FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona volleyball team put together another complete match on Saturday night in Rolle Activity Center to post their fifth consecutive victory, 25-5, 25-17, 25-15 over Bethune-Cookman. NAU set the tone with the fewest points allowed (five) in a set in school history to open the match and held off BCU's challenges in the final two sets to move to 7-2 this season.
"We were really steady on defense and we were in good position (in the first set)," said head coach Ken Murphy. "We didn't let them have anything and our service pressure definitely took them out of everything. There was a time in the second set when Bethune-Cookman put some pressure on us and it took a little longer for us to respond than we would've liked. The last two nights showed us that we're ready to be a consistent volleyball team."
Senior Jensen Barton distributed the ball evenly all night long with five hitters recording at least five kills, including herself, and none in double-digits. The Lumberjacks hit .398 for the match, including a scorching .542 in the record-setting first set, and committed just five errors on 98 total attacks.
For the second night in a row, NAU applied pressure on Bethune-Cookman from the service line where it tallied eight service aces. Senior Lauren Jacobsen accounted for a season-high four – three of which came in the opening game – to help put the Wildcats on their heels. Struggling to get into a rhythm, Bethune-Cookman wound up hitting just .061 for the night.
The first set was completely dictated by NAU with the 'Jacks executing in all phases. Jacobsen led the charge initially from her spot on the left side, hammering down four kills during an 11-1 start to the match. After two BCU points, she then stepped to line and haunted the Wildcats with a variety of serves during an 11-0 run that put NAU ahead 22-3. Senior Addy Lofstedt also played a huge role in set one with five kills.
"We had great service pressure and we made them scramble," Barton said. "We still have a lot of room to improve, but I'm confident in us going into next week and after next week we'll be ready for conference."
The Wildcats were not deterred though and settled into the match in set two, hanging around and trailing just 11-10 at one point. Freshman Abby Akin's kill made it 12-10 in favor of the 'Jacks before they benefitted from two straight Bethune-Cookman errors. The quick three-point surge proved to be enough separation and freshman Sydney Lema provided more cushion with two kills during a four-point run that extended the NAU lead to 20-12.
A pair of kills each from Lema and Lofstedt capped a third-set opening 11-2 run that all but decided the sweep. Bethune-Cookman did claw its way back to 20-15 but failed to get any closer as NAU closed with the final five points. An attack error gave NAU side out and Barton followed with two kills. Redshirt sophomore Brittni Dorsey then pounded a kill off the block before junior Brooke Donnelly ended the match with an ace.
Jacobsen and Lofstedt tied for team-high honors with nine kills and both hit over .520. Barton and Lema both recorded seven kills, while Akin finished with five. Sophomore Jordan Anderson was the lone player on either team to hit double-digit digs with 12, while Barton handed out 35 assists in a commanding NAU offensive effort.
The 'Jacks head off to Bakersfield, Calif. this week for their final action before starting Big Sky play. NAU will play four matches in three days starting with CSU Bakersfield on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Lumberjacks will then enter the Roadrunner Classic on Friday and Saturday with matches against UC Irvine, UC Riverside and San Francisco.