Volleyball debuts at home with win over Sacramento State
By Alli Jenney
After 11 matches on the road, Northern Arizona University’s (NAU) women’s volleyball team hosted the University of California-Sacramento Hornets in its’ first home game of the season. A momentum volley–filled contest, NAU defeated Sac State in four sets (25–21, 25–17, 18–25, 25–15.)
NAU improved their overall record to 10–2, 2–1 in Big Sky Conference (BSC), while Sacramento State fell 5–7, 1–2 BSC, for the season.
Freshman middle blocker Payton Bock outperformed herself with each proceeding set in her home debut, as she accumulated a career–high 12 kills and assisted on eight blocks through the match.
“I was nervous at first since it was our first home game, but at the end, I felt like I got into it pretty well,” Bock said.
Fellow middle blocker, sophomore Sydney Kemper, found her groove as well in the later sets to finish the night with nine kills and six blocking assists of her own. Senior outside hitter Kelli Dallmann also felt at ease being back at the Rolle Activity Center, marking her sixth double–double of the season with 17 kills and 11 digs.
“It was awesome playing in front of our fans; it’s the best,” Dallmann said. “I was very happy with the turn out.”
With strong serving on both sides, the back rows of both the Lumberjacks and the Hornets struggled in service reception, allowing for service runs to lead the momentum of each set. The Hornets led the match with eight service aces, while the Lumberjacks finished with five. However, when the serving got going, the Lumberjackspicked up their defense and offense during rallies to hold the serve.
“We’re usually pretty good at siding out, but there were a couple of times where we struggled with that,” Dallmann said. “But we got past it and then we got runs, so it worked out.”
Aside from the serving strengths of each team, both teams looked to their pin hitters in order to create offense. The Hornets relied heavily on their outside attackers, and the Lumberjacks head coach Craig Choate looked to his players not only to counter their hitters, but to provide offense on the right side themselves. Senior outside hitters Jen Wilson and Lexi Sullivan, as well as sophomore middle blocker Taylor Stephens, all made appearances on the right side as opposite hitter through the match.
“That’s us trying to figure out what we want to do there,” Choate said. “In game four, bringing Jen [Wilson] back I just thought, Jen’s going to go block some balls, and she went out a blocked a whole bunch of balls.”
Wilson proved to be a dominant force defensively in the final set, with two solo blocks and two blocking assists, adding to her one blocking assist from game two. These blocks would help the Lumberjacks surpass the Hornets in the blocking aspect of the game, despite the Hornets coming in ranked as No. 4 in NCAA Division–I, in blocks per set.
The Lumberjacks will return home on Oct. 4 to host Montana State after hitting the road, yet again, for three more matches away from Flagstaff.
The squad will get back out to the court to face Southern Utah University, Monday Sept. 24 at 6 p.m., followed by a match up against Portland State Unievrsity on Thursday, Sept. 27 and then Eastern Washington University on Friday, Sept. 28.
“We just need to take it one point at a time, and one airplane ride at a time,” Dallmann said. “It’s going to be crazy.”