FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – It was an historic night for Northern Arizona women's volleyball as the Lumberjacks sealed their 11th Fiesta Bowl Tournament Championship beating Maryland Eastern Shore, 3-0, at the Rolle Activity Center on Saturday. The night was coupled by Northern Arizona Head Volleyball Coach Craig Choate winning the 300th match of his career.
NAU (4-3) won its third consecutive match pushing past Maryland Eastern Shore (1-5) in straight sets. The Lumberjacks continued their strong play behind the Fiesta Bowl Tournament Most Valuable Player Kobi Christensen.
In NAU's three matches this weekend, Christensen totaled 48 kills on 78 attacks for a .474 hitting percentage and only 11 errors. She posted 4.80 kills per set with 1.20 digs per set. Against Maryland Eastern Shore, Christensen turned in the match's only double-double with 13 kills (4.33 kps) and 11 digs (3.66 dps).
"It is an honor to receive this award but I could not have done it without my teammates," said Christensen. "The team played great and I am really excited to win our tournament and leave with three wins. Every year we want to win the Fiesta Bowl Tournament and we did not do that last year so this is really special. I am also really happy for Coach (Choate) on his 300th win. That is an amazing accomplishment and we are all really proud of him."
Choate reached the 300-win milestone seven matches into his 20th overall year as a head coach. Choate started his head coaching career at New Mexico State in 1990. He spent three seasons in Las Cruces, N.M. and 14 seasons at San Jose State before arriving in Flagstaff in 2008. In his third season with the Lumberjacks, Choate has amassed a record of 27-30.
"It is great for us to win this event," said Choate. "We did not play great tonight but I am glad we were able to close out the tournament the way we did."
The Lumberjacks finished the weekend as the only undefeated team at the Fiesta Bowl Tournament. Texas A&M Corpus Christi finished 2-1 and in second place after a head-to-head tiebreaker with Rider who also posted a 2-1 record this weekend. Maryland Eastern Shore finished 0-3.
The Lumberjacks posted solid numbers throughout the weekend including Saturday night's match against Maryland Eastern Shore hitting .278 as a team and limiting UMES to a .149 hitting percentage. Christensen led all players with a .550 hitting percentage and 13 kills.
The Lumberjacks travel to Reno, Nev., for the Wolfpack Invitational next weekend. NAU plays Nevada at noon and Pacific at 5 p.m. on Friday, September 10. The following day, the Lumberjacks face Arizona at noon.
DID YOU KNOW…Three Lumberjack student-athletes were among the 37 graduating seniors that were recognized with the prestigious Gold Axe Award in 2010 for their achievements. The recipients included Jessi Jones (women's swimming), Lauren Salter (track and field) and Emy Ziemba (cheer and dance). The athletics department has produced 16 Gold Axe recipients since 2004.