PHILADELPHIA -- Sacramento State hit .287 over two matches while limiting the opposition to a .112 hitting percentage on the way to a pair of victories in the first day of the La Salle Volleyball Invitational Saturday at Tom Gola Arena.
The Hornets began the day by erasing a 2-1 deficit to defeat Bucknell in five sets (25-27, 25-15, 20-25, 25-21, 15-8). Forty-five minutes after that match ended, Sacramento State then began its match against Lafayette which resulted in a three-set sweep (25-17, 25-19, 25-14).
The wins also allowed the volleyball program to earn the 900th win in school history. The program is now 900-381 all-tme, good for a .703 winning percentage.
The Hornets play twice more at the two-day tournament tomorrow against both host La Salle (6 a.m. PDT) and Fairleigh Dickinson (1 p.m. PDT).
Sacramento State got contributions from 11 different players today, including four freshmen and three sophomores. In fact, the Hornets started a pair of freshmen in both matches in outside hitter Morgan Stanley and middle blocker Courtney Dietrich. Freshman Lexie Skalbeck also play two sets at libero against Lafayette.
Stanley (3.00 kps, .365 hit%), sophomore outside hitter Sloan Lovett (3.12 kps, .254) and senior rightside hitter Kayla Beal (3.50 kps, .273) all finished the day averaging at least 3.00 kills per set while senior libero Katie Aprile paced the team with an average of 3.57 digs per set. Senior setter Hannah Hettinga averaged 11.50 assists per set over the two matches.
"Our players were a little nervous and we started out slowly against Bucknell," Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. "But the team responded, and got better as the match progressed. By the fourth set (against Bucknell), we were playing good defense, passing well and attacking aggressively, and that carried over into our win against Lafayette. I was happy with our overall effort today and there were a lot of positive signs from the team."
The Hornets' middle blockers attacked well, and each of the three finished the day hitting better than .420, comprised of freshmen Kendall LaVine (.556) and Dietrich (.500), and senior Chelcy Motes (.421).
"We were passing well, and that allowed us to set our middles and get them involved," Volta said. "They got into a rhythm, and all three attacked aggressively and played well."
The win over Bucknell could have been much easier, but the Hornets squandered a pair of set points at 24-23 and 25-24 in the first set before dropping the frame. In the third set, Sacramento State held a 16-12 lead before the Bison ripped off a 13-4 run to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
With the score tied at 20-20 in the fourth set, the Hornets closed on a 5-1 run, which included a pair of kills from Beal, and single kills from Lovett, Dietrich and Stanley. Sacramento State never trailed in the fifth set, and finished the frame hitting .455 compared to a .000 hitting percentage for Bucknell. The Hornets had 10 kills in the set, as five different players had two kills.
After hitting for a negative percentage in the first set, the Hornets hit at least .211 in each of the final four frames. Beal led all players with 19 kills while both Stanley and Lovett had 15 kills apiece. Aprile finished with a match-high two aces to go along with a team-best 19 digs.
In the victory over Lafayette, the Hornets were in control in all three sets as the team's largest deficit in the match was four points at 11-7 in the first frame. Sacramento State finished the contest hitting .396 as five different players had at least six kills and a .333 hitting percentage, comprised of Lovett (10 kills, .381), Beal (nine kills, .421), LaVine (seven kills, .750), Motes (six kills, .857) and Stanley (six kills, .333).
Conversely, Lafayette hit just .069 and the Leopards nearly had as many errors (23) as kills (30). The Hornets had just five errors in 91 attacks during the entire match.
NOTES -- Volta used the same starting lineup in both matches, consisting of Stanley and Lovett at outside hitter, Dietrich and Motes at middle blocker, Beal at rightside hitter, Hettinga at setter and Aprile at libero…during the final two sets against Lafayette, Skalbeck played at libero, LaVine was in at middle blocker, and sophomore Lauren Aikels played outside hitter…the Hornets are 2-0 for the first time since 2009…should Sacramento State win twice tomorrow, it would mark the program's first 4-0 start to a season since 1995…that squad finished the year 35-4.