FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Two
traditionally nationally-ranked opponents and nine television
matches highlight the Northern Arizona volleyball schedule for
2009, which also includes the annual Fiesta Bowl Tournament in
Flagstaff on Sept. 11-12.
Craig Choate returns for his second year as head coach of the program after leading last year’s team to its best record in seven years. Choate has put together a tougher early season schedule than the one that saw the Lumberjacks go 8-1 to begin last season, but believes the team will be better for it.
“The schedule is different this year in a few ways,” said Choate, “but most notably it’s that every team but one ended last season with a higher ranking in the RPI than we did. Our toughness in the schedule has increased three or four-fold.”
The NAU TV Services Department is once again televising a majority of the volleyball matches. All nine of the broadcasts will be available on Dish Network 9411 (Universityhouse), and additional stations such as Fox College Sports or FSN Arizona will be announced at a later date. All three of NAU’s Fiesta Bowl Tournament matches will be televised, along with six of the eight home Big Sky Conference contests.
“I hadn’t been on TV before I came here, and it’s fabulous for us,” said Choate. “I can’t tell you how many people told us they watched matches last year, and it helps us get out there in the recruiting world. I think it does nothing but good for the program and for NAU to get us out there.”
NAU begins the season at the Boise State Bronco Invitational where the Lumberjacks will face Cal State Northridge and Tulsa along with host Boise State. “I have a pretty good rivalry with the Northridge coach Jeff Stork who was a gold medal setter in the ’88 Olympics,” says Choate. “He and I have faced each other three times in the past and they’ve all gone to five sets so that’s kind of fun.”
The Lumberjacks will then head to Malibu to take on Pepperdine as part of the USC Tournament. Over the following two days they will also face Florida Gulf Coast and USC in Los Angeles.
The USC Trojans were ranked 13th nationally in the final poll from last year, while Pepperdine was ranked during the season and was the third team receiving votes in the final poll.
“Of course, USC will start the season as a ranked team,” said Choate, “and Pepperdine will probably start the season as a ranked team. I think it has been quite a few years since this program has played any ranked teams. It’s going to be a lot harder to bring home tournament championships than it was last year. I wanted to play those teams because we have such a young team, and I want them to see what the elite looks like so they know what it is we’re trying to become. If they never see it, they don’t have an idea of what we’re striving for.”
NAU will host the 17th annual Fiesta Bowl Tournament on its home court in September, and will be looking to defend its title after going a perfect 3-0 last year.
“The Fiesta Bowl was fabulous last year,” said Choate. “They treated us better than I’ve ever been treated at a tournament. They really did a nice job and I was very impressed. The caliber of the teams participating this year will make it a tougher tournament than last year.”
The Big Sky slate begins for the Lumberjacks on Sept. 17 and 19 with Idaho State and Weber State coming to Flagstaff. The schedule is home-heavy early on with five of the first eight in NAU’s Rolle Activity Center, while five of the final eight league matches will be on the road including the last three straight.
The Big Sky Tournament will have only four berths this year, down from six in previous years, making it tougher for teams to advance to the postseason. “We’re a young team and it will be a challenge to earn a spot at the tournament,” said Choate, “but it’s always our goal to do that.”
May 2, 2010 Athletics Department Hands Out Annual Awards
March 26, 2010 Spring Breakin with Soccer and Volleyball
March 16, 2010 Volleyball Announces Spring Schedule
February 2, 2010 Volleyball Team Earns Seven All-Academic Selections
December 9, 2009 NAU Athletics Conducting Toy Drive for Salvation Army
November 27, 2009 Volleyballs Dallmann Named Outstanding Freshman
November 19, 2009 Volleyball to Close Season at Northern Colorado
November 16, 2009 Volleyball Signs One, Small to Join Lumberjack Roster in 2010
November 14, 2009 Volleyball Drops 3-0 Decision at Eastern Washington
November 13, 2009 Volleyball Swept by Portland State, Dallmann Puts Up Double-Double
November 6, 2009 Lumberjacks Sweep Montana State, Will Face Montana on Saturday
November 4, 2009 Volleyball Closes Home Schedule with Montana State and Montana
October 31, 2009 Missed Opportunities for Volleyball in 3-1 Defeat
October 31, 2009 Volleyball Tops Weber State, Big Sky Race Heats Up
October 29, 2009 Pair of Matches for Volleyball on the Road
October 22, 2009 Volleyball Unable to Fight Off Sacramento State
October 21, 2009 Volleyball Gets Sacramento State at Home on Thursday
October 17, 2009 Volleyballs Win Streak Snapped by Portland State
October 10, 2009 Volleyball Notches Second Conference Win
October 9, 2009 Volleyball Falls 3-0 to Montana
October 8, 2009 Volleyball to Play Pair of Matches in Montana
October 3, 2009 NAU Volleyball Held Off by Northern Colorado
October 2, 2009 Volleyball Hosts Northern Colorado on Saturday Night
September 25, 2009 Volleyball Pushes Sacramento State Throughout in Four-Set Defeat
September 24, 2009 10 Questions with Volleyball's Anna Gott
September 22, 2009 Volleyball Travels to Sacramento State
September 19, 2009 Volleyball Collects First Conference Win Against Weber State
September 18, 2009 Lumberjacks Fall in Four Sets to Idaho State, Dallmann Posts Triple-Double
September 17, 2009 Volleyball Starts Conference Play with Idaho State and Weber State
September 11, 2009 Volleyball Rallies to a Fifth-Set, Falls 3-2 to Wyoming in Home Opener
September 9, 2009 Volleyball Set to Host 2009 Fiesta Bowl Tournament
September 5, 2009 Volleyball Defeated by No. 16 USC in Trojan Invitational Finale
September 3, 2009 Volleyball Drops 3-0 Match to No. 21 Pepperdine at Trojan Invitational
September 2, 2009 Volleyball Travels to Trojan Invitational
August 30, 2009 Volleyball Defeated by Tulsa 3-0 to Close Bronco Invitational
August 29, 2009 Volleyball Suffers First Loss at Bronco Invitational
August 28, 2009 Volleyball Tops Boise State at Bronco Invitational
August 26, 2009 Volleyball to Play in 2009 Boise State Invitational
August 12, 2009 Volleyball Season Preview: Young Squad Gears up for 2009
August 9, 2009 2009 Athletics Hall of Fame Recipients Announced
July 31, 2009 Volleyball Earns AVCA Team Academic Award