With the end of the first half of the conference schedule approaching, the Northern Arizona volleyball team has two of the top three teams in the conference on tap this week.
The Lumberjacks will face Portland State on Thursday at 8 p.m. and Sacramento State on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the first of consecutive weeks away from home.
NAU fell to 2-4 in the Big Sky with losses to Eastern Washington and Idaho in the Rolle Activity Center last week. The Lumberjacks, 6-11 overall, have lost three straight matches since collecting their first two conference victories.
Redshirt junior Kaylie Jorgenson is coming off her first career 20-20 match, posting career-highs of 21 kills and 20 digs in the five-set defeat to Idaho Saturday. It was her team-leading 11th double-double of the season, third-most in the conference.
This season, NAU's service game has been short of last season's NCAA-leading effort but last weekend may have been a sign that the Lumberjacks are turning up the pressure at the line. The Lumberjacks tallied a season-high 14 aces against Idaho on Oct. 7 after acing Eastern Washington seven times in three sets the previous match. The 21 combined aces in back-to-back matches were their most since totaling 22 against UC Riverside and UC Irvine on Sept. 16-17 last season.
Portland State was predicted to finish fifth in the Big Sky preseason poll, a spot behind NAU, but has exceeded expectations thus far this season. The Vikings are currently tied for second in the conference with a 5-1 Big Sky mark and are coming off an impressive weekend in which they defeated both Northern Colorado and North Dakota in four sets at home.
Sacramento State was picked third prior to the season in the Big Sky and has established itself as the top team in the conference three weeks into league play. The Hornets are the lone remaining undefeated Big Sky team at 6-0 in conference after winning the battle of the unbeatens versus North Dakota last week at home in five sets. Sacramento State then improved to 15-7 overall by sweeping Northern Colorado to end the week.
Fans can watch Thursday's match on Pluto TV Channel 232 with Saturday's match available on Pluto TV Channel 233. Both matches can be streamed online at pluto.tv or on the Pluto TV app.
The Lumberjacks will travel to the University of Utah to compete in the 2017 ITA Mountain Regional, Oct. 11-15, playing with 18 other Division I women's programs from across the region during the five-day tournament held at the George S. Eccles Tennis Center.
The tournament will begin with doubles each day at 8 a.m. followed by singles competition. Chiara Tomasetti, Hanneke Lodewijks, Eirene Granville and Brandy Walker will represent the Lumberjacks in this highly competitive competition.
In doubles, Granville and Walker will pair for the Lumberjacks against Adriana Gergelyova and Maria Tatarnikova from Nevada.
In addition nationally ranked pair Tomasetti and Lodewijks, who will compete as the No. 2 seed with a first-round bye, will also represent the Lumberjacks. Last weekend, Tomasetti and Lodewijks fared well in the All-American Championships, going 3-2 overall.
In singles, both Lodewijks and Walker will compete in the top half of the draw; Lodewijks against UTEP's Erandi Martinez and Walker against Weber State's Devi Hasan while Tomasetti will compete in the bottom half of the draw with a first-round bye.