The Idaho volleyball team couldn’t hold off defending Big Sky Conference Champions Northern Arizona Saturday. The Lumberjacks (5-1) won 3-2 (25-20, 21-25, 18-25, 25-17, 11-15) in the Memorial Gym.
Idaho head coach Debbie Buchanan said injuries impacted the game.
“We have to get healthier and that’s part of our problem with this team,” Buchanan said. “A few kids are banged up right now, especially in the middle so we didn’t have a lot of offense and blocking coming down that way. We played consistent. Our blocking was better and now we just have to keep reducing some errors at critical times and not have to feel that sense of urgency.”
Sophomore setter Haylee Mathis earned a career-high 11 kills.
Mathis said the team handled the pressure well.
“We did a really great job keeping our composure and just doing simple things,” Mathis said. “Our passing in the first and fourth set were spot on and we were playing point by point.”
Idaho won the opening set 25-20 after an 8-2 run.
Senior defensive specialist Terra Varney set up the play and sophomore outside hitter Paige Rupiper finished it with a kill.
Northern Arizona’s rapid offense stopped Idaho. The Lumberjacks won set two and ended set three with a 25-18 win and a match-high .44 hitting percentage.
Consistent hitting and blocking won Idaho the fourth set 25-17.
Mathis and sophomore outside hitter DeVonne Ryter blocked a pass to force a fifth set.
A 3-0 run and one attack error from Northern Arizona put them in front for good and won set five 15-11.
Buchanan said Idaho’s five attack errors was a factor in the set loss.
“We can’t give up runs of three, that’s kind of what we’ve been working on and definitely did that in set five,” she said.
Mathis said despite the loss, Idaho controlled the pace of the match.
“Not once that we thought the game was out of our control,” she said. “We just need to focus on the simple things because that’s what worked tonight.”
Idaho travels to faces Weber State 7 p.m. Thursday in Ogden, Utah.
Luis Torres can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @TheLTFiles