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NAU Volleyball suffered its first conference loss of the season Saturday night against the Northern Colorado Bears. The Bears capitalized on the momentum they gained late in the first set and didn’t give it up until midway through the last set where, despite a late NAU run, the Bears pulled away and closed out the Lumberjacks in straight sets. 

Despite a rocky start to their season, NAU entered the game hoping to extend a three-game winning streak since starting conference play. The Northern Colorado Bears also came in with an undefeated conference record as well as a strong start to their season with an 11-3 record. 

The opening set was a battle with the two teams trading blows, NAU riding behind junior outside hitter Taylor Jacobsen who ended the set with 4 kills. Still, Northern Colorado would find the early momentum and begin to pull away. The Bears’ momentum in the second half of the set delivered the team the first set, 25-20. This was also the first set the Lumberjacks had lost in their last 3 games. 

Northern Colorado capitalized on the momentum from the first set, jumping out to a 13-8 lead despite the Lumberjacks fighting to keep the match close. Following an NAU timeout, the Bears would run away with the set — finishing it 25-14. The Bears defense was leading the way with the team getting 39 digs between the first two sets.

The Lumberjacks looked deflated going into the third set, giving up the first five points. However, they weren't done. NAU slowly began clawing its way back into the set and eventually tying it, 14-14. The Bears would once again jump out to a lead but the Lumberjacks were always close behind. Still, the team would need to find a way into the lead in order to keep their unbeaten conference record alive. In the end, it looked like the Lumberjacks simply ran out of energy following their comeback, eventually falling to the Bears in the final set 25-18. 

The sweep ends the Lumberjacks’ win streak and gives them their first loss in conference play. NAU Volleyball will continue its road trip next week against Sacramento State, who are 7-7 with a 2-2 conference record. The teams will play in Sacramento on Thursday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.

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