PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – In a brisk 64 minute match, the Northern Arizona volleyball team made quick work of Hampton to pick up their first victory of the season, 25-8, 25-12, 25-16. The Lumberjacks, now 1-1 in 2016, wound up with a split of their two matches at the Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia Temple Invitational with a commanding effort in all facets of the game.
Hitting .388 for the match compared to Hampton's sub-zero -.057 clip, NAU set a new school record for fewest points allowed in a single match (36). The Lumberjacks also tied a school record with just eight points scored against in the first set, setting the mark for the third time in program history and first since doing so against Montana in 2012.
The Lumberjacks committed just four attack errors in a balanced offensive attack led by senior Lauren Jacobsen's 10 kills. Redshirt sophomore Brittni Dorsey and freshman Sydney Lema each recorded five kills, while seniors Jensen Barton and Addy Lofstedt and freshman Abby Akin each tallied four apiece.
"We talked before the match about working on our distribution and Jensen did a really good job of keeping our hitters on balance," said head coach Ken Murphy. "She kept everyone involved and going forward, that is going to be a really big key for us. I was glad to see to put our plan to use and have success with it."
NAU was ready for its early morning match from the get-go utilizing a 7-0 run to burst open a first set that was initially tied at 3-3. Although the Lumberjacks recorded one team block, they forced the Pirates into 11 attack errors in the opening set alone. Hampton's offensive struggles were only part of the problem, as NAU hit .385 on its own to cruise to a first set win.
"Our defense was really good in the first set and our pressure was high," Murphy said. "There were a bunch of long rallies and they ended up making errors on their side. We were playing solid defense and kept our side of the net under control. That made it difficult for them to score."
Sophomore Jordan Anderson aced the Pirates – one of NAU's 10 service aces on Saturday – to break a 5-5 second set tie. Dorsey and Lofstedt proceeded to combine for two blocks during the four-point surge started by Anderson, before Lema exerted her will midway through with two aces, a kill and a solo block to push NAU's lead to 16-7. Dorsey would later record two consecutive aces to put the 'Jacks within four points of a set win, which they would clinch shortly after.
Jacobsen guided NAU to a sweep notching six of her 10 kills in the final set. Four of the six came during a 7-1 run to start the stanza, only for the Pirates to close within 8-7. Hampton hung close at 14-13, but three kills from Akin, Jacobsen and Lofstedt in succession provided the Lumberjacks with enough cushion at 17-13. Redshirt freshman Victoria Ewalefo checked into the match late in the set and promptly hammered down her first two career kills before the match fittingly ended with Hampton's 24th attack error.
Jacobsen posted her second double-double in as many matches to start the season with a match-high 10 digs, while Lema and Anderson followed with eight each. Dorsey, Barton and Lema all led the NAU charge at the service line combining for seven of the team's 10 aces.
"I'm really excited for how we're going to grow throughout the season," Murphy said. "We were clearly nervous (yesterday), but you could tell today that we were more comfortable playing together and growing into roles."
The Lumberjacks will hit the road once again at Carbondale, Ill. for the Saluki Invitational next weekend. NAU will face Western Michigan next Friday at 2 p.m. before playing its first doubleheader of the season the following day against Central Florida and Southern Illinois.