GREELEY, Colo. – NAU freshman middle blocker Payton Bock was named Big Sky Outstanding Freshman and earned All-Big Sky First Team honors as four Lumberjacks were recognized on the all-conference teams. Senior libero Anna Gott, sophomore middle blocker Sydney Kemper, and freshman outside hitter Janae Vander Ploeg all earned Big Sky Honorable Mention as NAU placed four players on the All-Big Sky teams for the first time since 2002.
Bock becomes the third member of the 2012 Lumberjacks to have been named Outstanding Freshman after Lexi Sullivan in 2008 and Kelli Dallmann in 2009. She is the seventh Lumberjack all-time to earn the award and is the first NAU player to be named to the All-Big Sky First Team since Brittany Stowers in 2008.
"I'm honored to receive this award and I'm proud of how far we have come this season," Bock said. "It's an honor and I'm really proud of everybody on the team."
During the regular season Bock led the team and ranked fourth in the Big Sky with 1.24 blocks per set and was sixth in the conference with a .307 hitting percentage while contributing 2.32 kills per set. Bock was especially impressive in conference play in hitting .331 with 2.58 kills and 1.34 blocks per set to rank second on the team with 258.5 points. She hit .250 or better in 14 Big Sky matches and overall this season has totaled 16 matches with five or more blocks and nine matches with 10 or more kills, including a 10 kill, 10 block double-double vs. Idaho State.
Gott earned Big Sky Honorable Mention for the second consecutive year as she shattered NAU's career digs record this season. She enters the Big Sky Championship third in Big Sky history with 1,849 career digs after breaking NAU's career digs record on Sept. 27th. She ranks second in the Big Sky with 4.95 digs per set this season while averaging 5.10 digs per set in conference play.
Kemper also earned a second consecutive Big Sky Honorable Mention award after ranking third in the conference with a .341 season hitting percentage while averaging 2.40 kills and 0.99 blocks per set. She hit better than .380 in 13 matches this season with 11 matches at .400 or better to rank fourth on the team with 330.5 total points. Kemper totaled 10 matches with five or more blocks and seven with 10 or more kills.
NAU's regular season leader in kills and points, Vander Ploeg has had a tremendous rookie campaign in averaging 3.15 kills, 2.14 digs, and 0.59 blocks per set with a team-high 404.0 total points. She has recorded double-digit kills in 20 matches this season to rank ninth in the Big Sky in kills per set while also adding nine double-digit dig efforts and six double-doubles. Over the last eight matches of the regular season Vander Ploeg averaged 3.58 kills per set while hitting .251 and adding 70 digs and 16 blocks to lead NAU to a third place regular season finish.
The Lumberjacks open play in the Big Sky Championship in the quarterfinal round at 9 a.m. Friday vs Montana State.