SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Montana's Kayla Reno had 17 kills without an error and a .486 hitting percentage to lead the Grizzlies to a three-set victory (25-17, 25-18, 25-23) over Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Friday evening at Colberg Court.
Reno was unstoppable all night as the senior outside hitter had no errors in 35 attacks, and seemingly passed every ball that was served her way perfectly. She had five kills and a .500 hitting percentage in the first set, followed by six kills and .667 in the second set, and six kills and .375 in the final frame. Fittingly, it was a Reno kill that accounted for three of Montana's final seven points at the end of a tight third frame. Her 17 kills were six more than any other player on the floor, and nine more than any member of the Grizzly squad.
Both Montana and Sacramento State entered the match in a tie for fifth place in the Big Sky standings with identical 4-4 conference records. The Grizzlies not only improved to 8-10 overall and 5-4 in the conference, they also beat the Hornets in Sacramento for just the fourth time in their program's history (4-14).
With the loss, Sacramento State (9-11, 4-5) dropped into a tie for sixth place with Eastern Washington. The top six teams in the 11-member Big Sky qualify for the league's postseason tournament, and there are just 11 matches remaining in the regular season. One of those matches comes tomorrow night as Sacramento State hosts Montana State at 7 p.m. Tomorrow is also breast cancer awareness night and fans are encouraged to wear pink.
Usually a very strong hitting team at home, the Hornets hit .204 which was the team's second lowest output of the season when playing inside the friendly confines. Sacramento State also had just two aces compared to nine service errors.
Montana had just three more kills than the Hornets (43-40), but was much more proficient, hitting for a .333 percentage. The Grizzlies also had six more digs than Sacramento State (41-35).
After dropping the first two sets, the Hornets looked to be in control of the third, jumping out to a 14-7 lead, and later 21-16. However, Montana closed the set on a 9-2 run, and the frame ended on back-to-back kills from Kelsey Schile after the set had been tied at 23-23.
For Sacramento State, sophomore outside hitter Sloan Lovett returned from a shoulder injury which forced her to miss last Saturday's match at Idaho State. She finished with a team-best 11 kills while hitting .333 and adding two blocks. Morgan Stanley had nine kills and six digs, Kayla Beal seven kills and three blocks, and Courtney Dietrich had four kills and a team-high four blocks.
Freshman Lexie Skalbeck, who was inserted into the match at libero in the third set, led the team with eight digs. Middle blocker Chelcy Motes had five kills and an .833 hitting percentage (5-0-6), and has now hit .500 or better in four of the last seven matches.
Although Reno was the story for Montana, teammate Brooke Bray had eight kills and a .538 hitting percentage and libero Megan Murphey finished with a match-best 17 digs.