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NAU Starts Big Sky Stretch Run at Home with Montana State, Montana

Hannah Cherry
Hannah Cherry

Match Information:

Opponent: Montana State (Thursday, Oct. 20/7:00 p.m.)

Opponent: Montana (Saturday, Oct. 22/12:00 p.m.)

Location: Flagstaff, Ariz. - Rolle Activity Center

Live Stats: www.nauathletics.com

Video (Both matches): watchbigsky.com

Audio (UM match only): kjackradio.com (KJACK 107.1 FM)

MATCH NOTES (PDF)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Northern Arizona volleyball aims to build on a pair of big victories when Montana State and Montana enter the Rolle Activity Center this week in NAU's second-to-final homestand of the season. The Lumberjacks will host the Bobcats on Thursday at 7 p.m., with their tilt against the Grizzlies on Saturday at 12 p.m. before the two schools battle it out in the Walkup Skydome for a crucial Big Sky football matchup later in the day.

Ken Murphy's Sound Bite: "Our focus is always on how can we improve and keep moving in the direction that we're moving. Skillwise and in our systems, we're getting better. We're gaining a much better understanding of how hard we need to work and how much we need to focus to ge the results we want. I'm so impressed with our team's commitment to be even better and we want to be playing our best come November."

Promotions: Thursday's match will be the fourth and final #LouieLegit match with the first 250 NAU students receiving blue suspenders. Students are encouraged to come dressed in the entire #LouieLegit set including past giveaways - headband, foam axe and gold t-shirt - for the culmination of the ultimate spirit contest. Saturday's match will be Native American Heritage Day and the first 250 fans will receive rally towels.

TV: Thursday's match will be televised live by NAU-TV and shown live on local Flagstaff cable on Suddenlink channels 4 and 104. It will be broadcasted live on Fox Sports Arizona Plus and Fox College Sports Pacific. Check your local listings for channel information.

Previewing The 'Jacks: NAU extended its home win streak to 23 matches with a four-set win over Portland State and a three-set sweep of Sacramento State last week. The Lumberjacks, 17-4 overall, are atop the Big Sky South Division and is tied for first overall with North Dakota with a 7-1 Big Sky record at the end of the first half of conference play. Freshman Abby Akin picked up her second Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week award after notching 13 blocks in the two wins last week. She ranks fourth in the conference with 1.20 blocks per set this season and is second to only senior Jensen Barton in hitting percentage at .365. The Lumberjacks have also received important contributions from redshirt sophomore Kaylie Jorgenson recently. In the last three matches - all NAU victories - she has averaged 2.92 kills per set including a career-high 13 kills against Sacramento State. NAU continues to lead the Big Sky in hitting percentage overall this season at .275, and the 'Jacks also now lead the league in opponent hitting percentage at .153.

The Montana State Scout: Montana State was swept by North Dakota and Northern Colorado on its road trip last week, which pushed its losing streak to three. The Bobcats are 4-13 overall and 2-6 in conference after being picked 11th in the preseason poll. Caitlin Lonergan is one of three Bobcats who average more than two kills per set. She leads the team with a 2.61 kill average and is second in the conference with 0.34 aces per set. Allyssa Rizzo is 10th in the conference with 3.92 digs per set. Montana State is hitting just .148 as a team and is allowing its opponents to hit .279.

The Montana Scout: Montana has dropped its last six matches, including a pair of 3-0 losses at Northern Colorado and North Dakota last week. The Grizzlies, voted 12th in the preseason poll, are 4-14 overall and 1-7 in Big Sky play. Alexis Urbach leads the Grizzlies in kills with 2.31 per set and is hitting .217. Raegan Lindsey - 4.86 assists per set - and Ashley Watkins - 3.97 assists per set - split the setting duties for Montana. Watkins is also the team leader with 15 service aces. The Grizzlies own a hitting percentage of .113 and an opponent hitting percentage of .250. 

Series History: 

  • NAU and Montana State will be meeting for the 60th time in school history. NAU leads the all-time series 36-23. NAU won the only meeting last season, 3-0, on Oct. 10, 2015 in Bozeman.
  • NAU and Montana will be meeting for the 63rd time in school history. UM leads the all-time series 33-29. NAU won the only meeting last season, 3-0, on Oct. 8, 2015 in Missoula.

NAU Quick Sets: 

  • NAU currently holds the second-longest home winning streak in the country at 23 victories dating back to Oct. 30, 2014, its last loss in the Rolle Activity Center to Idaho State. Minnesota holds the longest active home winning streak at 25 matches.
  • The Lumberjacks jumped up to No. 106 in this week's NCAA RPI rankings from No. 125 last week. They are the highest rated team among Big Sky Conferences squads.
  • NAU ranks second in the nation in both total aces (161) and aces per set (2.01).
  • Senior Lauren Jacobsen is approaching both the 1,000 kill and 1,000 dig mark. She is currently at 943 career kills and 939 career digs and is closing in on becoming the sixth player in program history to join the 1,000/1,000 club.
  • With Akin's selection as Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week, she joined Jacobsen as the only players to receive multiple Player of the Week honors from the conference office this season. The 'Jacks have a league-high five awards with Barton also receiving an accolade.

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