Volleyball Continues Big Sky Homestand Thursday and Saturday
Opponent: Portland State (Thursday, Oct. 3/7:00 p.m.)
Opponent: Eastern Washington (Saturday, Oct. 5/7:00 p.m.)
Location: Flagstaff, Ariz.
Live Stats: www.nauathletics.com
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Northern Arizona volleyball team continues their conference-long three match homestand this Thursday and Saturday after getting back into the win column on Monday with a sweep of Southern Utah. The Lumberjacks look to knock Portland State off its perch atop the Big Sky standings Thursday night before welcoming in Eastern Washington on Saturday. Both teams - along with NAU - were picked among the top-six in the conference preseason poll.
The Lumberjacks were dominant on Monday in rebounding from their first conference loss last week as it allowed a season-low 43 points in their three-set win over Southern Utah. Sophomore Janae Vander Ploeg led the Lumberjacks with 13 kills as NAU hit .311 as a team while holding the Thunderbirds to a .074 clip. Juniors Sydney Kemper and Taylor Stephens both hit upwards of .550 and junior Erin Truett recorded 35 assists in running an efficient NAU attack. Senior Lexie Schroeder registered 16 digs, which equaled her career-high.
Series History: The Lumberjacks split the season series with both Portland State and Eastern Washington last season. NAU lost the first matchup with Portland State on the road, 3-0, but answered back with a 3-1 win at home. The win snapped a 16-match losing streak to the Vikings that dated back to 2004. With the extended win streak in the series, Portland State holds the all-time advantage, 18-16, after the Lumberjacks won 15 of the first 17 matchups.
NAU and Eastern Washington each claimed a win on the opposing courts last season as both teams won on the road. The Lumberjacks won in four sets in Cheney only to drop a tight five-setter at home. In fact, the two teams have split the season series in each of the last five years with the Eagles holding on to a 35-24 all-time lead in the series.
Coach Ken Murphy Quote for the Week: "We knew had to have the right mindset for this week especially bouncing back after last Friday. We knew we had to get back to our processes and continuing to get better. Each opponent is going to be a unique challenge and all we can control is ourselves and our attitude and effort on our side."
About Portland State (7-7, 4-0 BSC): Portland State is off to a perfect start in Big Sky play, thus far justifying its position at the top of the Big Sky Preseason Poll receiving seven of the 11 first-place votes. The Vikings, the defending regular season conference champions, will be making their first road trip of the conference season having won four straight Big Sky matches, three of them sweeps, at home to begin conference play. The Vikings have played just four matches away from home at this point of the season en route to a 7-7 overall record.
The Vikings are third in the conference in kills and utilize a team effort with four players averaging at least two kills per set. Senior Kaeli Patton paces the Vikings with 2.91 kills per set and she leads three players in the Big Sky top-10 in service aces at 0.34 per set. Portland State averages a conference best 1.60 aces per set. Senior Garyn Schlatter has started every set at setter, averaging 9.96 assists per set good for fifth in the Big Sky. Junior Leigh-Ann Haataja is seventh in the Big Sky with 1.09 blocks per set and junior Kasimira Clark is second with 4.70 digs per set.
About Eastern Washington (5-10, 2-2 BSC): Eastern Washington is one of four teams even at 2-2 in Big Sky play entering the third week of conference play. The Eagles are an improved team from a year ago having already equaled their overall win total from 2012 and have pulled out a pair of five-set wins for their two Big Sky victories. They have conference victories over Sacramento State and Montana State and like Portland State, they will be making their first full conference road trip this week. The Eagles have played three of their Big Sky matches at home with the lone road contest at Portland State.
Sophomore Allie Schumacher ranks tenth in the conference with a team-high 2.96 kills per set in addition to leading the team in points with 189.0. Schumacher tallied a career-high 35 kills in the Eagles' five-set win over NAU in Flagstaff. Junior Melissa Waelter also averages more than two kills per set at 2.29. Sophomore Allison Doerpinghaus is among the conference's best in blocks, ranking tenth with 1.08 blocks per set while sophomore Ryann Ensrud averages just shy of three digs a set at 2.98.
Raising their Game: With the conference season in full swing, the Lumberjacks have taken their game to another level during their 3-1 start to conference play. NAU is currently hitting .248 as a team and allowing its opponents to a .156 percentage both of which are better than its overall season marks. The Lumberjacks have also improved at the service line and at the net as their current averages of 1.40 aces and 3.00 blocks per set are also higher than their overall averages.
No Place Like Home: The Rolle Activity Center has once again been unfriendly confines for Lumberjack opposition as NAU is 5-1 in its first six home matches. The Lumberjacks' lone home loss was to Cal State Northridge, who is currently 11-3 and receiving votes in the AVCA Coaches Poll.
Since the start of the 2012 season, NAU is 13-3 at home and is 10 wins shy of 200 all- time victories at Rolle Activity Center, its home since 1989.
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