FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Senior Kelli Dallmann had a match-high 13 kills and NAU outhit Portland State .231 to .104, holding the conference-leading Vikings to sub-.100 hitting percentages in three of four sets, to record a 3-1 (25-19, 19-25, 25-21, 25-16) win on Saturday night in Rolle Activity Center. NAU ended a 16-match losing streak against PSU dating back to 2004 and dropped the Vikings to 14-2 in the Big Sky while improving its conference mark to 12-4.
The win also pushed NAU's season record to 20-5, just the third 20-win season in program history and the first since 1991. Portland State moved into a tie with Idaho State for first place in the conference at 14-2 with NAU just behind at 12-4. The Lumberjacks, who clinched a berth in the Big Sky Championship on Thursday, split matches with both the Bengals and Vikings during the regular season.
"It feels great and is a really meaningful win for us," NAU head coach Craig Choate said. "We had a high energy level but were still able to relax tonight and just played well. The learning curve was we had to get good and then learn how to play well against the good teams, and this is it."
NAU hit a match-best .345 in the first set with 13 kills and just three attack errors to set the tone with an opening set win. The set was tied at 11 when the Lumberjack s used a 6-0 run to take a 17-11 lead. The cushion for the home team grew to 19-12 before the Vikings battled back to within a 19-16 deficit. Leading by just three points again at 22-19, NAU capitalized on two attack errors and got a kill from sophomore Taylor Stephens to secure the set.
Portland State came back strong in the second set and led for the duration. The Vikings hit .278 in the set and committed just three attack errors after committing 11 errors in the opening set as they built an early 10-4 lead and never looked back. NAU hit a solid .278 in the set but couldn't slow the Viking attack as the visitors evened the match at 1-1.
Neither team led by more than three points in the third set as the squads played to an even 16-16 score. A 4-1 Lumberjack spurt gave NAU a 20-17 lead but the Vikings battled back to a 21-20 deficit. With the Lumberjacks up by just one at 22-21, a Viking attack error, a kill by Dallmann, and a solo block from freshman Payton Bock gave NAU a 2-1 lead.
The fourth set would feature seven ties and six lead changes despite a -.051 attack percentage in the set for Portland State. The teams traded early leads before the Vikings went up 12-10 and prompted an NAU timeout. An immediate 5-0 run gave the Lumberjacks a 15-12 lead, and the home team maintained a three point cushion to 18-15. From that point the Lumberjacks went on a 5-0 run that extended to a 7-1 spurt to end the match with a service ace from senior Anna Gott clinching the victory.
Dallmann hit .290 on the night and added nine digs and two blocks. Freshman Janae Vander Ploeg also reached double-figures with 11 kills while middle blockers Bock and Sydney Kemper each totaled nine kills with Bock adding a match-high six blocks. Gott finished with a match-high 23 digs and sophomore Kalee Kirby had 45 assists, five digs, and three kills in the win.
The Lumberjacks play their final road matches of the regular season next weekend at Montana on Friday and at Montana State on Saturday.