GRAND FORKS, N.D.-- Senior Lisa Parlich helped host North Dakota to an impressive 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-18) sweep of Northern Arizona Thursday evening at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. The senior generated 15 kills on just 22 swings to clinch a bye into the semifinal round in next week's Big Sky Conference Tournament.
The win also leaves North Dakota with a chance to win at least a share of the league's regular season title Saturday against Southern Utah.
It was the home team in control from the onset. In the first set, UND (21-10, 16-3 Big Sky) took NAU out of system early to set the tone for the night. North Dakota had a pair of service aces in the first six points and raced out to a quick 5-1 edge to prompt a Lumberjack timeout. UND never trailed in the set, hitting at a .393 clip, without an attack error, and won handily, 25-15.
The second set was more of the same. After NAU (19-9, 13-6) took a slight 9-8 lead, UND went on an 8-1 tear that saw four attack errors from the Lumberjacks, including two on blocks with Lisa Parlich involved. The senior was the story Thursday, killing seven balls in that second frame alone to help keep any comeback at bay. North Dakota would take the set, 25-16, with the final point a smash from the Delavan, Wis. native that ushered UND into the locker room at intermission with a cushy 2-0 lead.
In the third, another long stretch had NAU searching for answers on slowing a UND team seemingly destined to position itself for its first Big Sky title. Those answers never came as North Dakota turned a 10-10 score into a 17-10 edge and eventually wrapped up at least a two-seed in next week's league tourney with a 25-18 win.
UND hit .309 for the match and got eight kills from Anna Pioske and seven more from Lexi Robinson. Ronni Munkeby added six kills, two aces and three blocks. Setter Nikki Husfeldt produced 32 assists and eight digs for North Dakota.
NAU (19-9, 13-6) was led by Sydney Kemper's seven kills while Payton Bock chipped in six.
North Dakota ends its regular season Saturday with a 4:00 p.m. match against Southern Utah at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. UND will honor its three seniors (Ellen Krueger, Ronni Munkeby and Lisa Parlich), who will be playing in their final home match.
NOTES: Lauren Clarke had nine digs to put her over 1,000 in her career-- the only sophomore to do so in UND history ... Parlich's 15 kills puts her 33 shy of 1,000 in her career ... UND can do no worse than the No. 2 seed in the league tourney and can clinch at least a share of the regular season title with a win Saturday ... UND would need at least one Portland State loss to capture it outright.