The NAU Lumberjacks came into Monday's game looking for back-to-back wins against Weber State. NAU is currently second in a tight and competitive Big Sky Conference and fought hard, but fell to the Wildcats, 3-1.
The match started off slow offensively for the Lumberjacks after the Wildcats took the lead right in the beginning, 5-2, and continued to dominate the rest of the set. Weber State senior outside hitter Rylin Adams leads the Big Sky Conference in kills per set with 4.23 and that momentum showed on the court, with kills the Lumberjacks did not have an answer for.
NAU sophomore outside hitter Taylor Jacobsen hit her third kill of the set as NAU trailed 23-17. She trails Adams in kills per set this season at No. 2, averaging 4.13.
The Wildcats had only two errors while the Lumberjacks committed six in set one. The set ended with Weber State taking it 25-17.
The Lumberjacks seeked to shift the momentum in the next set as Jacobsen got her fourth kill on the first point of set two.
“We are a lot better when she’s producing a ton of kills,” NAU head coach Ken Murphy said. “She is pretty hard to stop.”
The Lumberjacks redeemed themselves with a score of 25-18 in set two and evened it up with the Wildcats. The third set looked promising for the Lumberjacks as well, as NAU gained a 4-1 advantage and continued to lead with yet another flawless kill from Jacobsen.
The team performed defensively with senior opposite hitter Heaven Harris, sophomore middle blocker Neche Newton and Jacobsen at the net. The trio combined for six blocks Monday.
Late in the set, the Wildcats found a groove and made a comeback to eventually take the lead 19-18. The Lumberjacks tried to stop the run with a few timeouts, but the Wildcats pulled away and won, 25-20.
The Lumberjacks were determined to win set four and pushed the Wildcats to the very end of a back-and-forth rally. In a gritty final set, the Wildcats put an end to NAU’s five-game winning streak and avenged their first loss of the season they suffered to NAU on Sunday.
“We didn’t play with as much confidence,” Murphy said. “They were fighting really hard, but we would get to the end and I told them to take this where they wanted to take it and serve the way they wanted to. I feel really good about progress, we are getting better in every phase of the game.”
The Lumberjacks are 9-3 overall with just two matches left in the regular season. In this back-to-back series, NAU will travel to Greeley, Colorado, to play against the Northern Colorado Bears March 14 at 3 p.m. and March 15 at 5 p.m. Both matches can be seen on Pluto TV Channel 1059.