OGDEN, Utah -- In a match that lasted two hours, 18 minutes, and featured 40 ties and 23 lead changes, the Sacramento State volleyball team held on for a 3-2 victory (24-26, 25-17, 29-27, 14-25, 15-12) over Weber State in a Big Sky Conference matchup Friday evening at Swenson Gym.
The win was a big one as it allowed the Hornets to improve to 9-9 overall and inch above the .500 mark in conference play at 4-3. Sacramento State, which won for just the second time this season on an opponent's home floor, now sits in a two-way tie for fifth place in the 11-team Big Sky standings with 13 matches remaining. At the end of the regular season, the top six teams in the conference qualify for the league's postseason tournament.
Overall, the Hornets have now won four of their last five matches. Sacramento State has a seven-match winning streak against Weber State dating back to 2010, and owns a 30-8 advantage in the all-time series over the Wildcats. The loss dropped Weber State to 5-17 overall and 1-7 in the Big Sky this season.
The fifth set alone featured eight ties and three lead changes as Sacramento State took a 6-2 lead only to see Weber State bounce back to lead, 10-8. However, the Hornets closed the frame on a 7-2 run, which included a pair of kills from Kayla Beal and Sloan Lovett, a solo stuff from setter Hannah Hettinga and an ace from Lovett at 13-12. Beal, who closed things on match point with a kill, was unbelievable in the fifth as she finished the frame with five kills without an error in eight attacks, good for a .625 hitting percentage.
"In order to qualify for the Big Sky Tournament, we need to win some matches on the road," Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. "We've struggled at times on the road this year, so this was a big win. Swenson Gym is a challenging environment to play, and Weber State played well and with a lot of energy. But we hung in there, played strong defense, refused to get rattled and our team was up for the challenge."
The third set, which Sacramento State won, 29-27, featured 16 ties and 11 lead changes. The Hornets saved a set point at 26-25 before a Hettinga kill at 28-27 gave the Hornets a 2-1 lead in sets. In the first set, Weber State saved a set point at 24-23 before running off three straight points to take the frame.
In a match that was nearly even statistically, the Hornets limited Weber State to a .154 hitting percentage and found a way to win despite 12 Wildcat service aces. Sacramento State hit just .198, and tonight marked the first time all year the team has been victorious when hitting below the .200 mark.
Beal's 19 kills were two more than any other player on the floor as she also finished with a .286 hitting percentage, eight digs and a solo block. Lovett added 17 kills, two aces and eight digs, while freshman middle blocker Courtney Dietrich had nine kills and a team-high .438 hitting percentage. Hettinga had 46 assists, 10 digs and four blocks, and middle blocker Chelcy Motes had a match-high tying seven blocks. Four of those blocks were solo stuffs, including one in the fifth set to tied the score at 7-7.
Libero Katie Aprile had a match-high tying 21 digs, and Morgan Stanley added six kills and seven digs. The Hornets finished with just four aces, including a pair from Lovett.
For Weber State, three players finished with double figures in kills, comprised of Rebecca Fuchs (16), Audrey Biggs (13) and Megan Bean (11). Only three Wildcats finished with a hitting percentage above .128.
The Hornets return to action tomorrow for a match at Idaho State (6 p.m. PDT) before beginning a four-match homestand next week.