The Northern Arizona volleyball team prevailed early and broke away late in their second match of the day, picking up their fifth straight win to begin the season. The Lumberjacks earned a four-set victory, 25-21, 25-27, 25-12, 25-19, over Lamar to move to 2-0 at the UTPA Tournament heading into their tournament finale today.
Against Lamar, the third set was crucial in breaking open an extremely close match. Tied at 3-3, the Lumberjacks rolled off nine straight points, and 13 of 14 in all, to take the first commanding lead.
“(The third set) was good because we got back into our own flow,” said head coach Ken Murphy. “We played much better defense and that’s where we get our energy. It was good to see us turn it on in that set and carry that momentum into the last set.”
NAU snapped a 6-6 tie in the fourth set with five of the next six points, capped by freshman Kayla Guerrero’s first career ace in her collegiate debut. That gave the Lumberjacks a four-point cushion they maintained the rest of the way.
Down as many as five points, the Lady Cardinals closed the score to 22-19, but consecutive block assists by sophomore Isabelle Gosar, first with sophomore Lauren Jacobsen and then with sophomore Jensen Barton, secured the NAU win.
NAU, who defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi earlier on Friday in four sets, aims to complete a second consecutive perfect weekend today versus tournament host Texas-Pan American. First serve will be around noon.
The Northern Arizona women’s golf team kicks off its fall schedule early next week with the Hobble Creek Fall Classic co-hosted by Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University on Monday and Teusday in Springville, Utah.
The Lumberjacks will play 54 holes over the two-day tournament, starting with 36 on Monday and finishing with 18 on Tuesday at Hobble Creek Golf Course. Play begins at 7:30 a.m. each day.
NAU starts the season without last year’s top golfer, Kaitlin Parsons, who finished her senior season tied for sixth in the conference and as an All-Big Sky honoree. Looking to step up are Jacquie LeMarr, who led the Lumberjacks at two tournaments after transferring last spring and was named All-Big Sky second-team, and Susana Mejia, who followed Parsons at the Big Sky Championships with a season-best 231 and 15th-place finish. The team also returns Jojo Sottile and Brittany McKee from the team that finished fifth at the Big Sky Championship last spring.
Adding to the Lumberjacks’ depth are three freshmen, Carly Akine, Kaitlyn Saum and Sierra Bezdicek, sister to NAU’s Savana Bezdicek. All three garnered all-state honors in high school; Akine and Saum both competed on a national level before coming to NAU.
“With the three freshmen coming in, it is going to be very competitive,” said head coach Brad Bedortha. “The returners are really going to have to step up their game. At the end of the day, as a coach, you want that competition because that helps everyone get better.”
At Hobble Creek, the Lumberjacks get an early shot at Big Sky opponents Idaho State, Southern Utah, Montana, Montana State and Weber State as well as taking on in-state rival Grand Canyon. In addition to co-hosts Utah Valley and BYU, Santa Clara and Bakersfield are also competing.
“I am very excited to take our team to the Hobble Creek Fall Classic,” Bedortha said. “It is always exciting getting back into competition and seeing how the team does. We are taking eight players, so it is nice getting some extra players some competition.”