NAU volleyball managed to take home a victory in their first matchup with Portland State University in a five-set thriller. The Lumberjacks pulled away late in the three sets they won, but mightily struggled in the two they lost. However, the Lumberjacks came up big when it counted in order to improve to 2-1 on the season.
After splitting their opening weekend with Cal State University, Sacramento, the Lumberjacks traveled to Portland State to take on the Vikings. After a dominant opening performance to start the season 1-0, the Lumberjacks struggled with service errors on Monday, leading to a 3-1 loss to the Hornets.
Portland State also split their opening series against the University of Idaho, but both matches were narrow margins.
While the two teams battled throughout the whole first set, a run midway through set the Lumberjacks apart and despite a late Viking push, NAU won the set 25-22 on a kill by sophomore outside hitter Taylor Jacobsen.
The second set saw Portland State ride their serves to a win, finishing the set with five-consecutive aces, while NAU struggled as they suffered from 4 service errors during the set.
Portland State didn’t struggle throughout the set and while NAU managed to trade points late in the set, it wasn’t enough as the Vikings took the second set 25-20.
NAU rallied to start the third set, going up as much as 8-3. Then, another run extended that lead even further to 16-9. Portland State attempted a rally, but the Lumberjacks’ lead was too much as NAU took the set 25-20.
Portland State shined in a do-or-die fourth set as the Vikings opened the set on a 9-3 run. The Lumberjacks just couldn’t get their footing back under them and despite plenty of hard-fought points, the Vikings extended the game to a fifth set after taking the forth 25-13. Portland State took advantage of 15 kills in the fourth in order to stay in the match.
It all came down to the fifth and final set for the first game of the series. This was NAU’s first fifth-set match of the young season, but it was already familiar territory for the Vikings, playing to five in all of their games this season. The teams traded blows to start the set, neither pulling ahead by more than one through the first 15 points, but then, Jacobsen gave the Lumberjacks some breathing room when her kill put NAU up 9-7.
Portland State stayed within striking distance before tying the game at 12, never allowing NAU to stretch their lead past two. After an NAU timeout, the Lumberjacks regained their composure and brought their lead right back to two following a service error.
Freshman libero Millie O’Ketter brought the Lumberjacks within one point of victory and senior opposite Heaven Harris closed the game with a big kill across the court, securing victory for NAU.
The Lumberjacks may have walked away with the win, but service errors were once again an issue for them as they had 18 in the match. Harris and Jacobsen led the Lumberjacks with 15 and 13 kills respectively.
NAU improves to 2-1 on the season and will have another matchup with Portland State Sunday at 1:00 p.m.