The NAU Lumberjacks looked to bounce back in Greeley, Colorado after dropping the first match of a Wednesday doubleheader against the Northern Colorado Bears three sets to two at 11 a.m. In a rematch at 6 p.m., the Bears beat the Lumberjacks 3-0.
With this being the final home game of the season for the defending Big Sky Conference champions, Northern Colorado would celebrate its senior night and recognize the team’s veterans.
“I’m proud of the seniors”, Northern Colorado head coach Lyndsey Oates said. “They’ve just been great role models in our program of staying positive, working hard, putting in tons of extra reps.”
In the first set of the match, the Lumberjacks already looked winded. The Bears came out strong early, getting out to a quick 9-3 lead.
NAU brought in senior opposite hitter Heaven Harris off the bench to provide a spark and lead a comeback. Harris would certainly make a difference with her team-high four kills in the set.
Despite the change, the Bears clearly continued to have the advantage with some great plays by senior setter Daisy Schultz who would collect all 10 Northern Colorado assists in the set.
The Lumberjacks began to close in during the first set, cutting the Bears’ lead to four and forced them to call a timeout with the score at 20-16. Northern Colorado held on to the first set, winning it 25-18.
The second set didn’t start any better for the Lumberjacks, quickly falling behind 6-0. NAU had no response to Northern Colorado’s spikes early on, especially from sophomore outside hitter Rachel Hickman.
Once again, the Lumberjacks found momentum when they suddenly got to within one point led by multiple kills from junior opposite hitter Ryann Davis.
This set played out similarly to the first, with the Bears coming out strong and the Lumberjacks looking to make a push late.
NAU forced a set-point scenario three times in the set thanks to a pair of kills from Davis and sophomore outside hitter Taylor Jacobsen. However, yet another kill from Hickman gave the Bears a second-set win, 25-20. NAU needed a huge comeback to come away with a win.
NAU came out swinging in the third and earned the first point of the set off a kill from freshman outside hitter Lyla Hollis. However, that would quickly be nullified by a Hollis service error. The Lumberjacks were down 7-5 early in the set, but that was the closest they could get to a hot Northern Colorado squad.
NAU couldn’t catch a break as they had a hitting percentage of .000 in the third set while Northern Colorado had their best hitting set with a percentage of .417.
The third and final set would be run almost entirely by Northern Colorado senior outside hitter Taylor Muff as she claimed nine of her game-high 15 kills in the third set alone.
The Bears led in every major statistical category. Assists were a huge reason for Northern Colorado’s domination. Daisy Schultz recorded an astonishing 29 of the Bears’ 37 assists. She single-handedly out-assisted the Lumberjacks, who ended with a total of 26.
Despite the Lumberjacks having led 2-1 in the first match, they had no answer for the Bears Wednesday night, ending the regular season with a record of 9-5 and on a three-game losing streak. NAU’s last win came against the then-undefeated Weber State Wildcats March 7.
As of March 18, the Lumberjacks sit at fourth in the Big Sky Conference with a week left in the season.
The Lumberjacks will have to sit and wait this weekend to see if their current seeding holds as they will return to Greeley to compete in the conference tournament beginning March 31.