OGDEN, Utah – The Northern Arizona volleyball team has been picked to finish seventh in the Big Sky in 2011 in voting conducted by the conference head coaches. NAU garnered 26 points in the poll, finishing ahead of Montana State and Weber State. The Lumberjacks have finished seventh in the Big Sky in each of the last two seasons.
Northern Colorado was picked to win the conference, earning 63 points and seven of nine first place votes. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.
"This is a much better team than others realize, but it's hard to judge teams based on potential," said NAU head volleyball coach Craig Choate. "I think we are an absolute contender for the Big Sky tournament and I expect us to be there. If we can win early in the season and get into the right mindset, we have the potential to be as good as anybody in this conference."
NAU returns four of six starters (plus libero Anna Gott) from the 2010 squad, which finished with ten victories and went 6-10 in Big Sky play. The Lumberjacks went 7-4 at home last season, including a sweep of all three games in the Fiesta Bowl tournament. Setter Kelli Dallmann returns for her junior season after earning an All-Big Sky second team selection in 2010. The Peoria native was second in the Big Sky with an average of 10.00 assists per set and was sixth in the conference with 11 double-doubles.
After losing just one senior off the 2010 roster, NAU will have nine combined juniors and seniors this year in addition to five incoming freshmen. The season begins on August 26, when the Lumberjacks will face CSU Bakersfield at the Wolverine Invitational in Orem, Utah.
Team - Points (First Place Votes)
1. Northern Colorado - 63 (7)
2. Portland State - 55 (2)
3. Montana - 44
4. Sacramento State - 40
5. Idaho State - 36
6. Eastern Washington - 34
7. Northern Arizona - 26
8. Montana State - 15
9. Weber State - 11