The Lumberjacks kicked off the season with an exhibition game against University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Aug. 24. The team had not played a scrimmage since their tour through Europe concluded.
With the start of the new season means returners and fresh faces intermingling on the court for five sets. Abby Akin and Ryann Davis held a strong presence at the net accumulating a match total of 19 kills between the two.
Akin is ranked first in program history with hitting percentage at .383 and finished this game with a percentage of .556. The 6 foot 3 middle blocker contributed to four of the teams 10 blocks. Together, the team had 16 block attempts.
A new face on the court was freshman libero Jasmine West. She stayed on the backline and was quick at the net to assist the front line with tips and dumps served by the Rebels.
UNLV’s right side hitter Erin Davis gave her a run for her money with 12 kills overall.
West was occasionally accompanied by junior Olivia Turner in the back line. Turner rotated around the court and put up numbers offensively and defensively with 4 kills and 1 block.
UNLV held their own at the net and forced long rallies against NAU. Any shanked balls on both sides were quickly picked up and freeballed to the other side.
NAU carried a consistent lead through the third set but the Rebels were never far behind. Akin was a wall at the net and blocked a hit for the set point, leading the Lumberjacks in sets 2-1.
Nothing changed with the fourth set. The two teams scrapped and created a back and forth score until the Lumberjacks separated themselves with a kill by Ryann Davis and won 25-17.
To create the environment and extra practice for both teams, it was decided to head into a fifth match to 15. NAU rotated in newer players to get some playing time for the first time in Flagstaff.
“It was good to see us settle down, get into the match and just see us play our style,” said head coach Ken Murphy. “From the first day it seemed like we’d been playing together for a long time. The way they interact and enjoy being around each other."
The Lumberjacks head to Ann Arbor, Michigan for three matches at the Michigan Invitational Aug. 30 and 31.