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November 5, 2013

Volleyball Faces Quick Turnaround to the Pacific Northwest

Match Information:

Opponent: Eastern Washington (Thursday, Nov. 7/7:00 p.m.)

Location: Cheney, Wash.

Live Stats: www.goeags.com

Opponent: Portland State (Saturday, Nov. 9/8:00 p.m.)

Location: Portland, Ore.

Live Stats: www.goviks.com

Video: www.WatchBigSky.com

GAME NOTES (PDF)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Northern Arizona volleyball team continues its three-match road trip this week hoping to bounce back from a tough five-set loss at Southern Utah on Monday. The loss snapped the Lumberjacks' four-match win streak and dropped them into third place in the conference standings with three weeks remaining in the regular season. NAU takes on Eastern Washington on Thursday and Portland State on Saturday, two teams in which it swept at home last month.

The Lumberjacks struggled to find a consistent rhythm against the Thunderbirds Monday night in what was a defensive showcase by both teams. NAU tallied a season-high 96 digs as a team led by sophomore Trianna Henry's career-high 34. Four Lumberjacks recorded double-doubles - a season-high for the team in a single match - in the defeat. Sophomore Janae Vander Ploeg notched her fourth of the season (10th of her career) with 15 kills and a career-high 17 digs, while junior Sydney Kemper posted her third of the season with 17 kills and 10 digs. Sophomore Payton Bock recorded her first (second of her career) with 11 kills and a career-high tying 10 blocks and junior Erin Truett picked up her first career double-double with 47 assists and a career-best 16 digs.

Last Time Out: The Lumberjacks earned a three-set victory over Portland State on Oct. 3 at home in a match that was closely contested throughout. Each of the three sets were decided by three points or less as neither team hit higher than .200. NAU was led by junior Sydney Kemper who recorded a match-best 14 kills while hitting .393 for the match in addition to 11 digs for her second double-double of the season. The Lumberjacks' 13.0 team blocks was pivotal in holding the Vikings to an .091 hitting percentage and Kemper and junior Taylor Stephens both tallied seven blocks each.

NAU then swept Eastern Washington two nights later and continued its defensive dominance in forcing the Eagles to hit -.010 for the match. The Lumberjacks were led on the block by Stephens' eight and offensively, four players recorded between six and nine kills in a balance effort. NAU hit .284 for the match and did not allow Eastern Washington to hit higher than .100 in any of the three sets. Kemper's nine kills was the high for any player that night as both her and Stephens hit upwards of .500. 

Coach Ken Murphy Quote for the Week: "They're both really tough teams and when you factor in that they both have good home court advantages, I think our team is aware that they have two significant challenges ahead of them. Our team is motivated to get better and learn from all of their experiences. Last night is going to sting a little bit and it will be motivation for us. So far our team has responded to these things really well and I anticipate us continuing to do that."

About Eastern Washington (8-17, 5-9 BSC): Eastern Washington is currently on the outside looking in for a berth in the conference tournament as it is three games behind a spot in the top-six. The Eagles are 5-9 in Big Sky play and tied with Northern Colorado for seventh in the conference after recently breaking their four-match losing skid with a four-set victory at Montana State last Saturday.

Junior Talia Fermantez led the Eagles with six kills in Eastern Washington's loss to NAU earlier this season and was one of three players with at least five kills. Sophomore Allison Doerpinghaus, the Big Sky's seventh leading blocker, totaled a team-best two blocks in the first matchup between the two teams while senior Lindsay Niemeier handed out 21 assists.

About Portland State (14-10, 11-3 BSC): Portland State has won five of its last five matches after sweeping both Montana State and Montana last week on the road. The Vikings are currently a game ahead of the Lumberjacks in the conference standings with an 11-3 record and has gone 7-2 in their last nine matches since falling to NAU last month. Portland State has won its last six home matches dating back to Sept. 7.

The Vikings were paced by senior Aubrey Mitchell when they first faced off against the Lumberjacks as Mitchell totaled a team-high 13 kills. Mitchell hit .276 for the match and was only bettered by junior Leigh-Ann Haataja, who hit .312 with seven kills and four blocks. Haataja ranks seventh in the conference in hitting percentage and fourth in blocks. Senior Garyn Schlatter, fourth in the Big Sky in assists, recorded a double-double with 30 assists and 10 digs.

Murphy's Milestone: After the Lumberjacks' sweep of Sacramento State last Saturday, head coach Ken Murphy is now two wins shy of notching career victory number 100.

Seeing Double: NAU had registered just five double-doubles by two players leading up to its match at Southern Utah on Monday prior to four players doubling up in the five-set defeat.

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