NAU volleyball adds the Fiesta Bowl Volleyball Tournament trophy to their season
Lumberjacks volleyball remains undefeated with a thrilling championship match at the Fiesta Bowl Volleyball Tournament against the Lobos from the University of New Mexico (UNM), winning their second tournament in as many weeks in the Rolle Activity Center on Sept. 3.
The championship match of the 2011 Fiesta Bowl Volleyball Tournament consisted of the Lumberjacks (6–0) battling the Lobos (4–2) in a five set match, which included eight lead changes and 22 tie scores, which had NAU fans yelling and screaming every time the Jacks had a kill or a big block.
“It feels great to win the Fiesta Bowl, especially after such a hard game tonight,” said senior outside hitter Kobi Christensen.
Christensen, who ended the match with 23 kills, was named the tournament MVP. Freshman middle blocker Sydney Kemper scored 10 kills and tallied seven block assists, while junior setter Kelli Dallmann accumulated 52 assists. Both were named to the all-tournament team.
“It’s a real honor [being named to the all-tournament team],” Kemper said. “We just came out and played as a team. I’m really happy.”
The Lumberjacks began the first set of the match with a 25–17 win. The Jacks accumulated 16 kills through the first set, with Christensen leading the way with six kills, followed by junior
outside hitter Lexi Sullivan’s four. Dallmann led the Jacks with 13 assists throughout the opening set.
The second set was more competitive than the first set, with NAU edging the Lobos 27–25. UNM held a slight lead during the back-and-forth action, using a frantic pace to throw the
Lumberjacks off their game. The Jacks were able to recover from the deficit during the latter part of the set, defeating UNM 27–25 and causing the crowd to go wild after being down by as many as seven points.
NAU went into the third set looking to earn a straight-sweep victory over the Lobos, but UNM had other ideas. The action was close throughout the set, with the Lobos staying just a few
points ahead of the Lumberjacks. When the score was 13–15, UNM began to find their footing and jumped ahead of the Jacks, winning the set 17–25.
Senior middle blocker Katie Bailey began the fourth game by scoring the first point of the set. Even with the first point, the Jacks could not get their momentum going and UNM was able to take control. NAU was able to find their footing halfway through the set, and were within one point of the Lobos before falling 22–25 in the fourth.
With the tournament championship on the line, both teams battled back-and-forth for each point, with no clear-cut favorite. The Lumberjacks were able to gain a slight lead after UNM called a timeout, scoring the final two points and blocking all of the Lobos’ hits, ending the match 15–13 after an intense set that had the stands standing and cheering for the Lumberjacks.
“The crowd helps us 100 percent,” Christensen said. “We play so much better when we’re excited and we’re pumped up and [the crowd] cheers every point. Having the crowd
behind us just really helps.”
Before the Jacks made it to the championship game, they played the Lady Pirates from Hampton University. NAU used better movement and shot placement throughout the straight set victory (25–10, 25–20, 25–16) to continue their undefeated streak. Hampton did make the second set close, losing by five, while the Lumberjacks played a little sloppy, but NAU turned it back on in the third and final set to earn the victory.
“We do everything well,” said coach Craig Choate. “We have developed an absolute defensive will to never let the ball drop, and that was what made the difference tonight.”