NORTHERN ARIZONA REMAINS UNDEFEATED, DEFEATS VOLLEYBALL IN FIVE SETS
Kayla Beal posted career highs in both kills (21) and hitting percentage (.567) in tonight's match
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Northern Arizona hit .291 as a team and Lexi Sullivan led all players with 22 kills to lead the Lumberjacks to a 3-2 victory (25-18, 15-25, 25-18, 20-25, 15-7) over Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Thursday evening at Colberg Court.
The match marked the Big Sky opener for Sacramento State as the Hornets fell to 5-9 overall and 0-1 in the conference. Northern Arizona, which is off to its best start in school history, improved to 12-0 overall and 3-0 in the conference.
The Hornets lost their sixth straight match, which matches the program’s third longest losing streak in school history (the 1977 team also dropped six in a row). However, of the team’s six opponents during the streak, each has a record above .500, including the nation’s top ranked team (Cal) and two others receiving votes in the top 25 (Saint Mary’s and UC Davis).
Northern Arizona had been 0-17 all-time when playing the Hornets in Sacramento, a drought which dated back to 1996.
The .291 hitting percentage by the Lumberjacks matched the second highest mark by a Hornet opponent this year. In 179 attacks, NAU had just 15 errors and 67 kills. Two Lumberjack starters hit better than .430, including Lauren Campbell (13 kills, .448 hitting percentage) and Sydney Kemper (13 kills, .435).
Northern Arizona held a slim margin in total kills over the Hornets (67-65), while also posting a better hitting percentage (.291-.232) and more team blocks (11.0-7.0). The Lumberjacks won the first, third and fifth sets with relative ease, and the Hornets won the second and fourth frames handily.
For Sacramento State, sophomore rightside hitter Kayla Beal could not be stopped, posting career highs in kills (21) and hitting percentage (.567). The Dixon, Calif., native had just four errors in 30 attacks, and often times, was the best player on the floor. She accounted for over 32 percent of the team’s kills and 22 of the Hornets’ total of 76 points.
Beal was joined in double-figure kills by outside hitters Eryn Kirby (11 kills, 15 digs) and middle blocker Kelsey Elston (10 kills, .286 hitting percentage and a match-best three aces). Middle blocker Maddison Thivierge added nine kills and a season-best .529 hitting percentage as she finished without an error in 17 attacks. Joining Kirby with double figures in digs for the Hornets were Breanne Menees (20), Sydney Kordic (season-high tying 17) and Janelle Currey (14). Thivierge led all Hornets with four blocks and Hannah Hettinga posted a season-best 32 assists.
For NAU, Sullivan came up large in the fifth set as she accounted for five kills in five attempts. Katie Bailey finished the match with seven blocks and Anna Gott led all players with 24 digs.
Sacramento State returns to action Saturday afternoon when the team hosts Northern Colorado at 1 p.m. The match is part of a doubleheader on campus that will see the Hornet football team host Montana that evening at 6 p.m.