Temple Invitational Information:
Opponent: Temple (Friday, Aug. 26/3:00 p.m.)
Opponent: Hampton (Saturday, Aug. 27/8:00 a.m.)
Location: Philadelphia, Pa.
Live Stats: www.owlsports.com
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Their 2015 Big Sky championship behind them, the Northern Arizona volleyball team takes the initial steps towards their title defense in 2016 this weekend at the Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia Temple Invitational. The Lumberjacks open the season against the host Temple on Friday with first serve at 3 p.m. Arizona time. NAU will then turn around and face Hampton on Saturday at 8 a.m. Arizona time.
Ken Murphy's Sound Bite: "Our main goals as a group is to learn about each other and challenge ourselves to do what we've been doing in practice. With a little bit of an inexperienced group, there needs to be a focus on that. We know our potential is high if we work together and stay in our systems, we can anticipate some success. It's important that our young players trust in that and stick together."
Previewing The 'Jacks: The Lumberjacks will sport a young roster with 12 of 16 players holding underclassmen status this season. NAU does return three starters in seniors Jensen Barton and Lauren Jacobsen as well as redshirt sophomore Brittni Dorsey. Barton and Jacobsen both were named to the All-Big Sky teams last season with first and second team selections respectively. Barton orchestrated the NAU attack to the tune of a .264 hitting percentage, setting a new school record, while averaging 10.42 assists per set. Jacobsen meanwhile averaged a career-best 3.21 kills per set. Senior Addy Lofstedt and sophomore Jordan Anderson also return having played significant time on NAU's school record 28-5 team from a year ago. The 'Jacks finished 2015 with a 15-1 conference record and appeared in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history.
The Temple Scout: Temple was picked second in the preseason American Athletic Conference poll in a vote by the league's coaches. The Owls earned two first place votes after finishing last season as the conference runner-up with a 15-5 conference record and 24-8 overall mark. Kirsten Overton, Irem Asci and Izzy Rapacz all earned postseason conference honors last season and were given all-conference preseason honors. Overton was a first team all-conference pick last season, posting an AAC best .402 hitting percentage, which ranked her 22nd in the nation. She averaged 2.48 kills per set and recorded a team-best 100 blocks.
The Hampton Scout: Hampton is coming off a 3-22 season in 2015 with all three victories coming in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play. Hampton posted a 3-9 conference record and was picked to finish fifth in the MEAC Northern Division in this year's preseason poll.The Pirates will be led by Reeana Richardson, who was named to the preseason All-MEAC team. Richardson's 3.52 kills per set last season ranked second in the conference and helped her earn a spot on the All-MEAC Third Team. In all, Hampton returns 11 letterwinners.
- NAU and Temple will be meeting for the second time in school history. NAU won the first meeting, 3-0, on Sept. 13, 1997.
- NAU and Hampton will be meeting for the third time in school history. NAU won the last meeting, 3-0, on Sept. 3, 2011.
NAU Quick Sets:
- The Lumberjacks were picked as the preseason favorite in the Big Sky Preseason Coaches Poll receiving 119 points and nine of 12 first place votes.
- The 'Jacks have won nine of their last 10 season openers since 2006, and are 3-0 in season openers under head coach Ken Murphy.
- NAU is ranked in a tie for 14th in the inaugural VolleyballMag.com Mid-Major Poll. The Lumberjacks are the only Big Sky team ranked in the top 25.
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