FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – A perfect 4-0 at home this season, Northern Arizona (8-4, 3-0 BSC) closes out its 2010 home schedule at Flagstaff Athletic Club East with a Big Sky match against Montana (2-3, 1-0 BSC), the only other undefeated team in conference play, Friday at 1 p.m. The Lumberjacks will play one neutral site match in Phoenix and seven road matches, including four road-Big Sky tilts, over the final month of the regular season.
"This is a really big match for us," assistant coach Rich Paulosky said. "We've been working really hard building this team and we have a chance to remain undefeated in the Big Sky. With the last-four conference matches on the road, its really imporant that we do well and get another win to close our home schedule."
The Lumberjacks have won 10 consecutive home matches over the last-three seasons, with their last home loss coming on March 28, 2008 against Montana State. Northern Arizona has been almost perfect at home this season, losing only one singles match in four home dates and dropping only two doubles matches on their home court. NAU has been almost as dominate in its three Big Sky matches this season (home matches against Sacramento State and Montana State, road match at Northern Colorado), with a combined 17-1 conference singles record and 7-2 mark in Big Sky doubles matches.
Individually, freshman Hugo Ramadier has been dominant in his first season on the mountain campus, posting a 10-2 singles record so far this season. After starting the season at No. 4 singles, the freshman from Rome, Italy has ascended to the No. 2 singles spot behind sophomore Andrew Reiff. The back-end of the Lumberjack lineup has been just as dominate as the top, with junior David Flodberg (7-3 at No. 5) and freshman Kevin Taylor (8-2 at No. 6) cruising to victories and crucial team points on a consistent basis. In doubles, Reiff and sophomore Robin Pezzutto posted a 6-1 record at No. 3 before moving up to No. 1, posting a 9-3 overall record in doubles play this season.
The Grizzlies have played only five matches this season (2-3) but are 1-0 in the Big Sky with a 4-3 road win over Portland State. Montana lost to Montana State last week, 4-3, but the match was not considered a conference match as the teams will be meeting again later this year in Missoula. Montana also has a 5-2 win over Gonzaga this season in a neutral-site match in Portland.
Sophomores Josh Smith and Carl Kuschke are both 3-2 in singles for Montana, but the Grizzlies are a combined 0-5 for the season at No. 1 singles and just 1-4 at No. 2. They are also 1-4 at No. 1 doubles as the top spots have been problematic for Montana, which has used five different doubles combinations through five matches.
NAU is 16-6 all-time against Montana, but is looking for revenge after getting eliminated by the Grizzlies, 4-2, in last season's Big Sky Championship quarterfinals. The Lumberjacks also lost to Montana during the 2009 regular season, but were victorious in their last meeting in Flagstaff in 2008- a win that started Northern Arizona's current 10-match home winning streak.