SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State outside hitters and each had 17 kills, and both and added 10 blocks to help the Hornets to a must-win, five-set victory (32-30, 25-23, 23-25, 18-25, 15-5) over Montana State on Thursday evening at Colberg Court.
The Hornets (11-18, 7-12) needed to win tonight to keep their playoff hopes alive. A loss and they would have been eliminated from playoff contention. The top six teams in the 11-member Big Sky Conference advance to the league's postseason tournament, and there is a three-way battle for the sixth and final playoff spot between Montana State (8-11), Sacramento State (7-12) and Southern Utah (7-12).
Only one match remains in the regular season for all three teams, and Montana State still holds their own destiny. The Hornets will host Montana on Saturday, Southern Utah will host North Dakota on Saturday, and Montana State will travel to Montana on Monday. The remaining three scenarios for clinching the sixth spot are as follows:
1. Montana State clinches a playoff spot with a win on Monday over Montana.
2. Sacramento State clinches a playoff spot with a win over Montana on Saturday AND a Montana State loss to Montana on Monday.
3. Southern Utah clinches a playoff spot with a win over North Dakota on Saturday AND a Sacramento State loss to Montana on Saturday AND a Montana State loss to Montana on Monday.
This year's Big Sky Tournament will take place Nov. 23-24 in Greeley, Colo.
Sacramento State moved into its current position by winning each of its last two conference matches while Montana State has dropped four straight. Including their win in Bozeman earlier this year, the Hornets swept the season series against Montana State, giving Sacramento State the tiebreaker should both teams finish with 8-12 records. Should the Hornets, Bobcats and Southern Utah all finish with 8-12 records, the Hornets own that tiebreaker as well.
Tonight's match was a battle from the opening serve as the Hornets grinded out nail-biting wins in the both the first and second sets. MSU battled back to take the third and fourth frames and force a decisive fifth set.
With their season on the line, the Hornets put together arguably their best fifth-set performance of the season, limiting Montana State to a -.125 hitting percentage in the frame while tallying 15 digs and 3.0 team blocks. Libero (7) and Currey (6) dug everything in sight, and Moss contributed three blocks. Genger, who had been held to a combined four kills during the previous two sets, had five kills and a .455 hitting percentage to help spark the fifth-set win.
The Hornets led the entire way in the fifth, jumping out to leads of 3-0 and eventually 9-3.
Montana State finished the match with a higher hitting percentage (.214-.190), and more kills (69-60) and digs (84-72), but the Hornets had 17.0 team blocks and seven aces. Three of the first four points scored in the fifth set by Sacramento State came via the block, and Genger kills accounted for four of the team's final nine points of the frame.
"Our backs have been against the wall for a while now, so we've gotten used to playing in these big matches," Sacramento State head coach said. "We've been playing extremely hard and determined over these last few weeks, and I've been very happy with our effort. We still have a shot at the playoffs and I anticipate the team will fight hard on Saturday as well."
Currey and Genger were joined in double-figures kills by Beal, who finished with her second career double-double with 16 kills and 10 blocks. Moss had five kills, 10 blocks and a team-best .286 hitting percentage. The foursome of Currey, Genger, Beal and Moss combined for 55 of the team's 60 kills. Kordic finished with 31 digs (three shy of her career high), two aces and a career-high eight assists. Middle blocker had four kills and five blocks, and setter added 44 assists, 10 digs, three blocks and two aces.
The Bobcats were led by Sarah Horton's match-best 22 kills and 17 digs, Taylar Barney had nine kills and a .571 hitting percentage, and Eli Svisco had 17 kills and 17 digs.
The Hornets' regular season finale on Saturday against Montana will start at 7 p.m. Prior to the match, Sacramento State seniors , , Currey, Genger, Kordic and Moss will be honored for their contributions to the program.