The Northern Arizona volleyball team swept Gonzaga and snapped their three-match skid on Saturday in Tempe to close the Sparky Classic, 25-23, 25-13, 25-18. The Lumberjacks ended the first four weeks of the season with an 8-5 record that they will take into the start of Big Sky Conference play next weekend.
"I was impressed with our toughness," said Lumberjacks head coach Ken Murphy. "We had a couple of matches where we felt a little sorry for ourselves, but we really bounced back with a strong effort."
The Lumberjacks controlled the match in all aspects, outhitting the Bulldogs, .292-.028, and logging 10 blocks in notching their third sweep of the season. Northern Arizona's 10 blocks -- led by sophomore Danielle Hinz's four in her collegiate debut -- were its most in a three-set match this season.
Redshirt seniors Brittni Dorsey and Kaylie Jorgenson and junior Sydney Lema each tallied three blocks as Northern Arizona had six players record multiple rejections.
Lumberjacks' big block forced the Bulldogs into totaling 31 attack errors. In comparison, the Lumberjacks recorded 34 kills, with freshman Ryann Davis pacing the team with 12 kills -- matching her season-best total set Friday night against Arizona State -- on .600 hitting.
Davis had the hot hand early, recording five kills on five swings to guide her team to a narrow first-set win. Although Northern Arizona hit .391 and raced out to a 5-1 lead, it was in a dogfight as Gonzaga battled back to take a 13-11 lead. Another 5-1 run started by a Davis kill snapped a 15-15 tie, only for the teams to be deadlocked at 23-23, the 11th tie of the opener. But a Jorgenson kill and Gonzaga ball handling error lifted NAU to the early edge.
The Lumberjacks' block really got rolling in the second set, where the team totaled half of their 10 blocks. Six of Gonzaga's 10 attack errors in the set occurred during an early 7-1 NAU run that gave the Jacks a 9-3 advantage.
Gonzaga led 14-12 midway through the third stanza. It was there that the Lumberjacks turned the set in their favor with a 6-0 run. After the Bulldogs score two straight points, Lema started a mini three-point spurt with a kill that extended NAU's advantage to 21-16. After a Davis kill put NAU at match point, freshman Aubrea Bandfield punctuated the sweep with an ace.
Lema (12) and senior Jordan Anderson (11) tallied double-digit digs, while junior Abby Stomp led the Lumberjacks with 17 assists.
Northern Arizona started Saturday off with a loss.
Facing their its 2-0 deficit of the season, the Northern Arizona lost to Texas State, 25-17, 25-21, 16-25, 25-17.
With the exception of the third set, the Jacks struggled to slow down the Bobcats, with NAU surrendering a .306 opponent attack clip. The Lumberjacks hit .203, with Heaven Harris leading the way with nine kills. Jorgenson added eight kills and posted 12 digs.
"(The third set) was how long it took us to get Texas State under control defensively," Murphy said. "Really, when we were locked in defensively we had a lot of success."
NAU extended the match into a fourth set by rolling through the third. Behind a dominant serve (three aces) and an effective attack (.375 hitting percentage), the Lumberjacks played their best set of the morning after dropping the first two games.
The Lumberjacks will open the Big Sky slate Thursday in the Rolle Activity Center with Idaho State at 7 p.m.
When play at the Bedford Cup in the Mountains picks up today, the women's tennis team will be well represented in the championship matches after the Lumberjacks posted several positive results on Saturday in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
In singles, the Lumberjacks will have a player in the championship match in both flights.
Junior Chiara Tomasetti will match up with Air Force's TJ Fumagalli in the Flight A final after picking up a pair of victories on the third day of competition at the Air Force Academy. In the quarterfinal, Tomasetti defeated Elizabeth Barnickel of Air Force, 6-1, 6-3, before proceeding to defeat Anja Dokic of Boise State, 7-5, 6-2, in the semifinal. Tomasetti has yet to drop a set this weekend.
Freshman Emilie Haakansson also earned two wins to advance to the Flight B final, defeating New Mexico's Natasha Munday, 6-2, 6-4, in the quarterfinal and Air Force's Meredith Laskey, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, in the semifinal.
Tomasetti will try to exact some revenge over Fumagalli, who knocked senior Hanneke Lodewijks out of the Flight A quarterfinal. Lodewijks suffered her first loss of the fall, 6-3, 6-0.
Other Lumberjacks picking up singles wins on Saturday were sophomore Madi Moore in Flight A and freshman Adrianna Sosnowska in Flight B. Moore defeated a pair of Southern Utah players in the consolation bracket. She earned a three-set 0-6, 6-3, 1-0 tiebreak win over Zoe Tanti before moving past Jana Weiss, who retired in the second set. Moore was leading 4-1 in the second set after winning the first, 6-3. Meanwhile, Sosnowska defeated both Megan Poe of Idaho State and Ana Royo of Wyoming by identical 6-4, 6-2 scores.
The Jacks will also have a team in the Doubles Flight B championship in Moore and sophomore Cora-Lynn von Dungern. The pair did not play on Saturday after winning their semifinal match on Friday.
NAU did fare well in doubles play though on Saturday, with the highlight coming from Haakansson and Lodewijks. The duo recorded a nationally ranked win over No. 60 Elisa Koonik and Tessa van Der Ploeg of Wyoming, 8-5, in the Flight A consolation. Likewise in consolation play, Tomasetti and Sosnowska defeated Utah State's Alexandra Taylor and Gabrielle Dekkers, 8-2.
The final day of the ITA Bedford Cup in the Mountains tournament will start at 8 a.m. today.