Opponent: Weber State (Thursday, Oct. 24/6:00 p.m.)
Location: Ogden, Utah
Live Stats: www.weberstatesports.com
Opponent: Idaho State (Saturday, Oct. 26/6:00 p.m.)
Location: Pocatello, Idaho
Live Stats: www.isubengals.com
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Coming off a huge sweep of previously unbeaten North Dakota, the Northern Arizona volleyball team hopes to ride that wave of momentum into the second half of conference play beginning this week. The Lumberjacks are once again out on the road, where they will spend seven of their final 10 matches of the regular season, beginning with Weber State on Thursday followed up by Idaho State on Saturday.
NAU responded from a tough five-set loss to Northern Colorado at home last Thursday by snapping UND's 9-0 start to the Big Sky season with a three-set sweep two nights later. The Lumberjacks hit .299 in the match and held UND to a .160 clip despite entering the match hitting a conference-best .261. NAU trailed just once the entire match in finishing the first round of Big Sky matches with a 7-3 mark in conference, good for a tie of third-place currently.
Last Time Out: NAU defeated both Weber State and Idaho State earlier this season at home to begin conference play. The Lumberjacks began the Big Sky portion of the schedule with a thrilling five-set win over Idaho State on Sept. 19 in a match that featured 46 ties. The teams traded set victories with NAU ultimately prevailing in the fifth set, 20-18. NAU was led by the trio of freshman Addy Lofstedt, sophomore Janae Vander Ploeg and junior Taylor Stephens. Lofstedt recorded a career-high 15 kills, while Vander Ploeg and Stephens both added 14. Junior Sydney Kemper nearly missed a triple-double with nine kills and nine blocks in addition to 10 digs.
The Lumberjacks then swept Weber State on Sept. 21 to improve to 2-0 in conference. Four players hit better than .300 led by sophomore Payton Bock's season-best .500 hitting percentage as NAU hit .333 for the match as a team. The Lumberjacks held the Wildcats to a .000 hitting percentage behind a 12.0-3.0 block advantage. Vander Ploeg and Kemper both notched match-high 10 kills and Lofstedt tallied a career-high five blocks.
Coach Ken Murphy Quote for the Week: "The way we play our systems, particularly we block and play defense, has improved a lot the last two or three weeks. Now it's about adding some small things the second half of conference because we know teams are going to defend us differently. In terms of our skill and system progression, I think we're further along with where I thought we'd be at this point of the season."
About Weber State (5-19, 1-9 BSC): Weber State has lost six consecutive matches since edging out Northern Colorado on Sept. 28 for its only Big Sky win to date. The Wildcats were swept by Eastern Washington and Portland State last weekend on the road and are 1-9 in conference play heading into the weekend.
Sophomores Mariah Kahawaii and Audrey Hunter and freshman Ciera Borho led the Wildcats with five kills apiece in the teams' first match this season. Hunter posted a team-high three blocks and junior McKay Tarbox had a team-high seven digs in the loss. Junior Aubrey Biggs leads the team for the season with 2.62 kills per set while Tarbox is fifth in digs in the Big Sky at 4.14 per set.
About Idaho State (13-8, 7-3 BSC): Idaho State wrapped up the first half of conference play with an identical 7-3 Big Sky mark as the Lumberjacks, good for a tie of third. After starting out conference play 2-2, the Bengals have won five of their last six with their only loss in the last three weeks coming at Portland State last Thursday in four sets.
Four Bengals recorded at least 11 kills in ISU's loss to the Lumberjacks last month led by sophomore Tressa Lyman's 19. Lyman is currently second in the Big Sky with 3.65 kills per set and is also second in points. Senior Lori Mendenhall-Lee, the conference's leader in assists, picked up a double-double with 56 assists and 13 digs as did Lyman (19 kills, 16 digs). Sophomore Mackenzie Filer is second in the conference in hitting percentage (.378) and tied for sixth in blocks (1.11 per set) and led the Bengals with nine blocks against NAU.
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