SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Junior Lexi Sullivan posted a season best 22 kills, including five kills in the decisive fifth set, as Northern Arizona outlasted Sacramento State, 3-2, for its first win in Sacramento in program history (25-18, 15-25, 25-18, 20-25, 15-7). NAU improved to 12-0, surpassing the 11-0 record of the 1991 team for the best season start in program history, while moving to 3-0 in conference play.
NAU is now one of only six remaining undefeated Division-I volleyball teams in the country after San Diego dropped its first match of the season on Thursday. Sacramento State, which had gone 17-0 all-time against NAU in Sacramento, dropped its sixth consecutive match overall, falling to 5-9 overall and 0-1 in the Big Sky. The match was the fourth consecutive five-set affair between the teams in Sacramento.
"I think that this team is just extremely confident and set five doesn't scare them," said head coach Craig Choate. "Other teams might have a tendency to back off a little bit, but we just come out strong. Since Kobi (Christensen) went down everybody has stepped up and I'm really proud of them."
After NAU had a 17-15 lead in the first set, the Lumberjacks went on an 8-3 run to close the set strong for a 25-18 win. Sullivan had seven kills and hit .412 in the opening set as NAU jumped to the early lead.
Sacramento State controlled the second set from the onset, taking a quick 4-0 lead and then an 8-2 advantage. NAU would battle back and eventually pull within four points at 19-15, but the Hornets would score the next six points, led by three kills from Kelsey Elston, to even the match with a 25-15 set victory.
The third set began even at 10-10, but NAU would make its move in scoring 11 of the next 14 points to take a 21-13 lead. With the score 24-18, Sullivan connected for a kill to give NAU the set. After leading 18-17 in the fourth set, Sacramento State capitalized on two attack errors and two service errors from NAU to pull away for a 25-20 win to force a fifth set.
The Lumberjacks would rally back to dominate the fifth set, hitting .647 as a team in the deciding stanza. After NAU took a 9-5 lead, the Lumberjacks would ice the match with five kills over the ensuing eight points, capped by Sullivan's 22nd kill on the 57th assists from junior setter Kelli Dallmann, to give NAU the victory.
Sullivan hit a perfect 1.000 in the fifth set, hitting .250 for the match. Junior Lauren Campbell and freshman Sydney Kemper again shined in the absence of Christensen, with each totaling 13 kills. Junior Jen Wilson contributed nine kills to go with a career high 22 digs and three blocks, while Dallmann totaled 15 digs and four blocks in addition to her season high 57 assists. Junior Anna Gott had 24 digs and senior Katie Bailey notched seven blocks, as NAU totaled 11.0 blocks as a team. NAU hit .291 as a team while Sacramento State hit .232, becoming the first team all season to hit above .200 against the Lumberjacks.
Northern Arizona will continue its season-long four match road trip with a pair of matches next weekend, starting at Portland State next Friday at 7 p.m.