BERKELEY, Calif. – Sophomore Kalee Kirby had a double-double with 41 assists and a career-high 26 digs and freshman Payton Bock totaled nine blocks as NAU withheld a third set rally from Penn to complete a 3-1 (25-19, 25-12, 21-25, 25-17) victory to open the second day of the Molten Classic Presented by Hilton Garden Inn. The Lumberjacks remained undefeated and will face tournament host Cal, which has swept both of its matches thus far in the tournament, at 7 p.m. for the championship.
Kirby also added three kills and two blocks and senior Kelli Dallmann recorded another double-double with 12 kills and 15 digs in the win. NAU outhit Penn .246-.098 for the match and had an 11-6 advantage in blocks, as the Lumberjacks dominated sets 1, 2 and 4 but was upended in the third set.
The teams played even through the majority of the opening set as NAU held a slim 19-18 lead. NAU would close the set on a 6-1 run, including four kills and a block, to take a 1-0 match lead. The Lumberjacks would dominate the second set, totaling 12 kills and just one attack error in the set while hitting .423. Freshman Janae Vander Ploeg had seven kills, a block and an ace in the set and Penn hit .071 as NAU took the set 25-12 to take a 2-0 match lead.
Penn responded in the third, hitting a match high .262 and limiting NAU to a .200 average. Despite the difference in hitting, NAU and Penn were tied at 19-19 late before the Quakers capitalized on two NAU attack errors and two service errors to close on a 6-2 run and force a fourth set. NAU regained its dominance in the fourth set, turning a 17-16 lead into a 25-17 win with an 8-1 finish in which Penn committed four attack errors and NAU scored four of the last five points of the match with kills.
The Lumberjacks have now won 17 consecutive nonconference matches and will look to complete a second consecutive undefeated nonconference season tonight against the Bears, who began the season ranked No. 17 in the nation.