball Outlasts Sacramento State in Five-Set Thriller
Photo courtesy Sarah Hamilton
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – In a match that had 40 ties and 18 lead changes, juniors Lauren Campbell and Lexi Sullivan each had 21 kills and NAU hit .221 as a team to edge Sacramento State, 3-2, on Saturday night in Rolle Activity Center (25-22, 25-27, 23-25, 25-23, 15-10). NAU completed its first season sweep of Sacramento State in program history, improving to 15-5 overall and 6-5 in the Big Sky, while the Hornets dropped to 6-4 in conference play and 13-12 overall.
"We played really well tonight," said NAU head coach Craig Choate. "We knew it was going to be hard because Sacramento State digs a ton of balls, but we matched them tonight. Our two outsides (Campbell and Sullivan) hitting over .300 kept us in the game, and we just came in with the attitude that we were going to be aggressive like we were before."
Each of the first four sets were decided by three points or less, starting with a 25-22 NAU triumph in the opening stanza. The second set saw 15 ties and eight lead changes, as Sacramento State rallied from down 25-24 to earn a 27-25 victory and square the match.
Both teams hit lights out in the third set, with NAU hitting .436 and Sacramento State hitting .434 and pulling away late for a 27-25 triumph. The Lumberjacks rallied back in the fourth, limiting the Hornets to a .045 hitting percentage to extend the match to a fifth set.
NAU would hit .364 in the fifth while Sacramento State hit .000, as the Lumberjacks opened up a 10-6 advantage and forced a Hornet timeout. Campbell and Sullivan combined for seven kills in the deciding set, with an NAU block from freshmen Sydney Kemper and Taylor Stephens ending the contest and giving the Lumberjacks the victory.
Campbell's 21 kills were a career high, while Sullivan equaled that number on a season-high 60 attacks. Junior setter Kelli Dallmann had 55 assists and 16 digs for her 12th double-double of the season and junior libero Anna Gott posted 32 digs. NAU outblocked Sacramento State 14-13, with Kemper and senior Katie Bailey each totaling seven blocks.
The Lumberjack's first set victory ended a streak of seven consecutive first set losses dating back to Sept. 22, the first time Northern Arizona and Sacramento State met. NAU is now 6-0 in five set matches this season.
The Lumberjacks will play two more critical home matches next weekend, beginning with a match against Eastern Washington on Thursday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m.