FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona volleyball team swept its way to a fifth consecutive victory of to open the season in the Saturday morning opener of the Fiesta Bowl Tournament, 25-18, 27-25, 25-23 over Idaho. The Lumberjacks are now 5-0 and will look to clinch their 13th Fiesta Bowl title with a win tonight versus Cal State Northridge at 7 p.m. Cal State Northridge is also unbeaten in the tournament after defeating San Diego State in five sets on Saturday.
"We were a little unorganized on our side but Idaho played great defense and extended some rallies that we weren't expecting," said head coach Ken Murphy. "We need to do a better job of handling that at certain points but we always talk about if we can outwork our opponent things will go our way and today was an example of that."
The Lumberjacks were led by freshman Addy Lofstedt who tied her career-high with 12 kills with just two errors to hit .435. Lofstedt narrowly missed recording her first career double-double as she finished the match with nine digs.
NAU trailed Idaho 14-12 in the opening set before the Lumberjacks seized the momentum with an 11-0 run with sophomore Janae Vander Ploeg on the service line. The Lumberjacks were propelled on the run courtesy of four service aces by Vander Ploeg as well as three kills by junior Sydney Kemper. The run put the Lumberjacks ahead 23-14 and they cruised to the set win from there.
After holding a four-point lead at 14-10, the Lumberjacks entered the midway point of the second set down a point following a 5-0 spurt by the Vandals. Idaho then held a 24-22 advantage but could not put away the set with its two set points to tie the match at one set apiece. The Lumberjacks answered the call with back-to-back kills by Lofstedt and freshman Jensen Barton to even the score at 24-24. Idaho responded with a service ace, but the Lumberjacks claimed the final three points – the final two coming off a kill and an ace by Lofstedt – to win the set.
The Lumberjacks wrapped up their second win of the tournament in the third and final set, withstanding another run by the Vandals midway through the set to win by two points.
Vander Ploeg finished with 10 kills and Kemper had nine. Sophomore Payton Bock finished with seven kills on .417 hitting and Barton handed out 35 assists. Sophomore Trianna Henry posted a match-high 16 digs. As a team, NAU hit .259 and they limited Idaho to a .183 hitting percentage. The Lumberjacks also recorded a season-high nine service aces paced by Vander Ploeg's four and Lofstedt who had three.