FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The NAU volleyball team continued its superb spring in Rolle Activity Center on Saturday, defeating each of its four opponents while not dropping a set. Playing best-of-three matches, the Lumberjacks swept Yavapai College (25-10, 25-12), Fort Lewis (25-11, 25-14), Grand Canyon (25-16, 25-18), and Arizona State (25-16, 25-23), hitting .351 as a team during a dominant Saturday.
"We played three teams that we fully expected to beat and we had a real nice match against ASU," said NAU head coach Craig Choate. "We had a great first game against ASU and I don't think either team led by more than one point in the second game. Defensively we played great across the back row; they really went crazy throwing their bodies across the floor to get balls up."
In winning seven of the eight sets by nine or more points, the team demonstrated its growing depth both offensively and defensively. Junior Kelli Dallmann has been playing on the outside this spring after serving as the team's setter for the majority of her initial three seasons at NAU, and Choate is impressed by the progress she has made and what she can add to the team on the left side.
"Kelli hit just fabulous on the outside," he said. "She has added a new dimension to us with her passing and her defense on top of the offense, and she's also a real good blocker."
With Dallmann on the outside, freshman Kalee Kirby now serves as NAU's full time setter. In addition to her great passing ability, Kirby also hit .733 on 15 attacks on Saturday, making smart decisions and setting up her teammates in good spots.
"Kalee made lots of great choices," added Choate. "Jen Wilson played great and made three plays defensively that were just outstanding, and Anna Gott was just serving bb's all day long. Everybody hit well and it was just one of those kinds of days."
Choate also commended the work of middle blocker Sydney Kemper, who hit .410 for the day and played all of the rotations in the middle, as well as the play of outside hitters Lauren Campbell and Lexi Sullivan as both hit above their averages. The team had great success despite playing without injured freshman Taylor Stephens, who is shifting to the middle after playing as an outside hitter during her rookie season.
NAU has now defeated both Arizona and Arizona State during the spring while also topping Grand Canyon, the top Division-II school in the state. The team has one more day of spring competition scheduled at Arizona State on April 14.
"It wasn't a case of us happening to hit well on one day," noted Choate. "The truth is these kids just played the way they are capable of playing at a really nice level. Everybody just played hard and played smart."