FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The NAU volleyball team (15-5, 6-5 BSC) will look to extend its brief two match winning streak with a pair of home matches this week against two of the top teams in the Big Sky, first hosting Eastern Washington (12-11, 8-4 BSC) on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Rolle Activity Center. The Eagles begin the week in third place in the conference while NAU currently sits in fifth place.
Thursday's match will air live on Fox College Sports Pacific and NAU-TV with Mitch Strohman and Sharon Falor calling the action. Online streaming of the broadcast will be available on bigskytv.org and nau.edu/nau-tv, with links to online video and live stats available on nauathletics.com.
NAU will host the first and third-place teams in the Big Sky standings this week, with a match against conference-leading Portland State to take place Saturday night. The three remaining home contests for NAU are against the top three teams in the conference standings, while the Lumberjacks will face last-place Weber State and Idaho State in their two remaining road contests. Portland State enters the week atop the conference with a 9-3 record and will play at second-place Northern Colorado on Thursday before coming to Flagstaff. The top four teams in the final regular season standings will advance to the Big Sky championship in Portland Nov. 25-26.
The Lumberjacks lead the Big Sky in opponent hitting percentage (.155) and rank third in the conference in hitting percentage (.193), assists (11.68/set), kills (12.41/set), and digs (16.27/set). Individually, Kelli Dallmann is second in assists (10.15/set) and is eighth in service aces (0.27/set) while Anna Gott is fourth in digs (4.63/set). Sydney Kemper is third in blocks (1.12/set) and fifth in hitting percentage (.255), with Katie Bailey just behind at seventh in hitting percentage (.251)
NAU won its second consecutive match last Saturday, playing one of its most complete matches of the year in a five set win over Sacramento State. Paired with the Lumberjacks' 3-1 win over Montana State in their prior contest, NAU has hit .226 over the last two matches will limiting its opponents to a .129 hitting percentage. The Lumberjacks have averaged 2.67 blocks per set during the brief winning streak and 13.22 assists per set. Perhaps most impressive is the 20.89 digs per set that NAU has recorded; by comparison, the NCAA Division-I leader in digs for the season, Duquesne, has averaged 19.08 digs per set.
Eastern Washington has won four consecutive matches after enduring a five-match losing streak. The Lumberjacks rallied for a 3-2 win at Eastern Washington earlier this season, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to earn the win in five sets. Eagle junior outside hitter Cora Kellerman is the defending Big Sky player of the week after recording consecutive double-doubles last weekend. For the season she ranks fifth in the conference with 3.15 kills per set while teammate Shelby Puckett is seventh with 2.98 kills per set. NAU has won its last three home matches against Eastern Washington.
Portland State begins the week atop the Big Sky standings, having won five consecutive matches. When NAU and PSU first met this season in Portland on Sept. 30, the Vikings handed the Lumberjacks their first loss of the season with a 3-1 triumph, ending NAU's program record 12-0 start. Portland State ranks second in the Big Sky in kills (12.68/set) and assists (11.83/set). Freshman Katie O'Brien leads the Big Sky and ranks 29th in the country with 1.28 blocks per set and is second in the conference in hitting percentage (.306). NAU has lost 14 consecutive matches to Portland State, having last defeated the Vikings in 2004.