VOLLEYBALL FALLS TO CAL POLY; MUSTANGS CROWNED SACRAMENTO STATE INVITE CHAMPIONS
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Tournament MVP Megan McConnell had 14 kills, and fellow all-tournament selections Chelsea Hardin had a match-high 18 kills and Taylor Gruenewald added 13 kills to lead Cal Poly to a five-set win (19-25, 25-15, 25-23, 21-25, 15-3) over the Hornets in the third and final round of the Sacramento State Volleyball Invitational Saturday evening.
With the victory, Cal Poly (4-2 overall) completed the tournament with a perfect 3-0 record and was crowned tourney champions. Sacramento State (5-2 overall) finished the tournament with a 1-2 record, while San Jose State and Central Connecticut also finished with 1-2 marks. The Hornets beat Central Connecticut earlier this afternoon.
For Sacramento State, sophomore Sloan Lovett was named to the all-tournament team for the second straight week after leading the team with 3.00 kills per set during tournament play to go along with 1.83 digs and 0.42 aces. The complete all-tournament team can be found below the story.
Had Sacramento State won tonight's match, the Hornets would have claimed the tournament title. However, Cal Poly dominated in a fifth set which saw the Mustangs hit a ridiculous .867 with 13 kills and no errors in 15 attacks. Five different Cal Poly players had kills in the set, including four each from Hardin and Hannah Schleis.
"I saw a lot of progress in the team from last week to this week, especially from yesterday to today," Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. "Yesterday, it was a struggle against an up-tempo team (San Jose State), but we played much better defense today and blocked better against up-tempo attacks. Overall, I was pleased with our effort during the tournament, and we are getting better."
The team that won the first point won all five sets, and unfortunately for the Hornets, that included a third set where Sacramento State had its chances. In fact, the Hornets held a 20-19 lead in the frame before Cal Polly ripped off a 5-2 run to take a 24-22 lead. A Lovett kill drew the Hornets within, 24-23, but the Mustangs' Gruenewald had perhaps the biggest kill of the match to give Cal Poly the frame.
The Mustangs had more kills (66-46), aces (11-7) and digs (65-58), and hit for a higher percentage (.264-.183) than Sacramento State, and had four different players finish with at least 13 kills. That included Hardin, who hit .390 with a match-best 18 kills and just two errors in 41 attacks.
For Sacramento State, rightside hitter Kayla Beal narrowly missed a triple-double with 14 kills, 12 digs and a match-best seven blocks while Lovett added 11 kills. Sophomore Laruen Aikels came off the bench to connect for eight kills with no errors in 22 attacks, good for a team-high .364 hitting percentage. Libero Katie Aprile led everyone with 22 digs, setter Hannah Hettinga had 38 assists and a match-high tying three aces and Kendall LaVine finished with five blocks.
The Hornets, who do not play at home again until Sept. 27, return to action in three days when they travel down the Causeway for a rivalry matchup with UC Davis on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Cal Poly 3-0 (Tournament Champions)
Sacramento State 1-2
San Jose State 1-2
Central Connecticut 1-2
Megan McConnell (MVP) – Cal Poly
Chelsea Hardin – Cal Poly
Taylor Gruenewald – Cal Poly
Hanah Blume – San Jose State
Mary Alice O'Reilly – San Jose State
Sloan Lovett – Sacramento State
Heather Trueman – Central Connecticut