FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – NAU recorded 17 blocks and held Idaho State, which began the night leading the Big Sky with a .252 season hitting percentage, to a .139 mark to score a 3-1 (25-23, 25-19, 23-25, 25-21) win over the on Saturday night in Rolle Activity Center. The Lumberjacks avenged their loss to the Bengals in Pocatello earlier this season and moved into a tie with ISU for second in the Big Sky at 10-2 in conference play and 18-3 overall.
"Every win is a confidence builder and the truth is we're a confident team," NAU head coach Craig Choate said. "We haven't played (with the same speed) at home as we have in road matches and we wanted to bring that. It was kind of easy tonight because it was Idaho State, and with the big dog in town they knew they had to prove themselves and did"
Freshman Payton Bock led the NAU defensive effort with a career-high 10 blocks to go with 10 kills for her first career double-double. Sophomore Sydney Kemper paced NAU offensively with 15 kills on a .464 hitting percentage to go with six blocks, and senior Kelli Dallmann finished just short of a double-double with nine kills and 18 digs. NAU had a .153-.139 advantage in hitting percentage for the match, holding the Bengals to sub-.190 hitting percentage in each set, and outblocked Idaho State 17.0-8.0. Idaho State setter Lori Mendenhall had 53 assists and 24 digs in a losing cause.
All four sets were competitive, beginning with the opening stanza in which neither team led by more than four points. The set was tied at 17-17 before NAU used a 4-0 run to take a 21-17 lead. After NAU moved to set point a 24-20 Idaho State was able to fend off three set points before a kill by Bock gave the home team a 1-0 lead.
The second set was tight as well as ISU rallied from down 14-9 to level the set and hold a tied score to 19-19. The Lumberjacks took over from there with a block, two Bengals attacked errors, and three kills from Kemper to end the set on a 6-0 run and take a 2-0 lead.
There were 13 ties and six lead changes in the third set in which NAU was held to a .029 hitting percentage and the Bengals hit a match-best .188. The set was again extremely close as neither team led by more than two points and the squads were even at 23-23. A kill by Idaho State senior Jaclyn Hone and a Lumberjack attack error gave ISU the set to extend to a fourth.
NAU took a 16-10 lead in the fourth set but the Bengals battled back to level the set at 18-18 with an 8-2 run. The Lumberjacks responded with a 5-0 spurt to take a 23-18 lead, and up 24-20 ISU withstood two match points before a block by Kemper and sophomore Taylor Stephens clinched the NAU victory.
The Lumberjacks and Bengals are tied for second in the Big Sky at 10-2 behind conference-leading Portland State, which improved to 11-1 with a win on Saturday. NAU is off until next Saturday when it will play at Sacramento State at 1 p.m.