The Lumberjacks traveled to Moscow, Idaho for a matchup against the University of Idaho Vandals Thursday after snapping a three-game losing streak. NAU had the upper-hand since Idaho was coming off a loss against the University of Northern Colorado, but could not pull away with the win as the Vandals won the match 3-1.
A competitive back-and-forth battle opened the match that saw both teams scrapping for every point. Eventually, the Lumberjacks pulled ahead behind freshman outside hitter Taylor Jacobsen, whose serving would give NAU a 14-10 lead. The Lumberjacks rode the momentum to a 22-17 set lead, but Idaho rallied to make it 22-20.
NAU won the next two points and secured the set after a kill from senior middle blocker Abby Akin, winning 25-22.
Similar patterns followed in the second set as NAU jumped out to an early lead, but never looked too comfortable. With NAU on their toes, the Vandals claimed their first lead at 10-9. Quickly after, the Lumberjacks regained the lead with a three-point streak to make it 12-10.
Idaho answered back and pulled ahead 17-13. Again, the back-and-forth contest continued, which saw both teams trading points. But the Vandals rode another late surge to a 25-18 win, tying the match at 1-1.
The third set followed the script of the first two with neither team able to dominate the other. Both teams could not hold more than a two-point lead until Idaho pulled away late again, winning the set 25-21.
Idaho's late start continued early in the fourth set, as the Vandals took a commanding 10-1 lead, with the Lumberjacks clearly lacking energy. NAU struggled to gain footing for the remainder of the set, ultimately falling 25-14, as the Vandals were victorious 3-1.
"We played a little bit more of the style of volleyball we like and we had a lot of moments where our offense was working good and our defense was really strong," Murphy said. "I actually do think this is improvement over the last couple of weeks."
This loss for Lumberjacks was not easy after they squashed a three-game losing streak and begin a tough stretch of road games.
"This is as tough as it gets," Murphy said to NAU Athletics. "We're definitely going to come out of these next few weeks knowing a lot more about ourselves."
Their improvements will be tested Saturday against Eastern Washington University.