Volleyball Hosts Quality Field for Fiesta Bowl Tournament
Fiesta Bowl Tournament Information:
Opponent: San Diego State (Friday, Sept. 6/7:00 p.m.)
Opponent: Idaho (Saturday, Sept. 7/10:00 a.m.)
Opponent: Cal State Northridge (Saturday, Sept. 7/7:00 p.m.)
Location: Flagstaff, Ariz.
Live Stats: www.nauathletics.com
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Northern Arizona volleyball team returns home to Flagstaff to host its annual Fiesta Bowl Tournament this weekend at the Rolle Activity Center. The Lumberjacks welcome a trio of high quality opponents for the 20th installment of the Fiesta Bowl Tournament in San Diego State, Idaho and Cal State Northridge. The three squads combine to feature two preseason conference Players of the Year and an honorable mention All-American and each team fared extremely well in their season-opening tournaments last week.
The Lumberjacks also had quite the weekend themselves in Williamsburg, Va. last week, taking home the title after a perfect 3-0 weekend. NAU did not drop a set and was spectacular both on the attack and on the defensive end. Sophomore Janae Vander Ploeg garnered Tribe Invitational MVP honors after leading the team to sweeps of Campbell, San Jose State and William & Mary and was joined on the all-tournament team by freshmen Jensen Barton and Addy Lofstedt.
Series History: All three of NAU's opponents will be making their second appearance at the Fiesta Bowl Tournament and two of them (Idaho and Cal State Northridge) are former Big Sky Conference foes. The Lumberjacks will be looking to snap skids against all three opponents starting with San Diego State, whom they have never defeated in three all-time meetings. The two schools last met in 1999 when the Lumberjacks dropped a five-setter in San Diego, Calif. NAU will be meeting Idaho for the first time since the Vandals swept them in 2003 in Moscow, Idaho. The Lumberjacks still own the all-time advantage at 11-9. They also hold a narrow 10-9 all-time lead over Cal State Northridge but the Matadors have won the last three meetings, most recently a 3-2 win as part of the Boise State Bronco Invitational in 2009.
TV Coverage: This Saturday's matches against Idaho and Cal State Northridge will be the first of six volleyball matches televised by NAU-TV this year and distributed to the Fox Sports family of networks. The Idaho match will be shown on tape delay on Fox Sports Arizona on Sept. 10 at 1:30 p.m. and later that day on Fox College Sports Pacific at 3 p.m. The Cal State Northridge match will be shown on tape delay on Sept. 12 on both Fox Sports Arizona and Fox College Sports Pacific at 1:30 p.m. Both matches will be shown live locally in Flagstaff on Suddenlink cable Channel 4 and online on the NAU-TV live web stream.
Coach Ken Murphy Quote for the Week: "The first weekend was good for us because we got really good within our system and what we've been working on in practice. We're definitely establishing an identity for ourselves with our style of play and it'll be a test this weekend against some really skilled and physical teams. These teams are senior-heavy and have had a lot of success so it'll be a great learning experience to test ourselves against this level of competition."
About San Diego State (2-1): San Diego State wrapped up the LSU Tiger Classic last week in Baton Rouge, La. with a 2-1 record, coming up just short in its tournament finale in five sets to host LSU. The Aztecs brought back five starters from their 23-8 team that tied for the Mountain West championship in league play in 2012. Prior to the season, San Diego State received votes in the preseason AVCA Poll for the third consecutive year and later defeated UC Davis and Texas-San Antonio at its season-opening tournament before its five-set loss to LSU.
The Aztecs are led by Preseason Mountain West Player of the Year, senior Johnna Fouch, who was one of three players named to the all-tournament team last week. Fouch averaged 11.21 assists and hit .409 with 11 kills. Seniors Summer Nash (3.83 kills per set) and Raegan Shelton (3.23 kills per set) also represented the Aztecs on the all-tournament team and are No. 1 and 2 on the team in kills respectively after a week's play.
About Idaho (3-1): Idaho is coming off a 3-1 weekend at the UniWyo Wyoming Invitational in Laramie, Wyo. last week, with its only loss coming in five sets to host Wyoming. The Vandals return just two starters from their team in 2012 that went 17-14 in the WAC. Idaho earned wins against fellow Big Sky foe Montana State, Drake and Stetson last week while dropping just two combined sets between those three matches.
Alyssa Schultz enters her junior season as the Preseason WAC Player of the Year after earning first-team honors last season. Schultz entered the year as the school's all-time leader in hitting percentage (.325) and was named to the all-tournament team last week after averaging 3.38 kills and 1.50 blocks all while hitting .437 in four matches. She was joined on the all-tournament team by sophomore Meredith Coba, who averaged 10.94 assists per set.
About Cal State Northridge (3-0): Cal State Northridge returns an experienced team in 2013 with 11 returning letterwinners and six starters from its 21-10 team last year and that experience was on display last weekend. The Matadors went 3-0 and won the Bulldog Invitational in Fresno, Calif., defeating Santa Clara, Rice and host Fresno State. In their wins over Rice and Fresno State, the Matadors rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win both matches in five sets. After its tournament crown, Cal State Northridge received six points in this week's AVCA Coaches Poll.
Junior Natalie Allen was named tournament MVP after recording 49 kills (3.77 per set) while hitting .320 during the tournament. Allen led four players who averaged at least two kills per set as senior Sydney Gedryn, a two-time All-Big West First Team seletion, handed out 10.69 assists per set. Junior Casey Hinger, an AVCA Honorable Mention All-American last year, leads the team with 17 blocks (1.31 per set) after leading the Big West with 1.34 blocks per set in 2012.
The Fiesta is Back!: The Fiesta Bowl Tournament returns following a one-year hiatus for the 20th time in school history. The Lumberjacks will welcome San Diego State, Idaho and Cal State Northridge to Flagstaff's 7,000 feet elevation this weekend. Throughout the tournament's history, NAU has dominated its competition winning 12 team titles, including four of the last five, and compiling an overall record of 46-12 (.750).
NAU won the last Fiesta Bowl Tournament in 2011, sweeping San Jose State and Hampton before defeating New Mexico in five sets. The three participants this year are all making their second appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. San Diego State claimed the title in 1993, while Cal State Northridge appeared the following year and Idaho participated in 2002.
For the full history of the Fiesta Bowl Tournament, click here.
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