The NAU volleyball team bulldozed through Eastern Washington University 25-16, 25-18 and 25-20 in a home sweep. Sunday, the Lumberjacks got off to a hot start in each of the sets.
“We wanted the players to play their game and realize that you don't have to be perfect on the first play,” NAU head coach Ken Murphy said. “We got better throughout the game, which really took the pressure off of us.”
NAU came out hot with a 9-2 jumpstart. They came out firing and got an ace from freshman setter Kate Hatch and a block from sophomore outside hitter Taylor Jacobsen to put the Eagles behind. The Lumberjacks came out hot with a 50% attack in the first set and held Eastern Washington to just an 8.3% attack.
Just as momentum was on the verge of shifting with the Eagles climbing back from down 9-2 to 12-10, it was freshman middle blocker Savannah Bloom with the kill to settle down the run. Jacobsen put the game back in the hands of NAU with a kill to put the score at 15-11. NAU stretched the lead in the first set and finished with a score of 25-16 aided by one of Eastern Washington’s 19 attack errors to close the set.
NAU jumped out to a 5-2 start in the second set, but the Eagles came soaring back and stayed with them, eventually tying it up at 12 and forcing NAU to call a timeout. The teams continuously went back and forth until Jacobsen got one of her 13 kills, which put NAU up 15-14.
The Lumberjacks never gave up the lead after that and were led through the second set by clutch kills from Jacobsen and senior opposite Heaven Harris, as well as an ace by junior setter Aubrea Bandfield.
“We put an emphasis on working on our serves and having the aces to balance out the misses,” Murphy said.
NAU had 11 aces while only committing eight service errors. Bloom and Hatch were a big part in NAU's serving success as Bloom had four aces and Hatch had five.
To start off the final set, NAU got aggressive immediately and went on a 7-0 run with Jacobsen starting where she left off in the previous set. After the lead ballooned, the Lumberjacks started committing errors.
“In the third set, we lost our focus and started to make some hitting errors because we had such a big lead,” Murphy said.
The Lumberjacks had their most errors in the third set with seven. NAU had three-straight errors at one point, which was changing the momentum. Eventually the lead dwindled down to three with the score being 23-20. With the game close, NAU relied on their player with the most kills. Jacobsen got a kill to firmly bring the game back into Lumberjack hands, pushing the score 24-20. To clinch the final set, the Eagles aided the Lumberjacks once again with one of their 19 errors.
NAU improves to 5-2 on the year and will close the two-game series with Eastern Washington Monday evening at Rolle Activity Center.