Lumberjacks host Idaho State in Big Sky volleyball opener

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona volleyball team opens Big Sky play this week with Idaho State and Weber State coming to the Rolle Activity Center this Thursday and Saturday. Thursday night’s game will be televised live on FOX Sports Arizona, starting at 7 p.m.

The Lumberjacks are 6-3 overall after dropping two of three matches in last week’s Lobo Invitational.

“I think we’re comfortable in our system and our understanding of how we play together has really improved a lot,” coach Ken Murphy said. “We’re at a stage where we’re ready for conference, and we have a solid list of things that we want to improve on. We obviously didn’t play as well as we would’ve liked last week, but we learned a lot from it.”

Sophomore libero Trianna Henry was the team’s standout last weekend, earning all-tournament recognition while registering 40 digs in three matches.

Sophomore Janae Vander Ploeg continues to lead the team in kills (3.11 per set) and points (99.0) and has totaled double-digit kills in five of the team’s nine matches, while junior Sydney Kemper and freshman Addy Lofstedt also are averaging more than 2.50 kills per set.

Idaho State (6-5) knocked off NAU in the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference tournament last year. The teams split a pair of regular-season matches, with each team winning at home.

The Bengals were picked second in the Big Sky preseason coaches poll and are led by senior setter Lori Mendenhall-Lee, the reigning Big Sky MVP. They also boast the conference leaders in kills in sophomore Tressa Lyman (3.97 per set) and hitting percentage in sophomore Makenzie Filer (.448).

Weber State entered the week with a 4-9 record. Freshman Katie Harvey is the team’s leading blocker at 1.11 per set, sixth in the Big Sky.