Big Sky-leading NAU volleyball looks to continue hot streak

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The Northern Arizona volleyball team wraps up a four-match homestand by hosting North Dakota on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Northern Colorado on Saturday at noon. Thursday’s match can be seen live on FOX Sports Arizona.

The Lumberjacks (17-4, 7-1) are off to their best start in Big Sky  play in school history following last week’s victory over previously unbeaten Idaho State that moved NAU into a three-way tie atop the conference standings with Idaho State and Eastern Washington.

"It’s important for us to put last week behind us and understand that we have a lot of challenging things in front of us," NAU coach Ken Murphy said. "We know North Dakota was picked near the top of our conference and received a couple of first-place votes. They have a lot of weapons and we’ll need to be focused on Thursday. The same goes with Northern Colorado. They’re the defending champions and they’re a really good team who plays hard. We have two strong challenges ahead of us this weekend."

NAU senior Janae Vander Ploeg is the reigning Big Sky Player of the Week and leads the conference and is 10th in the nation in kills at 4.65 per set. She is 522 kills short of Tami Burchard’s school record for career kills (1,482).

Senior Payton Block had 16 blocks in last week’s matches and is averaging 2.14 blocks per set. She leads the nation in total blocks with 123, and her career total of 499 is second most among active players.

North Dakota is 16-9 overall and 4-4 in conference play. Northern Colorado is 8-13 and 4-4.