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October 13, 2012

Volleyball Extends Winning Streak with 3-0 Sweep of North Dakota

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senior Jen Wilson hit .875 with seven kills and three blocks and sophomore Kalee Kirby posted another double-double with 30 assists and 12 digs as NAU won its first ever meeting with North Dakota, 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-19), on Saturday night in Grand Forks, N.D. The Lumberjacks won their fifth consecutive match with their eighth win in the last nine matches to improve to 8-2 in the Big Sky and 16-3 overall, already the program's most wins in a season since 2001.

"We had to fight and we played well," said NAU head coach Craig Choate. "We started off a little shaky on passing but we smoothed it out and then we got great. We just played spectacular defense all night; Kelli Dallmann made so many diving, crazy saves it was ridiculous."

Wilson totaled seven kills in just eight attacks without committing an error while freshman Payton Bock led the team with nine kills and five blocks and Dallmann added 10 digs and eight kills. The Lumberjacks outhit North Dakota .246-.140, their 14th time this season holding their opponent to a hitting percentage below .200, and had a 10-7 advantage in blocks and a 62-56 advantage in digs. Senior Anna Gott totaled a match-high 23 digs to bring her career total to 1,654 digs and move to sixth place all-time in career digs in Big Sky history.

After NAU took an early 4-1 lead in the first set, neither team would lead by more than two points as the set remained even to 20-20. The Lumberjacks then used a 3-0 spurt to take a 23-20 lead, and after a point from North Dakota the visitors got a kill from freshman Janae Vander Ploeg and a block from Vander Ploeg and Bock to take the opening set.

North Dakota went on the offensive to open the second set and took a 7-4 lead. The home team would extend its advantage to 12-7, but a 4-0 NAU run got the Lumberjacks within one point and they would eventually level the score at 14-14. North Dakota took a slim lead at 22-21 but then committed a service error and an NAU kill from Wilson prompted a timeout. The Lumberjacks closed the set with a block by Vander Ploeg and a kill from Bock to move to a 2-0 lead.

The third set began as close as the first two as Northern Arizona held a slim 15-13 lead. The Lumberjacks broke the set open with a 7-2 run to take a 22-15 lead and move to a 24-19 score. NAU limited North Dakota to a match-worst .079 hitting percentage in the set, and a kill by Wilson closed the set and gave NAU its seventh sweep of the season.

The Lumberjacks will be home for five of their next six matches, first hosting Weber State at 7 p.m. Thursday in a match to be televised live on Fox Sports Arizona Plus, Fox College Sports, and NAU-TV.