PORTLAND, Ore. - Senior libero Anna Gott became the all-time career digs leader in NAU volleyball history midway through the third set but Portland State narrowly topped the Lumberjacks in the first set and claimed the second and third sets for a 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-16) win on Thursday in Portland. NAU was swept for the first time this season and moved to 3-2 in conference play and 11-3 overall as Portland State stayed perfect n the Big Sky at 5-0 and 9-7 overall.
Gott entered the match 16 digs shy of tying the program record and had 15 digs through two sets. She picked up her 16th on an attack by Portland State senior Megan Ellis with the Vikings ahead 8-3 in the third set, then broke the record on another attack by Ellis with Portland State ahead 15-6. She would finish with 21 digs on the night to bring her total to 1,554 digs in her career, surpassing the previous record of 1,549 digs set by Chelsea Robb in 2002.
"It's a great honor and I'm happy for her," NAU head coach Craig Choate said about Gott. "She's worked incredibly hard to do what she's done and that makes me happy for her. She's just a great kid and that makes it even better."
The Vikings started strong as they turned an early 4-4 tie into an 18-10 lead in the opening set. The Lumberjacks responded with a 7-0 run to get within one point and would eventually level the set at 22-22. With the set still tied at 23-23 Portland State got a kill from Ellis and capitalized on a Lumberjack attack error to take the opening stanza.
NAU took a 7-5 lead early in the second set before Portland State responded with a 7-0 run to take a 12-7 lead. The Vikings held the Lumberjacks to just nine kills on a .121 hitting percentage for the set as the home team pulled away to a 24-15 lead. NAU was able to withstand three match points before a kill gave the Vikings the 2-0 lead.
Portland State opened an 8-2 lead in the third set and never looked back. PSU junior Jaklyn Wheeler had six of her match-high 19 kills in the third set and NAU was limited to a .061 hitting percentage in the deciding frame as the Vikings eased to a 25-16 win to claim the match.
The Lumberjacks limited Portland State to a .226 hitting percentage but were held to a season-low .141 hitting percentage of their own. Freshmen Janae Vander Ploeg and Payton Bock led the way with seven kills apiece while sophomore Kalee Kirby had 27 assists, seven digs, and a team-high three blocks. The Vikings, who entered the match ranked 11th in the NCAA in digs per set, posted a 68-52 dig advantage and totaled 10 service aces, a season-high allowed by the Lumberjacks.
"We started slow and then it turned into one of those nights that everything they did was good and nothing that we did could stop them," added Choate. "It was just a flat night for us and I thought they did everything they had to do to beat us."
NAU will be right back in action tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Eastern Washington. The Eagles dropped to 0-16 overall and 0-5 in the Big Sky with a 3-2 home loss to Southern Utah on Thursday.