GREELEY, Colo. -- Andrea Spaustat had 17 kills, four blocks and a .387 hitting percentage to lead Northern Colorado to a three-set sweep (27-25, 25-17, 25-15) of Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference volleyball matchup Thursday evening at the Butler-Hancock Pavilion.
With the loss, the Hornets (5-9, 1-4) dropped their fourth straight overall, and fell for the sixth straight year when playing on Northern Colorado's home floor. The Bears, who won the Big Sky's regular season and tournament championships a year ago, improved to 11-3 overall and 4-1 in the league.
The Hornets hit just .045 in tonight's match and continued to struggle with offensive efficiency. Sacramento State used four outside hitters in tonight's match, and the quartet combined to hit for a negative percentage with 13 kills and 17 errors in 74 total attacks. Overall, the Hornets are hitting just .124 in five conference matches this year. It hasn't helped that starting outside hitter , who was leading the conference in kills through the first two weeks of the season, missed her fourth straight match with a lower leg injury.
Despite the low hitting percentage, Sacramento State had a pair of opportunities to take the early momentum but squandered two set points in the first frame. The Hornets had leads of 24-23 and 25-24 but a Kelly Arnold kill and a Hornet attack error, respectively, allowed the Bears to turn back both set points. Another Sacramento State attack error and a Spaustat kill ended the set at 27-25. The Hornets jumped out to a 13-9 lead in the second frame and an 8-3 lead in the third, but Northern Colorado rallied to win both sets.
The Bears finished the match hitting .189, and had statistical advantages over Sacramento State in kills (42-31), assists (37-28), digs (61-54) and team blocks (7.0-5.0). The Hornets, who entered the night ranked 30th in the nation in aces per set, finished without an ace for the first time all season. In addition, the team's five team blocks tied for the second lowest total of the year.
Sacramento State was led by rightside hitter 's nine kills, 10 digs, two blocks and .200 hitting percentage. Beal fell just one kill shy of finishing with double digits in kills for the fifth straight match. had nine kills and seven digs, posted a team-high 15 digs, and had five kills and team highs in both hitting percentage (.500) and blocks (3).
For Northern Colorado, Spaustat's 17 kills came with just five errors in 31 attacks while she also had all three of the Bears' aces. Arnold had 10 kills and 10 digs, Merideth Johnson led all players with 17 digs, and Brianna Strong finished with seven kills and a .438 hitting percentage.
The Hornets conclude their four-game road trip on Saturday with a matchup against North Dakota at noon PDT. Saturday will mark the first time that Sacramento State has ever played in Grand Forks, N.D.
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