Kelli Dallmann sparks NAU volleyball’s 12-0 record start

After six weeks of play, there are only three undefeated Division I college volleyball teams in the country.  Two of them are in the Big Ten and the other calls Arizona its home.

One of the Big 12 teams?  Nope… it’s Northern Arizona University, which plays in the smaller, less-prestigious Big Sky Conference.

And, even more surprising, the Lumberjacks were picked in the pre-season poll to finish a lowly seventh in the conference.  Right now, only Eastern Washington ranks above them in the Big Sky standings, and only because the Eagles have played one more conference match than NAU.  Eastern is 4-0 and the ‘Jacks are sitting in second place at 3-0.

NAU will get a chance to move into first this weekend since they take on Eastern Washington on Saturday.

And they will take on the Eagles with one of the hottest players in the Big Sky on their side of the net.  Kelli Dallmann, a former high school standout down in the Valley, has been leading the Lumberjacks’ early-season surge that has set a school record.

NAU’s five-set win over Sacramento State last week put them over the old 11-0 record for best season starts, set by the 1991 team.  They share the distinction of being one of three undefeated D-I teams with Purdue and Illinois.

And Dallmann’s performance in that last game earned her Big Sky Player of the Week honors, the second time she has achieved that recognition this season (an NAU player has won all but one of the six weekly awards).  The junior from Cactus High School recorded 57 assists, 15 digs, and four blocks in leading the Jacks through that back-and-forth contest that took five sets to complete.

The double-double was the seventh this season for the 5’10” setter, who was the conference’s Most Outstanding Freshman in 2009 and last year started all 26 matches for the Jacks and was named to the All Big Sky second team.

Another local product also stepped up in the Sacramento State game, giving the team an early boost and then helping shut the door in the final set, 15-7.

Lexi Sullivan, a junior outside hitter from Mountain View High School in Mesa, helped the Jacks to a 25-18 win in the first set by recording seven kills and hitting .412.  In the fifth and deciding set, she had five kills to finish the match with a season-high 22 kills, while hitting a perfect 1.000 for the final set.

The Jacks are back on the road again, with Portland State up next.  That Friday match will be followed by the meeting at Eastern Washington.

So next weekend will be a tough test for the 12-0 Lumberjacks.  Portland State is No. 3 in the conference and Eastern Washington is No. 1.

Dallmann is no doubt looking forward to the Saturday match.  She had 61 assists, a career high, against the Eagles last year.

(Photo: NAU Athletics)