CHENEY, Wash. -- After winning the first two sets handily, Sacramento State dropped the final three frames, including 15-12 in the fifth set, while falling to Eastern Washington, 3-2 (15-25, 17-25, 25-18, 25-20, 15-12), in a Big Sky Conference volleyball contest Thursday evening at Reese Court.
The match marked the conference opener for both teams, and beginning tonight, each of the final 20 matches of the regular season for Sacramento State will be against a league opponent.
The Hornets hit .323 and .435 in the first two sets, respectively, before dropping off substantially in the final three sets with hitting percentages of -.026, .227 and .080. In that fifth set, Sacramento State had just five kills and three errors in 25 total attacks. The Eagles had a pair of team blocks in the frame and seemed to get their hands on a number of Hornet attacks at the net, slowing the ball enough to keep in play. EWU had nine kills, including four from Allie Schumacher, who finished with four kills, a .429 hitting percentage and five digs in the set.
The Eagles never trailed in the final set, opening up a lead as large as 9-3 before the Hornets tied things at 9-9 after going on a 6-0 run. That's when Schumacher took over, tallying four kills during a 6-3 run to close the set and match.
The Hornets had an 18-17 lead in the fourth set, but the Eagles closed that frame on 8-2 run.
With the loss, Sacramento State dropped to 5-7 overall and 0-1 in the conference. The Hornets travel to Portland on Saturday to take on Portland State at 7 p.m. The Vikings were selected to finish first in the Big Sky preseason coaches poll. With tonight's victory, Eastern Washington improved to 4-8 overall and 1-0 in the Big Sky.
Statistically speaking, the match was nearly even between the two teams in kills, hitting percentage, assists and aces, but the Eagles did hold an advantage in digs (72-65) and team blocks (12.0-8.0).
For Sacramento State, freshman Morgan Stanley (15), sophomore Sloan Lovett (14) and senior Kayla Beal (14) each recorded double figures in kills. Beal, who missed the previous three matches with a back injury, returned tonight to record nine digs, two blocks and a .243 hitting percentage to go along with the 14 kills. Lovett also had 12 digs for her second double-double of the season, and Stanley hit .273.
Freshman Courtney Dietrich had seven kills, two blocks and a season-best .500 hitting percentage (7-2-10), setter Hannah Hettinga added 46 assists, two aces and 14 digs, and libero Katie Aprile had a team-high 18 digs. All but four of Sacramento State's 54 kills came from Stanley, Lovett, Beal or Dietrich.
For Eastern Washington, Schumacher finished with a match-high 24 kills to go along with 11 digs and a .333 hitting percentage. Melissa Waelter chipped in 14 kills and Ryann Ensrud led all players with 22 digs.