Barton and Blocks Guide NAU Volleyball to Weber State Sweep

Jensen Barton
Jensen Barton

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona volleyball team knew what Weber State brought to the table. The Wildcats, fourth nationally in blocks per set, with the nation's leading individual blocker was the challenge, and the Lumberjacks beat them at their own game. In a 25-17, 25-14, 25-19 sweep, the 'Jacks flexed their muscles in completely owning the Wildcats at the net, winning the blocking battle, 13.0-4.0, to win their seventh consecutive match and continue their perfect start to Big Sky conference play.

"I was proud of how aggressive we were from the very start," said head coach Ken Murphy. "We've talked about how we've had some slower starts, but we got into a flow early today and this was one of the most complete matches we've played recently. Offensively, Jensen (Barton) kept us really balanced and all of our hitters were involved, but it all stemmed from our intensity on defense."

While Weber State's Megan Thompson, the leading blocker in the country at 1.96 blocks per set, was kept off the stat sheet on Saturday, redshirt sophomore Brittni Dorsey tied her career-high with her hand in nine of NAU's 13 team blocks. She was one of four Lumberjacks to record at least four blocks with senior Addy Lofstedt at five and senior Jensen Barton and freshman Abby Akin with four apiece. With NAU's physical net play, Weber State was held to just .097 hitting.

While the Lumberjacks were hosting a block party, Barton stole the show as she tallied her second triple-double of the season. Totaling a career-high 11 kills to go along with 29 assists and 10 digs, Barton recorded the first triple-double in the Rolle Activity Center since 2009 and became just the fourth Lumberjack to do so in their home gym. She is also one of 13 players nationally with multiple triple-doubles this season.

Barton also kept the Lumberjacks' attack on balance with five hitters registering between 11 and 31 attacks – herself included. The even distribution kept the Wildcats guessing and the Lumberjacks wound up hitting .365 for the match – easily the highest percentage against Weber State this season. Weber State came into the match keeping its opponents to only a .129 clip overall.

"Before the match, we knew we had to focus on our serve receive because they're such a good blocking team," Barton said. "If we had good passes, we could run our offense as fast as we want to and they'd have a hard time getting to the ball."

The Lumberjacks led throughout the entirety of the first set, scoring the first four points. Weber State closed to 7-6, but the NAU advantage quickly grew back to five at 16-11 on one of senior Lauren Jacobsen's five first set kills. The 'Jacks would score the final three points of the set – the final coming on an ace by freshman Sydney Lema – as NAU got off to a fast start.

NAU was only getting started as it hit a blistering .438 in the second set with Barton finding the court on all six of her attempts in the second game for six kills. The set was relatively close with NAU only holding a 12-10 lead before scoring 13 of the final 17 points. A big part of NAU's dominance in the latter half of the game was the Lumberjacks' block totaling four of their six for the set during the final stretch.

After Weber State claimed the first two points out of the intermission, Dorsey served five straight points for NAU and that was all the home team needed to complete the sweep. NAU maintained a steady advantage and recorded another five blocks in the third set with Dorsey playing a role in four of them as Weber State had its lowest offensive showing at .065 hitting. Jacobsen wrapped up the sweep with her 14th kill of the match, as the Lumberjacks upped their record to 14-3 overall and 4-0 in conference.

"Weber State is a good team and today might've been our best match so far this season," Barton said. "We were blocking great, we were passing great and our defense was incredible. We connected really well today."

While Jacobsen and Barton posted double-digit kills, Lofstedt hit .500 and connected on seven kills without an error. Akin and Lema each recorded six kills, with Lema also leading the team with two aces and 13 digs.

In the process, NAU also extended its home win streak to 21 matches inside the Rolle Activity Center.

The Lumberjacks head back out on the road to Eastern Washington next Thursday and Idaho next Saturday. NAU's first match of the week in Cheney, Wash. will start at 6 p.m.