Northern Arizona Tops Idaho State 3-1 to Even Season Series

  0 volleymob | October 20th, 2018 | College - Women's Indoor, Division I Mid-Major, News

Courtesy: Northern Arizona Athletics

POCATELLO, Idaho – On their home court exactly a month ago, an injury-riddled Northern Arizona volleyball team fell in five sets to Idaho State. Saturday night, the Lumberjacks showed that at full health that they are a team to be reckoned with in a 25-11, 25-19, 21-25, 25-11 victory over the Bengals in Reed Gym to complete a perfect weekend road trip.

“We have a lot of respect for Idaho State and how good their offense is,” said head coach Ken Murphy. “We knew were going to have to lock in on defense and our team responded to that challenge from the first point. We played great defense, blocked well, and had good service pressure. We lost control of our side in the third set, but it was great to see how we bounced back in the fourth set.”

NAU, now 15-8 overall and 7-3 in conference, has won five of its last six since splitting its first four league matches. The Lumberjacks are currently tied for third, one game behind Idaho and Sacramento State with the latter being NAU’s next opponent on the slate.

Junior Abby Akin, who missed the first matchup with Idaho State, could not be contained as she posted a team-high 15 kills on .520 hitting. Akin also recorded eight blocks, which elevated her into NAU’s all-time blocks list. Her career total sits at 330 at the end of the night, placing her ninth in program history.

The rotation including freshman Aubrea Bandfield and sophomore Heaven Harris was also particularly effective as Bandfield tallied a team-best 25 assists. She connected with Harris repeatedly as Harris was close behind Akin’s total with 13 kills on .522 hitting.

NAU never trailed in the opening game as redshirt senior Kaylie Jorgenson helped serve a 7-0 Lumberjack run that snapped a 3-3 tie. She contributed a pair of aces and pressured the Bengals into three attack errors during the run as NAU never looked back in cruising to a first set win.

Akin led the charge in the second set, notching six of her 15 kills, and Jorgenson and freshman Ryann Davis both chipped in four apiece to pace a Lumberjack attack that totaled 20 kills to take a 2-0 match lead. The trio accounted for all of the points during a five-point NAU surge that allowed the ‘Jacks to double up the Bengals, 16-8. Overall, the Lumberjacks hit .471 – their best percentage of the evening – to win set two.

The ‘Jacks appeared to be on their way to another sweep before the Bengals roared back with 11 unanswered points to close the third set. NAU led throughout and Akin had the Lumberjacks just four points away from a sweep when her kill made the score 21-14. However, the Bengals showed their mettle to deny the ‘Jacks of what would have been their second straight sweep in Pocatello.

Idaho State’s 11-0 run extended the match, but NAU would put away the Bengals with ease in the fourth game. Three straight kills by Harris fueled an 8-0 Lumberjack run and junior Sydney Lema contributed two blocks as NAU led 16-5 by the end of senior Jordan Anderson’s service. Redshirt senior Brittni Dorsey clinched the match with a solo block and a kill on NAU’s last two points.

NAU hit .301 in the win and used 13.0 team blocks to limit Idaho State to only a .092 attack clip. The Lumberjacks had three players finish with double-figure digs led by 16 each from Jorgenson and Anderson. With Anderson’s efforts in the win, she jumped former NAU All-American Janae Vander Ploeg for fourth in program history in career digs (1,236).

Jorgenson notched her 15th double-double adding 10 kills to her 16 digs. She was also responsible for three of the Lumberjacks’ eight aces.

“This was definitely our best weekend so far and we’re only getting better,” Murphy said. “We were really consistent this weekend and aware of where our strengths are. Abby Akin and Heaven in particular elevated their game to a new place for us and did some things that made them hard to defend. But really, our whole team did a good job of that.”

NAU hosts Sacramento State, the Big Sky’s co-leader, on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Rolle Activity Center to kick off Homecoming Weekend. The Lumberjacks will then host Portland State on Homecoming Saturday at 12 p.m.

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