Opponent: North Dakota (Thursday, Nov. 10/7:00 p.m.)
Opponent: Southern Utah (Saturday, Nov. 12/2:00 p.m.)
Location: Flagstaff, Ariz. - Rolle Activity Center
Live Stats: www.nauathletics.com
Video (Both matches): watchbigsky.com
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The regular season ends this week and it will be a big one for the Northern Arizona volleyball team. In their penultimate match on Thursday, the Lumberjacks will host the Big Sky's current leader, North Dakota, in a must-win match for NAU's hopes to host the Big Sky Tournament. Thursday's match will start at 7 p.m. in the Rolle Activity Center.
The Lumberjacks must win on Thursday in order to keep their bid alive to host next week's conference tournament for the second straight year.
Ken Murphy's Sound Bite: "Thursday is a big match, it may be the biggest match of the year in our conference, and our girls are excited to play in it. North Dakota is playing so well and we understand the ramifications of this match, but we're using this week to prep for next week. Both of these matches are important to us and we hope to continue to learn about what allows us to be successful. We want to use this week to help us get better to move through the tournament."
Promotions: Thursday's match will be Service Appreciation Night with the first 250 fans receiving a USA flag bandana. For Saturday's Senior Day match, fans are encouraged to wear blue for a Blue Out. The first 250 fans will receive a blue water bottle. One lucky fan will also have a chance to win a car from Oxendale Auto Group at Saturday's match.
TV: Both of this week's matches will be televised live by NAU-TV and shown live on local Flagstaff cable on Suddenlink channels 4 and 104. Thursday's match will be broadcasted live on Fox Sports Arizona Plus, Fox Sports North Plus and Fox College Sports Pacific, while Saturday's match will be shown live on Fox Sports Arizona and Fox College Sports Pacific. Check your local listings for channel information.
Previewing The 'Jacks: NAU returns home after two weeks on the road and still have hopes of earning the right to host next week's Big Sky Tournament. NAU (21-6, 11-3 in conference) dropped a dramatic five-set match at Idaho State last Saturday after sweep Weber State on Thursday. Senior Lauren Jacobsen has been solid on both fronts this season, recording a conference-best 19 double-doubles. Jacobsen leads the team with 4.07 kills per set and is second with 3.48 digs per set. Redshirt freshman Hannah Cherry has filled in admirably at libero, starting both of last week's matches at the position. She averaged 5.63 digs per set last week and totaled 29 against Idaho State - the most by a Lumberjack this season. For the fourth straight week, NAU leads the Big Sky in hitting percentage (.261) and opponent hitting percentage (.154). Defensively, the 'Jacks have stepped up their play during the conferense season, averaging 2.64 blocks and 18.71 digs per set.
The North Dakota Scout: North Dakota was picked third in the preseason poll and enter the final week of the regular season in the lead to host the conference tournament. The Fighting Hawks are 12-2 in Big Sky play and 21-9 overall having won six straight matches including five straight in conference play. Tamara Merseli is one of four players averaging two kills per set. She leads the team at 2.76 and in conference play is averaging 3.06. Faith Dooley leads the conference in blocks at 1.44 per set in Big Sky play. Overall, she is fourth with 1.18 blocks per set this season. The Fighting Hawks are third as a team in hitting percentage (.223) and opponent hitting percentage (.175) and second in both blocks (2.61 per set) and digs (17.25 per set).
The Southern Utah Scout: Southern Utah has lost its last five matches including a four-set loss at Idaho State and a three-set loss at Weber State on the road last week. The Thunderbirds are 4-22 overall and 2-12 in the Big Sky. Chennin Benson is seventh in the conference in kills with a team-leading 3.17 per set. In the teams' first match this season, she tallied a match-high 12 kills. Ann Clappier ranks second in the Big Sky with 1.29 blocks per set this season with a slight uptick in conference play at 1.35. The Thunderbirds are the conference's third-best blocking team at 2.48 per set. For the season though they are only hitting .150 and are averaging a Big Sky low 10.65 kills per set.
- NAU and North Dakota will be meeting for the seventh time in school history. NAU leads the all-time series 5-1. NAU won the only meeting last season, 3-0, on Oct. 22, 2015 in Flagstaff.
- NAU and Southern Utah will be meeting for the 25th time in school history. NAU leads the all-time series 19-5. NAU won the first meeting, 3-0, on Sept. 24 in Cedar City.
NAU Quick Sets:
- NAU currently holds the second-longest home winning streak in the country at 25 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 28 matches.
- The Lumberjacks sits at a season-high No. 97 in this week's NCAA RPI Rankings.
- Redshirt sophomore Brittni Dorsey tallied eight service aces last week, and has now recorded 57 aces this season. If she were to record five this weekend, she would set a new single season school record.
- Senior Jensen Barton is one of 12 players in the country to notch at least three triple-doubles this season. Barton recorded her third of the season last Saturday at Idaho State and is the owner of three of the Big Sky's five triple-doubles this season.
- If NAU winds up as the tournament host, it would be the first school to host the conference tournament in consecutive years since Portland State did so in 2010-11.
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