The Northern Arizona volleyball team claimed its first outright Lumberjack Classic title in four years on Saturday, sweeping Fresno State, 25-17, 25-23, 25-12, to complete a perfect home-opening weekend.
Lumberjacks freshman outside hitter Taylor Jacobsen was selected as the tournament Most Valuable Player following the conclusion of the match and was joined on the All-Tournament Team by outside hitters Heaven Harris and Ryann Davis.
The Lumberjacks (6-3), who previously blanked both South Dakota State and LSU on Friday, extended their winning streak to four matches overall.
The Lumberjacks suffocated the Bulldogs behind an enormous 13-1 blocks advantage. Middle blocker Abby Akin set a new career high with four solo blocks and finished the match with seven in all. Akin was not alone at the block party, with fellow middle Victoria Ewalefo recording a season-best six blocks. Harris and Davis each posted four rejections.
Fresno State hit only .052 for the match and committed 30 attack errors. Northern Arizona committed just eight errors and hit .320, with Abby Stomp and Aubrea Bandfield combining for 31 assists and setting the Jacks to their fourth .300-plus performance in their last five matches.
"It feels good and hopefully we're getting our game together consistently," said Lumberjacks head coach Ken Murphy. "The second set today was sloppy and we were a little off and in the third, we had it going from beginning to end. It's important to get used to different situations and prove to ourselves what we're capable of."
Sydney Lema, Akin and Harris all hit .400 or better and posted a team-best nine kills each. Lema came up one kill shy of tallying a double-double after recording a match-high 13 digs. Freshman libero Jasmine West (12) and Jacobsen (10) also reached double-digit digs.
Although the Bulldogs were swept, they were the team that jumped out of the gates first with an initial 4-0 lead. The hosts responded with a 6-1 run before the two teams eventually locked up at 12-12. A Fresno State service error snapped the tie and ignited a 5-1 Northern Arizona run that put the Lumberjacks in front, 17-13. The Lumberjacks closed the set with the final five points to secure the first game.
"We came out of last night feeling really good about the (LSU) victory, but still feeling ready for today," Murphy said. "We gave up a few (points) at the beginning, but I felt like we were a point or two away from getting into a rhythm. I was really impressed because we kept our composure and found it."
A 9-4 Lumberjack lead evaporated as the Bulldogs managed to tie it at 15-15 before holding a late 19-16 advantage in the second set. But three consecutive Fresno State attack errors, with the last coming on a block by Harris and Ewalefo, squared up the set at 20-20. The second stanza came down to the wire until Akin hammered her fifth kill of the set to wrap up her team's 2-0 advantage.
Northern Arizona never trailed in the third set, but it took awhile for it to break the game open. Leading 11-8, a Harris kill was followed by three solo blocks by Akin in succession. Akin added another block with Davis to cap a 7-1 Lumberjacks surge to put the Bulldogs in a hole they could not recover from. The Lumberjacks posted seven blocks in the third set alone -- four by Akin -- to stifle any Bulldogs' hope of a comeback.
"Sweeping teams obviously gives you confidence, especially teams like LSU, or Fresno State, who are high-level teams," Lema said. "We're only going up from here. Of course there are still things we can improve on, but we're confident and you can see that on the court."
For the weekend, Jacobsen averaged 2.78 kills and 3.56 digs per set to garner Lumberjack Classic MVP honors. She hit .303 and led the team with five aces. Harris and Davis averaged 3.22 and 2.78 kills per set respectively. Both hitters were stout defensively as well with Harris totaling eight blocks and Davis posting seven.
Northern Arizona's final weekend before conference play will be spent in Gainesville, Florida, at the Florida Invitational.
You have free articles remaining.
HALL OF FAME
Northern Arizona celebrated the members of the 2019 Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Class on Friday evening at the High Country Conference Center in Flagstaff.
The special event was attended by a large contingent of NAU alumni, former student athletes, current and former members of the athletic department as well as other supporters of the university as they joined to honor and remember the storied careers of the inductees, each of which will be forever honored among an exclusive group of athletes that personify what it is to be a Lumberjack.
The 2019 NAU Enshrinement Class was also honored at halftime of Saturday's football game against Western New Mexico in the Walkup Skydome.
Former Northern Arizona running back Zach Bauman, volleyball player Maggie Barrera, ice hockey head coach Gerald Caple and the 2003 men's cross country team joined the nearly 200 others since the Hall's establishment in 1981.
Chiara Tomasetti notched her fourth singles win of the weekend and will play for the Flight A championship to highlight Saturday's action at the ITA Bedford Cup in the Mountains hosted by Air Force. In all, NAU went 5-1 as a team in singles and 2-1 in doubles on its third day of competition at the Air Force Outdoor Intercollegiate Tennis Courts.
Tomasetti will face Air Force's TJ Fumagalli in the championship match for the second straight season on Sunday. She will have an opportunity to avenge last year's loss to Fumagalli after she bounced Bronte Murgett of New Mexico by a 6-3, 6-4 score in the semifinals.
Northern Arizona's Mimi Bland fell short in her bid to advance to the final in the Flight B singles. The loss was the first of the weekend for Bland in her debut tournament.
In Flight A, Emilie Haakansson knocked off Myu Kageyama of New Mexico, 6-3, 6-3, and Adrianna Sosnowska knocked off Air Force's Nadeen Lieberman in three sets.
Elinor Beazley dominated Montana State's Daphne Haverkamp in Flight B. Also in the Flight B backdraw, Sydney Roman tallied her first victory of the fall against Natalie Stanton of Northern Colorado, 6-0, 7-6.
The Lumberjacks pairing of Haakansson and Sosnowska dropped a semifinal match to Fumagalli and Meredith Jones of Air Force, 8-6, in their bid for the championship. Northern Arizona, however, claimed doubles victories by its remaining tandems in the consolation draw.
Tomasetti and Ellie Millard a Wyoming pairing, 8-4, while Beazley and Bland defeated a New Mexico duo by an identical score.