Opponent: Sacramento State (Friday, Sept. 27/7:00 p.m.)
Location: Sacramento, Calif.
Live Stats: www.hornetsports.com
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Entering the second week of conference play, the Northern Arizona volleyball team remains one of three undefeated teams in the Big Sky after earning home victories against Idaho State and Weber State last week. On Friday, the Lumberjacks travel to Sacramento State for the first of four matches in eight days before returning home to host Southern Utah on Monday.
Several Lumberjacks shined as Big Sky play opened last week as sophomore Janae Vander Ploeg, juniors Sydney Kemper and Taylor Stephens and freshman Addy Lofstedt all averaged at least 2.25 kills per set. The Lumberjacks also had an incredible performance at the net as they averaged 3.62 blocks per set as a team. Kemper, Stephens and sophomore Payton Bock each averaged at least 1.25 blocks per set individually, a large reason why Idaho State and Weber State combined to hit .109 in the two matches with a combined 69 attack errors.
Series History: NAU will head out to Sacramento State where it has not fared well over the years, having one just once in Sacramento in 19 all-time meetings. The Lumberjacks picked up their only win in Sacramento in 2011 and was unable to notch their second straight win on the road last season after the Hornets rallied from a 2-0 deficit to knock off NAU in five sets. The Lumberjacks had won the first meeting in 2012 in four sets at home. Sacramento State leads the all-time series, 28-11.
Coach Ken Murphy Quote for the Week: "The biggest challenge is going on the road and playing the way we want to play. Every place we go in conference will provide a unique challenge and we have to get to the point where we know what makes us successful as a team and execute in any environment. We felt like we improved last week and we want to improve this week and continue to move forward."
About Sacramento State (5-8, 0-2 BSC): Sacramento State opened Big Sky play last weekend with a pair of losses and dropped to 5-8 overall this season. The Hornets began at Eastern Washington and fell in five sets despite taking a 2-0 lead in the match before EWU rallied. They then traveled to Portland State where they fell in three sets to the Vikings. After winning four of its first five matches, Sacramento State has lost its last seven overall.
Sophomore Sloan Lovett leads the Hornets with 3.23 kills per set and 18 service aces. She ranks fifth in the conference in kills and is the Big Sky leader in service aces. Senior Kayla Beal is right behind at 3.05 kills per set, which ranks ninth in the conference, and is hitting .270, the seventh-best percentage in the Big Sky. Senior setter Hannah Hettinga has recorded a Big-Sky high seven double-doubles including two last weekend while averaging 9.65 assists and 2.54 digs per set. The Hornets are second in the conference in hitting percentage and averages a Big Sky-best 1.54 service aces per set.
Jacks of All Trades: The Lumberjacks are once again statisically the most well-rounded team as they are the only team in the conference to rank in the top-five in all statistical categories. They are allowing their opponents to hit a Big Sky-low .161 and is third in hitting percentage (.223), kills (13.00/set) and assists (12.08/set). NAU is just outside the top-three in blocks the fourth-best block average at 2.42 per set and is fifth in both digs (14.33/set) and service aces (1.11/set).
Last season, NAU was the only team in the conference to rank in the top-three in kills, assists, blocks, digs, hitting percentage and opponent hitting percentage. The Lumberjacks ranked second in hitting percentage (.241) and opponent hitting percentage (.171) and were third in kills (13.38/set), assists (12.52/set), blocks (2.54/set) and digs (15.59/set). As the only team with that distinction, it's no secret why the Lumberjacks had one of their greatest seasons ever as at least statistically speaking, they were the most balanced team in the Big Sky.
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