FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – After opening with a dominant 25-13 first set win, NAU battled for 25-19 and 25-21 second and third set wins, respectively, to sweep San Jose State to conclude the opening day of play in the Fiesta Bowl Tournament in Rolle Activity Center. The Lumberjacks remained perfect on the season, improving to 4-0, while San Jose State dropped to 1-3. New Mexico defeated Hampton, 3-0, in the first match of the tournament Friday afternoon.
"I was trying really hard not to show it to the girls, but they knew that I really wanted to win this match," said NAU head coach Craig Choate, who coached at San Jose State for 14 years and was facing his former school for the first time. "This is a group that wants to be great, and that's huge. We just ask them to compete on every ball and I thought they really fought hard tonight, so I'm really happy with the effort."
The Lumberjacks wasted no time asserting themselves on Friday, jumping to an 8-1 lead that eventually was built to a 20-10 advantage. San Jose State hit a match-low -.136 in the opening stanza, concluding the set on an attack error blocked by NAU's Lexi Sullivan, who had four kills and hit .429 in the opening set, and Sydney Kemper to give the home team the early advantage.
The second set was tighter, as neither team led by more than four points throughout. NAU senior Kobi Christensen would record six kills in the set, including one to give NAU a 24-19 lead. An attack error by San Jose State's Hannah Blume would end the set, giving NAU a 2-0 lead.
The squads would total 10 ties and four lead changes in the third set, with San Jose State building a two point lead at 18-16, forcing an NAU timeout. From there NAU would go on a 5-1 run and eventually take a 22-21 lead. A San Jose State service error and a kill by NAU freshman Taylor Stephens moved the Lumberjacks to one point away from victory, and an attack error by the Spartan's Taylor Japhet would clinch the victory for NAU.
Christensen finished with a match-high 13 kills to go with six digs and two blocks while junior setter Kelli Dallmann posted her third double-double of the season with 28 assists and 12 digs while adding five service aces. San Jose State had a negative hitting percentage in every set, finishing at -.056 for the match, while NAU hit .181.
The Fiesta Bowl Tournament continues on Saturday with four matches. NAU will play Hampton at 1 p.m. and New Mexico at 7 p.m., while neutral site matches will be conducted between New Mexico and San Jose State at 10 a.m. and Hampton and San Jose State at 4 p.m. Admission for all matches will be free.