NAU volleyball wins UNLV Invitational

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Senior Kelli Dallmann had a career-high 19 kills and Northern Arizona hit .357 as a team and .533 in the deciding fourth set to get past UNLV 3-1 (25-15, 27-25, 20-25, 25-15) on Saturday to move to 3-0 on the season and win the UNLV Invitational. Dallmann was named the MVP of the tournament while sophomore Sydney Kemper and freshman Janae Vander Ploeg were also named to the All-Tournament team.
“We kind of lost some momentum in the third and got tentative, but they showed what they’re made of in the fourth,” NAU head coach Craig Choate said. “We have freshmen and sophomores contributing and just play hard. I would have been happy going 2-1 this weekend, but to win all three is a fabulous start for us.”
Dallmann hit .395 en route to her career high in kills and totaled 44 kills (4.00 kills per set) for the three-match tournament. Vander Ploeg added 13 kills and eight digs in the match and averaged 2.91 kills per set for the weekend, while Kemper closed the tournament with 2.36 kills and 1.00 blocks per set. Senior Jen Wilson chipped in eight kills and six blocks in the win over UNLV as NAU has now gone undefeated in four consecutive non-conference tournaments dating back to last season.
NAU claimed the opening set behind a balanced attack and committing just a single service error. The Lumberjacks hit .355 with 12 kills in the opening stanza while UNLV hit .105 with nine attack errors as NAU jumped to a 1-0 lead.
In a tight second set, NAU built an 18-14 lead before UNLV rallied back to level the set at 22-22. The Rebels would take a 23-22 lead, their first lead of the match, before NAU capitalized on an attack error and a kill by freshman Payton Bock to go up 24-23. The Rebels came back to even the set at 25, but NAU scored on a UNLV attack error and got a block from Bock and senior Jen Wilson to claim the second set and take a 2-0 lead.
UNLV rallied back in the fourth after opening up a 6-0 lead. NAU rallied to get even at 8-8 but UNLV hit a match-high .256 in the set to win 25-20 and force a fourth set. The Lumberjacks dominated the fourth set from the onset opening up an early 12-3 lead and would not lead by less than eight points for the remainder of the set. Up 24-15, Kemper’s sixth kill of the match gave NAU the tournament crown.
In NAU’s first match on Saturday, Dallmann, Kemper, and Vander Ploeg each had double-digit kills as NAU rallied from a first set loss to defeat CSU Bakersfield, 3-1 (26-28, 25-16, 25-22, 25-13).
Dallmann and Vander Ploeg paced the team with 12 kills apiece and Kemper added 11 kills and a team high five blocks, while all three hit .370 or better. Senior Jen Wilson added nine kills on a .571 hitting percentage while sophomore Kalee Kirby totaled a career-high 45 assists. CSU Bakersfield’s Debora Araujo was nearly unstoppable totaling 23 kills on a .405 hitting percentage.
CSU Bakersfield emerged victorious in an extremely tight first set, using a .515 hitting percentage led by seven kills on a .778 hitting percentage from junior Debra Araujo to pull away late. An NAU service error followed by an attack error gave the Roadrunners the opening set, which featured 23 ties and five lead changes, 28-26.
NAU responded in a big way in the second set, dropping CSU Bakersfield’s hitting percentage to .185 and controlling the set throughout. NAU hit .375 as a team and led the entire set to level the match with a 25-16 set win. In the third, NAU broke a tight score open to take a 23-17 lead before the Roadrunners closed to within two points at 23-21. The Lumberjacks would then capitalize on ball handling error and a kill from Kemper to take the set 25-22. The Lumberjacks dominated the fourth set after jumping to a quick 7-0 lead. NAU would build to a 15-3 lead and use a .520 hitting percentage to claim the set, 25-13, and clinch the match.