NAU ROUNDUP: Sydney Lema hired as assistant volleyball coach | local

NAU SPORTS INFORMATION

Former volleyball star in Northern Arizona, Sydney Lema, is still with the program.

Coach Ken Murphy formally announced Lema’s hiring as an assistant coach, completing his staff before the 2022 season.

“It’s exciting to have a great person like Sydney close to our program,” Murphy said. “She was a model of what we value when she was a player here, and for her to pass that on to our team now and in the future is very valuable to us. She knows a lot about the game for a younger coach, and she brings a lot of enthusiasm to the game. You can tell she’s interested in helping players get better and grow as a coach and as individuals.”

Lema spent the spring and fall seasons of 2021 as a graduate assistant on Murphy’s staff after a stellar career with the Lumberjacks from 2016 to 2019. At the end of her career, Lema finished third in program history with 1,515 counts, sixth with 3.47 counts per set and tied for the 10th with 108 aces.

Despite a host of injuries, Lema still managed to play in 436 sets — the sixth most in the program’s history — and started all but one of her 117 career games played. As a senior, Lema earned a spot on the All-Big Sky Second Team after averaging 1.81 kills and 3.72 digs per set in 2019.

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“NAU Volleyball has given me so many opportunities and I’ve been through so many things in the last six years,” said Lema. “I am so happy to continue to be a part of the program and this community, and I hope to share my experiences with our athletes as they progress through the program.”

The Peoria native was an integral member of the 2018 Big Sky Championship in Northern Arizona and the NCAA Tournament team. Also that season, Lema hit .294 and totaled six kills and 19 digs in Florida’s monumental disturbance of No. 8 in Northern Arizona.

Since finishing her career, Lema has spent the past two seasons on Murphy’s staff as a graduate assistant. During the recently completed Fall 2021 season, Lema took on an expanded role, working directly with the team’s passing and defense. Under her leadership, Millie O’Ketter was ranked fourth in the Big Sky with 3.89 digs per set overall. As a team, the Lumberjacks also allowed the second fewest aces (1.38 per set, 76 total) in league games.

Lema has previous coaching experience with the Revolution Volleyball Academy 18 Adidas and 16 Adidas teams in 2019-20, while also assisting at a number of high school and club camps in Arizona and Colorado.

“I’ve learned so much from (Murphy) playing for him already, so being on the other side now is a different dynamic, but it’s really great,” Lema said. “He’s such a great person and I’ve always looked up to him. He has a lot to offer and it means a lot that I can stay here, work with him and keep growing.”

Lema graduated in Northern Arizona in the spring of 2020 with her bachelor’s degree in college studies and minors in biology and health and wellness coaching. A four-time Golden Eagle Scholar-Athlete Award recipient and three-time Big Sky All-Academic honoree, Lema completed her master’s degree in human relations in December.

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