SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Northern Arizona volleyball was stung by the big momentum-changing runs and was swept for the first time this season, 25-15, 25-18, 25-19, by Sacramento State Thursday night. The Lumberjacks' five-match win streak came to an end on the first leg of a four-match road trip, and saw them fall to 9-2 in conference play and 19-5 overall.
Although NAU committed only nine attack errors on the night, it hit only .195 due to Sacramento State's robust 79 digs in just three sets. The Hornets refused to allow the Lumberjacks to kill the ball easily as no 'Jack recorded double-digit kills. On the other side, Sacramento State tallied 53 kills as a team with a trio of players at 14 apiece and as a team the Hornets hit .302 despite the Lumberjacks holding the block advantage at 7.0-5.0.
The Lumberjacks played their best set in what would be the final set as they mostly avoided the crushing Hornet run that doomed them in the first two games. Senior Lauren Jacobsen tallied four of her seven kills on the night in the third game, but NAU's early 5-2 lead would not hold up. Sacramento State strung together a pair of three-point spurts during a 6-2 run that snapped a 15-all tie. The separation was enough for the Hornets to hand the Lumberjacks their first regular season three-set loss since Oct. 2, 2014 at Idaho.
In the first two sets, NAU was done in by a pair of runs starting in the opening game. After cutting an initial 3-0 Hornet lead to 7-6, the Lumberjacks fell victim to a 7-0 Sacramento State run that did more than enough damage. The 'Jacks were forced to call both of their timeouts during the run and never could recover from the massive blow dealt by the Hornets.
NAU closed the second set with eight of the final 12 points, but ultimately was unable to overcome yet another huge Sacramento State run – this time to start the set. The Hornets claimed the first six points and nine of the first 10, and led by as much as 11 points at 21-10 before freshman Sydney Lema helped NAU regain its footing with three kills during a 4-0 NAU run. Although the 'Jacks made a dent in the Hornet lead, they went into the locker room down 2-0 with a little momentum that would carry over into the tightest set of the night.
Lema finished with a team-high eight kills and hit .280. Barton notched her 13th double-double of the season with 23 assists and 11 digs, and moved into third all-time in school history in career assists. She also added six kills and two blocks. Sophomore Jordan Anderson tied for match-high honors with 21 digs, marking her sixth 20-dig match of the season.
Freshman Abby Akin spearheaded NAU's blocking efforts which tallied three blocks in both the second and third sets. She finished with a match-high four blocks, with senior Addy Lofstedt and redshirt sophomore Brittni Dorsey each tallying three stuffs themselves. However, NAU – second in the country in total aces – was held without a single service ace for the first time this season and could not create any service pressure leading to Sacramento State's effective hitting performance.
NAU's second conference loss places it in a virtual tie with North Dakota for overall best league record. The Fighting Hawks were idle on Thursday and will play their first match of the week on Friday night. The Lumberjacks remain a game up on the Hornets for the top record in the South Division.
NAU will close the week in Portland, Ore. on Saturday against Portland State. The Lumberjacks and Vikings get started at 7:30 p.m.