Opponent: Sacramento State (Thursday, Oct. 27/7:00 p.m.)
Location: Sacramento, Calif.
Live Stats: www.hornetsports.com
Opponent: Portland State (Saturday, Oct. 29/7:30 p.m.)
Location: Portland, Ore.
Live Stats: www.goviks.com
Video (Both matches): www.watchbigsky.com
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The road to the Big Sky Tournament starts this week with the Northern Arizona volleyball team traveling to Sacramento State and Portland State in the first half of four consecutive road matches. The Lumberjacks, the only team to clinch a spot in the tournament to date, defeated both the Hornets and Vikings on their home court two weeks ago. NAU takes on Sacramento State on Thursday at 7 p.m. and then will play Portland State on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Ken Murphy's Sound Bite: "We're hoping to be tough enough to get through this stretch. These teams are good and they gave us great challenges when we played them the first time. We know it's going to be hard, and our team is ready for the challenge. Every match is going to be tough from here on out, and for our team we can rise to the occasion. We want to prove to ourselves that we've come as far as we feel we have."
Previewing The 'Jacks: NAU starts a critical four-match divisional road swing over the next two weeks currently in sole possession of the Big Sky's top conference record at 9-1. The Lumberjacks, 19-4 overall, swept Montana State and Montana to close a perfect four-match homestand last week. Senior Lauren Jacobsen returned to form last week and continues to be NAU's go-to hitter, ranking second in the conference with 4.23 kills per set. She leads the Big Sky with 17 double-doubles. Jacobsen could also eclipse both the 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs marks this week. She begins the week with 969 kills and 964 digs. Defensively, redshirt sophomore Brittni Dorsey and sophomore Jordan Anderson have elevated their play during the conference slate. Dorsey is averaging a team-high 1.33 blocks per set in conference play, while Anderson is averaging 4.28 digs per set with double-digit digs in all but one Big Sky match. The 'Jacks lead the Big Sky in both hitting percentage (.273) and opponent hitting percentage (.148) for the second consecutive week.
The Sacramento State Scout: Sacramento State returned home and promptly swept Idaho and Eastern Washington to snap a three-game losing streak. The Hornets are now 13-11 overall and 7-3 in conference play, tied for second in the Big Sky South Division. Shannon Boyle is fourth in the conference with 3.55 kills per set, and recorded 15 kills versus NAU two weeks ago. Kennedy Kurtz and Lexie Skalbeck rank first in the Big Sky in assists and digs respectively. Kurtz is averaging 11.16 assists per set, while Skalbeck is at 4.91 digs per set. The Hornets lead the entire league in kills as a team with 13.73 per set on .209 hitting which ranks fifth. They also rank second in digs with 16.99 per set.
The Portland State Scout: Portland State has won its last three matches including a five-set thriller over Eastern Washington and a four-set win over Idaho at home last week. The Vikings currently reside in fourth in the Big Sky South with a 5-5 conference record and are 13-9 overall. Pati Anae has been the Big Sky's kills leader the entire season and is averaging 4.30 per set. Anae posted 14 kills against NAU in the teams' last meeting. Erin Clark is third in the league in assists per set with an average of 10.64. The Vikings are just behind the Hornets in kills per set at 13.68, while ranking third in the conference in aces with 1.39 per set.
- NAU and Sacramento State will be meeting for the 50th time in school history. SAC leads the all-time series 33-15. NAU won the first meeting this season, 3-0, on Oct. 15 in Flagstaff.
- NAU and Portland State will be meeting for the 42nd time in school history. NAU leads the all-time series 22-19. NAU won the first meeting, 3-1, on Oct. 13 in Flagstaff.
NAU Quick Sets:
- The Lumberjacks moved up two more spots to No. 104 in this week's NCAA RPI rankings. They started out at No. 127 three weeks ago and are the highest rated Big Sky team for the second straight week.
- NAU ranks second in the nation in total aces with 171 and fourth in aces per set at 1.99.
- Redshirt sophomore Kaylie Jorgenson is averaging 3.18 kills per set over the last five matches. She has recorded double-digit kills in four of those five matches.
- Senior Jensen Barton needs just 20 assists to move into third all-time in school history.
- Barton continues to lead the Big Sky in hitting percentage at .383.
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