MARTIN, Tenn. – The Northern Arizona volleyball team overcame a season-high 14 service aces to hold off a pesky UT Martin team in the first of two Labor Day matches on Monday. The Lumberjacks, behind a career match from senior Addy Lofstedt, improved to 4-2 this season with a 26-24, 22-25, 25-16, 25-22 victory over the Skyhawks.
"UT Martin played great," said head coach Ken Murphy. "They received the ball well and their offense was tough to defend, but it was great to see our team have really great points of refocus. They got better as the match went on and they rose to the challenge that UT Martin was bringing."
Lofstedt matched her career-high of 15 kills and smashed her previous career-best hitting percentage of .562. She hit .652 in Monday's victory recording her 15 kills on just 23 swings without tallying an error. She also had her hand in six of NAU's 11.0 team blocks, to notch yet another career-high.
Statistically, the Lumberjacks dominated the Skyhawks posting a better hitting percentage (.301-.181), more kills (61-51) and more blocks (11.0-7.0) but yet had their hands full with the home team.
Despite hitting .378 compared to UT Martin's .209, NAU had to play catch up for most of the opening set. A 5-0 Skyhawk run gave the home team an early 7-3 lead and they maintained it until NAU tied it at 16-all via a 6-2 run led by two kills each from Lofstedt and freshman Sydney Lema. UTM scored the next three points, but NAU again brought it even at 21-21 on a redshirt sophomore Brittni Dorsey service ace. After the 'Jacks failed to clinch on two set points, Lofstedt and freshman Abby Akin completed the set-long comeback effort with NAU's fourth block of the set.
Once again, UT Martin took control early and unlike the previous set, the Skyhawks did not let the Lumberjacks chop all the way back in the second game. UTM used a 7-1 run to take a 9-4 lead that grew to as much as 17-11. There, NAU started its charge closing within two points with Lofstedt pacing the team with back to back kills and a block sandwiched around an ace from sophomore Jordan Anderson. The 'Jacks would later tie the score at 22-all on an ace from senior Jensen Barton, only for the Skyhawks to immediately respond with the set's final three points.
NAU came out of the intermission with a vengeance, scoring the first three points. Following a UTM run that brought the set to a 7-7 stalemate, it was all Lumberjacks from there. Dorsey forced a Skyhawk timeout with two straight kills, which Anderson followed with another ace to cap a 5-0 NAU run. The 'Jacks cruised from there and sealed up the critical third set on Lema's 10th kill of the match, which notched her first career double-double.
The Lumberjacks led the fourth set by as many as five points at 15-10 following a Barton and Dorsey block, but the Skyhawks had final push in them. UT Martin eventually tied the score at 18-18 with a four-point run of its own. Junior Brooke Donnelly recorded the final of NAU's nine service aces to force a UTM timeout with the 'Jacks leading 22-19, and NAU finally was able to put away its opponent on senior Lauren Jacobsen's 18th kill.
Jacobsen posted 18 kills and 19 digs, both of which were team-highs, and finished with her sixth double-double. Lema wound up with her best totals of 12 kills and 14 digs, while Barton recorded a season-high 50 assists. Dorsey set a new career-high with eight kills to go along with five blocks. Dorsey and Anderson tied for match-high honors with three service aces.
NAU wraps up the day with Alabama A&M. First serve in Martin, Tenn. is 1 p.m. Arizona time.