WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – The Northern Arizona volleyball utilized a highly efficient offensive attack to sweep Campbell in the opening match of the Tribe Invitational, 25-19, 25-12, 25-22, Friday afternoon. The Lumberjacks hit .390 for the match and did not hit lower than .323 in any of the three sets as they won their season opener for the third consecutive season and seventh overall in the last eight years.
"There were parts where we were a little jittery but once we got into rhythm, our offense was really outstanding," said head coach Ken Murphy. "We were fast and really efficient and we got contributions from everyone on the court. When we controlled the ball well Jensen (Barton) had a lot of options and she did a good job of understanding the priorities in different situations."
Sophomore Janae Vander Ploeg started her second season on a tear from the get-go as she helped the Lumberjacks overcome an early 7-4 first set deficit and pull out the win in the opening stanza. Vander Ploeg totaled six of her match-high 13 kills in the first set and hit .500 in the process to lead NAU to the 1-0 lead.
The second set started similarly with both teams playing it close before NAU blew it open, pushing a 7-5 advantage out to 18-5 by rattling off 11 straight points. Six Campbell errors aided NAU's set-altering run, but freshman Addy Lofstedt put away three kills to lead the Lumberjacks' effort.
"We got really good service pressure and both Janae and Addy did a really good job of killing the ball in the middle of rallies," Murphy said of his team's second-set run. "We were digging good balls and getting good opportunities and we just made a ton of good volleyball plays during that stretch."
With distance between themselves and the Fighting Camels, the Lumberjacks easily pulled within one set of their season-opening sweep which they would finish off in the third set. In the final set, neither team led by more than two points until juniors Sydney Kemper and Taylor Stephens blocked Alexis Hein's final swing to end the match. The tightly contested set featured 13 ties, but the Lumberjacks' efficient attack proved to be the difference.
NAU committed just six errors on its 100 swings in the match compared to Campbell's 17 errors, which proved to be the big difference. The Lumberjacks had six players hit better than .300 for the match and they held the Fighting Camels to just a .150 percentage. Vander Ploeg's 13 kills paced six players with at least five kills and Lofstedt had a solid debut notching 10 kills – six coming in the second set. Barton also had an impressive first match with 33 assists while sophomore Trianna Henry posted a match-high 16 digs in her first career start at libero.
The Lumberjacks wrap up play at the Tribe Invitational with two matches on Saturday beginning with San Jose State at 9 a.m. PST. They will then play host William & Mary in the tournament finale at 4 p.m.