Photo by Jerry Johnson
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – After NAU took a 2-0 lead, Sacramento State rallied back to take the third and fourth sets and win the deciding fifth set 15-12 to score a 3-2 (20-25, 19-25, 25-18, 25-20, 15-12) win on Saturday in Sacramento. Several NAU players totaled career bests in the match as the Lumberjacks moved to 10-3 in the Big Sky and 18-4 overall and the Hornets improved to 5-9 in conference and 9-15 on the season.
Senior Anna Gott, the NAU all-time career digs leader, moved to fifth in Big Sky history in career digs with a career-high 35 digs in the match. Freshman Kalee Kirby had a career-high 60 assists to go with 17 digs while four Lumberjacks finished with double-digit kills with career best totals from freshmen Janae Vander Ploeg (21) and Payton Bock (17) on a .556 hitting percentage.
NAU outhit Sacramento State .262-.249, but after the Hornets hit below .120 in each of the first two sets, they hit .298 or better in each of the last three sets while NAU hit .195 in the fourth and .083 in the fifth. The Hornets posted a 14.0-10.0 advantage in blocks and had seven service aces to four by the Lumberjacks.
The Hornets started strong in taking a 12-8 lead and forcing an early NAU timeout. The Lumberjacks caught fire from there, using a 5-1 run to tie the set at 13-13 and, after Sacramento State went up 14-13, NAU went on a 7-0 spurt with six kills to pull ahead 20-14. Sacramento State got back within 23-19 but after a Lumberjacks timeout the visitors got kills from sophomore Sydney Kemper and Vander Ploeg to take the opening set 25-20.
Sacramento State opened the second set up 5-2 before NAU leveled the score at 5-5 and extended to a 12-7 lead. The Lumberjack lead would reach seven points at 16-9, but the Hornets chipped away to get as close as three points at 19-16. An NAU kill and two blocks gave the Lumberjacks a 22-16 cushion and the teams would trade points from there before another set-ending kill by Vander Ploeg gave NAU a 2-0 lead.
The third set began similarly to the first two as the Hornets took an early 12-8 lead. Unlike the prior two sets, however, NAU was unable to regain control as Sacramento State did not allow the Lumberjacks to score consecutive points en route to a 21-13 lead. The Hornets hit a match-best in the set to take a 25-18 win and force a fourth.
NAU again trailed early in the fourth set by a 6-2 margin but battled back to within a point at 13-12. The Hornets used a quick 4-0 spurt to gain a 17-12 advantage, but again the visitors fought back to within 18-16. The Lumberjacks trimmed their deficit to one point at 21-20, but the Hornets responded with four consecutive points to take the set 25-20.
In the deciding fifth set, Sacramento State jumped to a 4-1 lead but NAU would even the score the teams would remain in a stalemate to 12-12. The Hornets then got two kills and a block to complete the comeback and hand NAU just its fourth loss of the season.
NAU returns to Flagstaff to play three home matches over a six day span, first hosting Southern Utah at 7 p.m. Monday in Rolle Activity Center.