FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona volleyball team successfully defended their home court to complete a perfect 4-0 homestand – and tie Minnesota for the longest active home win streak in the country at 25 matches – with a 25-22, 25-14, 25-19 straight set victory over Montana on Saturday. The 'Jacks (19-4, 9-1 Big Sky) were led by their outside hitting duo of senior Lauren Jacobsen and redshirt sophomore Kaylie Jorgenson, who sliced and diced the Grizzlies, in claiming their fifth straight win overall.
"We talked about being a little more consistent than Thursday in our intensity and execution," said head coach Ken Murphy. "We did a really good job of coming into today's match with that focus and maintaining it throughout the entire match. We know that's a huge area of growth of us and I'm proud of them for coming out and executing that today."
Behind the exploits of Jacobsen – 13 kills on .448 hitting – and Jorgenson – 11 kills on .306 hitting – the Lumberjacks ripped off a .342 match clip for their most efficient offensive performance in three weeks. Senior Jensen Barton recorded 32 assists in running the NAU offense at a high level with the 'Jacks committing just six errors compared to 25 by the Grizzlies.
With the aid of four Montana attack errors, NAU took a 5-0 lead in a blink of an eye to start the afternoon. The Grizzlies managed to knot up the first set at 11-11 and took a brief 13-12 lead before the Lumberjacks went on a 9-2 run to take a commanding 21-15 advantage. Montana responded with three straight points and managed to keep within striking distance, however Barton terminated the opening game with one of her six kills in the match.
Jacobsen and Jorgenson torched the Grizzlies particularly in the second set combining for 11 kills on 19 swings in the most lopsided game of the three on Saturday. The pair nearly doubled Montana's kill total as a team in the second set as the Grizzlies totaled just six kills in falling behind 2-0 in the match. Back-to-back kills by senior Addy Lofstedt capped an opening 9-4 Lumberjack start and NAU sailed smoothly from there hitting .375 going into intermission.
Montana responded out of the break and looked determined to not go down in three forcing seven ties in the first 24 points of the third game. Consecutive errors though allowed NAU to snap a 12-12 tie and set in motion an 11-2 run that ultimately proved to be decisive. Although Montana scored five of the next six points, its deficit was too much to overcome as freshman Abby Akin's swing found the back corner on match point. Akin, like Jacobsen and Jorgenson, did not commit a single error in the entire match and finished with five kills on .625 hitting.
"We refocused as a team and controlled our side (of the net)," Jacobsen said. "We were organized and that allowed our hitters to do a better job of attacking the ball. Jensen is a very athletic setter who can get us up-tempo sets in system."
NAU kept Montana at bay with the Grizzlies only mustering a .105 hitting percentage of the match. While NAU only accumulated 6.0 team blocks, with redshirt sophomore Brittni Dorsey and Barton recording three each, the Lumberjacks continually forced the Grizzlies into errors out of system with tough serving. Redshirt freshman Hannah Cherry notched two of NAU's four aces.
Jacobsen moved into a tie for 10th all-time in school history with her 17th double-double of the season. Recording a team-high 15 digs on Saturday, Jacobsen notched her 35th career double-double to tie Claire Robertson. Barton also picked up her 12th double-double of the season with 11 digs to go along with her assist total.
The Lumberjacks will spend the next two weeks on the road with four divisional matchups ahead. NAU will travel to Sacramento State next Thursday to start the week, followed with a trip north to Portland State on Saturday.