Volleyball drops weekend home matches, drops in conference standings
By Naomi Thalenberg and Sean Tracy
Riding a two-match win streak, NAU volleyball went into their weekend home stand looking to extend the streak to four games. That would not be the case, as the Eastern Washington University (EWU) Eagles and the Portland State University (PSU) Vikings spoiled the Lumberjacks’ plans, defeating the Jacks in Jay Lively Arena 3–2 and 3–1 respectively.
As Portland State came to Flagstaff, the Jacks looked to take revenge on the Vikings, who ended their 12-game win streak earlier this season.
In the first set, NAU jumped ahead early and by a set score of 25–23. The opening frame, highlighted by four kills from junior outside hitters Lexi Sullivan and Lauren Campbell, helped the Jacks hit a .200 average. Momentum seemed to be on NAU’s side after the first set when the Lumberjacks went on an 18–8 run. The Vikings followed that up with their own 13–2 scoring run, which included 12 consecutive points and five Lumberjack errors, giving PSU the 25–21 set win.
“I think we lost focus,” said junior libero Anna Gott. “[The Vikings server] got a couple points on us and we couldn’t get it back”
The third and fourth sets, 25–23 and 25–20, respectively, included six lead changes and 16 ties. NAU was unable to capture either set, surrendering another conference loss to PSU.
“This is a match that we had and completely gave away to a top ranked team in our conference”, said head coach Craig Choate. “It was our gym, I almost feel we won three out of the four games and we walked out of here a loser.”
The Jacks opened their weekend against the Eagles and dropped their first five-set match of the season.
NAU knew they had to play hard to get to 15 points before the Eagles during the fifth frame, but to their dismay, they lost the set 15–10.
“Game 5 is a total crapshoot,” Choate said. “Whoever gets ahead first usually ends up taking it. We’re not a big dominant team, we are [a] grind it out kind of team and I thought we were just a half a step slow for the first part of the match — and that hurt us.”
Eastern Washington took the lead, winning the first two sets 25–22 and 25–23. The Lumberjacks claimed the next two sets 27–25 and 25–22.
The Jacks were most aggressive during the third stanza, outhitting the Eagles 18–13 and posting a .262 hitting percentage for the set.
“I thought we were behind in the first two games but that’s not a lack of effort,” Choate said. “Sometimes it’s just for whatever reason not there [but] these guys played hard — I think their records show that they are playing hard.”
Junior setter Kelli Dallmann tallied 45 assists, 12 digs and 4 blocks with a hitting average percentage of .571.
“We played well all around,” Dallmann said. “It’s just a few points here and there [that] hurt us. We need to start working on our intensity and play hard throughout the whole game.”
Gott and Campbell led the Jacks on the defense and offense. Gott notched 21 digs, while Campbell lead the team with 17 kills and a .262 hitting average percentage.
“There’s nothing major broken,” Choate said. “Last Saturday all three outsides lit the place up, tonight they didn’t light it up and it goes five? — it’s the nature of the beast.”
The Jacks averaged a .135 hitting percentage during the fifth set, while the Eagles were only a few digits away with a hitting average percentage of .167 and 66 kills total.
“We played well but it was just one of those things where they got ahead of us,” said senior middle blocker Katie Bailey, who had a total of eight kills and a hitting average percentage of .037. “We couldn’t quite get back but we played decently well for the outcome.”