CEDAR CITY, Utah – After dropping the first set NAU outlasted Southern Utah 27-25 in the second set and took the third and fourth sets to complete a 3-1 (22-25, 27-25, 25-19, 25-13) win in the first match between the school as conference foes on Monday night in Cedar City, Utah. NAU, playing the first of three road matches in five days this week, is 3-1 in the Big Sky and 11-2 overall and dropped Southern Utah to 6-9 overall and 2-2 in conference.
"This was really a nice test for us because Southern Utah played well," NAU head coach Craig Choate said. "It was good for us to win a match where we got pushed around a little bit. We had to fight and pick up our game to win it."
Senior Anna Gott totaled 28 digs in the contest and now stands just 16 digs shy of Chelsea Robb's NAU career record of 1,549 digs. With a 4.55 career digs per set average and having totaled 16 or more digs six times this season, Gott will have a strong chance to break the program record in NAU's next match on Thursday at Portland State.
Senior Jen Wilson posted a double-double with season highs of 13 kills and 11 digs while hitting .423 while sophomore Kalee Kirby also totaled a double-double with 44 assists and 12 digs in the win over the Thunderbirds. Middle blockers Sydney Kemper and Payton Bock also recorded double-digit kills as NAU outhit SUU .226-.190 for the match and committed only three attack errors in both the third and fourth sets. Southern Utah senior Analaine Mailoto led the Thunderbirds with 24 kills and 14 digs.
Southern Utah took a 10-7 lead early in the opening set before NAU battled back to take a 16-13 lead. The Lumberjacks maintained a three point cushion to 18-15, but a 7-0 Thunderbird run gave the home team a 22-18 advantage. Down 24-19 NAU withstood three set points before a kill gave SUU the opening set 25-22.
NAU would build a 15-10 lead midway through the second set and would maintain a five point spread at 22-17. The Thunderbirds would then rally again, using a 4-0 run to get within 22-21, but NAU reached set point at 24-22. Two straight points by the Thunderbirds leveled the set at 24-24 and the home team would withstand a third set point as the score moved to 25-25. A kill by Bock gave NAU a fourth set point, and an ensuing kill from Wilson closed the set to even the match at 1-1
In the third set the Thunderbirds jumped to an 11-7 advantage and held a 16-13 lead before NAU used a 6-0 run to take a 19-16 lead. The home team would get back within a 20-19 deficit but the Lumberjacks closed the set with three kills, a service ace, and a block to pull away to a 25-19 win.
While the first three sets were back and forth affairs, NAU dominated the fourth set from the onset. The Lumberjacks outhit the Thunderbirds .367 to .027 in the set, jumping to an early 4-0 lead and maintaining an advantage of at least three points for the duration. NAU used a 6-0 run to turn a 16-8 lead into a 22-8 advantage and eventually closed out a 25-13 match-clinching set on a kill from senior Kelli Dallmann.
The Lumberjacks head right back on the road to face Portland State at 7 p.m. Thursday and Eastern Washington at 7 p.m. Friday.