FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – After scoring a 3-1 win over Sacramento State in its home opener on Thursday, the NAU Volleyball team (10-2, 2-1 BSC) returns to the road to take on new Big Sky member Southern Utah (6-8, 2-1 BSC) at 6 p.m. Monday in Cedar City, Utah. The Lumberjacks have three road matches in just five days this coming week after playing their first 11 matches on the road, as the team will play 14 of its first 15 matches of the season away from Flagstaff.
"There's nothing we can do to change it, so we're going to go try to win three matches," head coach Craig Choate said. "Everybody in the conference has a trip like this, and especially with us having been on the road so much we know how to do it. Two years ago Southern Utah beat us in five so I'm looking to get back at them."
Freshman middle blocker Payton Bock was the star of NAU's home opener as she totaled a career-high 12 kills on a .556 hitting percentage along with eight blocks. She led the Lumberjacks to a 16-12 blocking advantage against the Hornets, who came into the match ranked fourth in NCAA Division-I in averaging 3.07 blocks per set. Sophomore Sydney Kemper added six blocks and senior Jen Wilson had five, including two solo blocks. The trio all rank in the top seven in the Big Sky in blocks per set for the season
As a team the Lumberjacks are now second in the Big Sky with a 2.57 blocks per set average. After holding the Hornets to a .096 hitting percentage on Thursday NAU also now leads the Big Sky with a .168 opponent hitting percentage while ranking second in the conference with a .261 hitting percentage of its own. NAU also became the first team in the conference to reach double-digit wins with its victory on Thursday.
Southern Utah has an identical 2-1 Big Sky record after defeating Sacramento State, 3-1, on Saturday night after matching NAU with a split at Idaho State and Weber State during the first weekend of conference play. Senior Analaine Mailoto had 18 kills and 17 digs in the Thunderbird win vs Sacramento State while Cashaana Renfro led an 18-block effort for the team with nine total blocks. The Thunderbirds went winless in two of their three nonconference tournaments but won three of four matches in a tournament at Savannah State.
The Thunderbirds rank second to last in the Big Sky in assists and kills but are third with 1.38 service aces per set. Setter Gabi Mirand ranks third in the conference with 0.46 service aces per set and ranks eighth with 8.96 assists per set while Mailoto ranks third in the Big Sky with 3.85 kills per set while adding 2.62 digs and 0.51 blocks per set. NAU holds a 7-3 all-time record against Southern Utah though the Thunderbirds won the last meeting between the teams in Wyoming in 2010.