After totaling the best conference record in team history, Weber State volleyball will have a chance to pair its regular-season title with a tournament crown and earn the program’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1988.
Weber State powered to a 3-1 victory over Northern Arizona in the Big Sky tournament semifinals Thursday evening by set scores of 23-25, 25-14, 25-12, 25-17.
Consecutive kills from Dani Nay appeared to give Weber State (17-1) a leg up late in a tight first set at 21-19, but consecutive blocks from Jordan Elder and a WSU attack error helped NAU to a 23-21 lead and Taylor Jacobsen converted two kills to give NAU (10-6) a 25-23 win to open the match.
WSU spent the next three sets making it look like a match between the No. 1 seed and the No. 5 seed.
In set two, Sam Schiess combined for blocks with Emma Mangum and Rylin Adams, then stonewalled an attack by herself in the middle of the net. Adams added her own solo block and WSU led 12-5. Adams and Schiess tallied a pair of kills late in the set for a 25-14 decision.
“(Schiess) was touching a lot of balls. It’s not always about stuffing it, it’s about touching it and redirecting it to our back row,” WSU head coach Jeremiah Larsen said. “A lot of those digs are balls off the top of the block.”
Weber dominated the third set from the jump, going up 5-0 early and eventually building it to 21-5. Across one stretch between sets two and three, WSU outscored NAU 32-9.
WSU went up 11-3 early in set four before the Lumberjacks cut it to 15-12, then again to 20-16. But a long rally took the life out of NAU when the ‘Jacks blocked a Schiess attack back to WSU’s side, but Kate Standifird saved it with a reaching stab that dropped the ball just over the net and to the floor. That made it 22-16 and Adams soon finished the match with a kill.
Adams led WSU with 19 kills and 16 digs. Nay and Schiess each had 12 kills, with Nay adding 15 digs. Makayla Sorensen totaled 23 digs and Ashlyn Power had 46 assists.
“It was a good day. Makayla Sorensen is a super underrated libero for a freshman. She really ball-controls at a high level ... we were able to dig and turn a little bit better than NAU today,” Larsen said.
WSU faces the winner of Thursday’s late semifinal between Northern Colorado and Southern Utah at 8 p.m. Friday.