NAU volleyball returns home for crucial Big Sky matches

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — After playing 12 of its last 13 overall matches away from Flagstaff, the NAU volleyball team returns home for its next four matches. The homestand opens with a pair of games that can be seen on FOX Sports Arizona Plus: Thursday night against Weber State and Saturday afternoon vs. Big Sky co-leader Idaho State.

Thursday’s match begins at 7 p.m., and Saturday’s starts at 4 p.m.

NAU (15-4, 5-1) has won its last four matches and is in third place the Big Sky standings. Senior Payton Bock broke the school record for career blocks last week, raising her total to 482, and senior Janae Vander Ploeg is averaging 4.58 kills per set. Bock is fourth nationally with 106 blocks, and Vander Ploeg is 12th in the nation with 326 kills. She is 17 kills short of tying Maggie Barrera for second place in school history.

Senior Payton Bock has become NAU’s all-time leader in blocks, with 482 for her career entering this weekend’s play.

The Lumberjacks have won 18 of their last 19 matches at home.

"It’s also important not to overthink the home court and approach every point, every match exactly the same whether we’re at home or on the road," NAU coach Ken Murphy said. "Weber State is much improved and they are more organized in their systems. Saturday versus Idaho State is a match everyone in the conference has been looking forward to, including us. We will be ready for the challenges ahead of us this weekend."

Weber State (5-12, 1-5) will be trying to end a five-match losing streak. The Wildcats are led by Megan Thompson, who leads the Big Sky individually at 1.58 blocks per set.

Idaho State (14-6, 6-0) has won eight in a row and is tied atop the conference standings with Eastern Washington. The Bengals lead the Big Sky in hitting percentage (.250), with Tressa Lyman ranked third in kills per set (4.01) and Hayley Farrer ranked second in assists per set (11.03). Idaho State defeated the Lumberjacks all three times they played a year ago — including in the Big Sky Conference semifinals.