MISSOULA, Mont. -- Sacramento State received a career-high 22 kills from sophomore Sloan Lovett, but it was not enough in a 3-2 loss (21-25, 25-20, 25-21, 19-25, 15-10) to Montana in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Saturday evening at the West Auxiliary Gym.
The loss was about as heartbreaking as it gets as Sacramento State (15-16, 10-10) was eliminated from Big Sky Tournament contention and the team's season comes to an end. Entering today, the Hornets needed to beat Montana OR have Northern Colorado lose to Northern Arizona, and Sacramento State would have secured the No. 6 seed in next week's Big Sky Tournament in Portland. Neither of those outcomes went the Hornets' way.
Only six teams in the 11-member league qualify for the Big Sky Tournament, and Northern Colorado will get the No. 6 seed. Both Sacramento State and Northern Colorado have 10-10 records, but the Bears win the tiebreaker by virtue of winning five of the eight sets played this year between the two teams. The Hornets beat the Bears, 3-2 in Sacramento, and Northern Colorado was victorious, 3-0, in Greeley.
Making matters even more grueling for Sacramento State was Northern Colorado won its match by the slimmest of margins in five sets. About 20 minutes after the Hornets' match ended, Northern Colorado erased a 13-12 deficit in the fifth set by winning each of the last three points to beat Northern Arizona, 25-17, 23-25, 27-25, 23-25, 15-13.
Now, instead of traveling to Portland for next week's Big Sky Tournament, the careers of Sacramento State seniors Kayla Beal, Hannah Hettinga, Chelcy Motes and Katie Aprile come to an end. The 10 conference wins matches the program's highest total in six years, but it was not enough to get the Hornets into the postseason event for the first time since 2011.
The Big Sky Tournament field is now set as Portland State, North Dakota, Idaho State, Northern Arizona, Montana and Northern Colorado will be the six seeds, respectively, next Friday-Saturday. The winner of the single-elimination tournament receives an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. Portland State and North Dakota were co-regular season champions with 17-3 league records, but the Vikings will be the No. 1 seed.
Tonight's victory for Montana (14-14, 11-8) clinched the No. 5 seed for the Grizzlies, who swept the season series over Sacramento State.
The Hornets never had a lead during the fifth set of tonight's match as Montana used a 5-0 run to take a commanding 9-4 lead. Sacramento State cut the deficit to 10-8, but would get no closer the remainder of the frame. Montana hit .389 in the set while receiving four kills from Brooke Bray and tallying blocks on three straight points during the 5-0 run.
Sacramento State finished the match with 14 more kills than Montana (68-54) and hit for nearly an identical percentage (SAC .250; UM .252), but the Griz had 15.0 team blocks and took advantage of 12 Hornet service errors. That matched Sacramento State's third most service errors of the season.
The Hornets got big performances from Lovett (career-high 22 kills), freshman Morgan Stanley (17 kills, career-high tying 14 digs, .350 hitting percentage), Motes (career-high 11 kills, .444 hitting percentage and four blocks) and Hettinga (career-high six kills, 1.000 hitting percentage and season-best 58 assists).
Lovett's 22 kills eclipsed her previous career high of 21, Motes' 11 kills surpassed her previous career high of eight, and Hettinga's six kills were two better than she's ever posted. In addition, her 58 assists were one shy of her career best. Libero Katie Aprile finished with 21 digs, one shy of her career high.
Sacramento State finished with 10.0 team blocks, and seven different Hornets finished with at least two blocks, including a career-high tying four from Hettinga. Beal had 11 digs, but finished with just six kills, matching her lowest total of the season.
For Montana, Bray finished with 19 kills and a .485 hitting percentage, Natalie Jones had seven kills, six blocks and a .545 hitting percentage, and Kelsey Schile finished with a match-best 10 blocks. Kayla Reno added 14 kills, four aces and 10 digs.
Though the Hornets lose three starters (Beal, Hettinga, Motes) and their libero (Aprile), Sacramento State will return starters Stanley and Lovett at outside hitter, as well as Courtney Dietrich at middle blocker. Middle Kendall LaVine and defensive specialist Lexie Skalbeck, who also garnered starts this year, will be back in 2014 as well.
April 8, 2014 VOLLEYBALL RELEASES ITS 2014 SCHEDULE
January 27, 2014 SACRAMENTO STATE EARNS 22 FALL BIG SKY ALL-ACADEMIC HONORS
January 24, 2014 VOLLEYBALL ADDS DIV. I TRANSFER AND LOCAL PRODUCT MADELINE CANNON
November 30, 2013 VOLLEYBALL'S HOME WINNING STREAK NAMED BIG SKY'S 16TH GREATEST MOMENT
November 28, 2013 VOLLEYBALL’S BEAL NAMED SECOND TEAM ALL-BIG SKY
November 23, 2013 VOLLEYBALL LOSES IN FIVE, ELIMINATED FROM BIG SKY TOURNAMENT CONTENTION
November 21, 2013 VOLLEYBALL ONE STEP CLOSER TO PLAYOFF SPOT AFTER WIN AT MONTANA STATE
November 20, 2013 VOLLEYBALL LOOKS TO GRAB PLAYOFF SPOT IN FINAL WEEK OF REGULAR SEASON
November 18, 2013 VOLLEYBALL SIGNS BOYLE, BROWN AND KURTZ TO LETTERS OF INTENT
November 16, 2013 VOLLEYBALL PICKS UP HUGE WIN, CRUSHES WEBER STATE
November 15, 2013 VOLLEYBALL FALLS TO IDAHO STATE, WILL PLAY HOME FINALE TOMORROW
November 14, 2013 FORMER HORNET LINDSAY HAUPT NAMED THE BIG SKY'S 19TH BEST FEMALE ATHLETE
November 14, 2013 FINAL HOMESTAND FOR VOLLEYBALL WITH POSTSEASON IMPLICATIONS ON TAP
November 11, 2013 VOLLEYBALL FALLS AT NORTHERN COLORADO, STILL CLINGS TO A PLAYOFF SPOT
November 9, 2013 VOLLEYBALL FALLS IN THREE AT NORTH DAKOTA
October 31, 2013 WINNING STREAK AT FOUR AS VOLLEYBALL BEATS SOUTHERN UTAH
October 30, 2013 VOLLEYBALL LOOKS TO INCREASE WINNING STREAK THIS WEEK ON THE ROAD
October 26, 2013 HOME COURT KIND AGAIN AS VOLLEYBALL BEATS EASTERN WASHINGTON
October 25, 2013 VOLLEYBALL SECURES HUGE HOME VICTORY OVER PORTLAND STATE
October 23, 2013 VOLLEYBALL HOSTS A PAIR OF LEAGUE MATCHES THIS FRIDAY AND SATURDAY
October 19, 2013 VOLLEYBALL HITS SEASON-HIGH .398 IN FOUR-SET WIN OVER MONTANA STATE
October 18, 2013 VOLLEYBALL FALLS AT HOME TO MONTANA
October 12, 2013 VOLLEYBALL NOW 4-4 IN CONFERENCE PLAY AFTER LOSS AT IDAHO STATE
October 11, 2013 VOLLEYBALL PICKS UP FIVE-SET ROAD WIN AT WEBER STATE
October 9, 2013 VOLLEYBALL TRAVELS TO MATCHUPS AT WEBER STATE AND IDAHO STATE
October 3, 2013 VOLLEYBALL WINS FIVE-SET NAIL BITER OVER NORTHERN COLORADO
October 2, 2013 VOLLEYBALL LOOKS TO EXTEND WINNING STREAK THIS WEEK AT HOME
September 28, 2013 VOLLEYBALL DOMINATES SOUTHERN UTAH IN THREE QUICK SETS
September 27, 2013 VOLLEYBALL HITS FOR HIGH PERCENTAGE, DEFEATS NORTHERN ARIZONA
September 26, 2013 VOLLEYBALL BEGINS HOMESTAND WITH MATCHES FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT
September 21, 2013 VOLLEYBALL DROPS BIG SKY MATCHUP AT PORTLAND STATE
September 19, 2013 VOLLEYBALL LOSES FIVE-SET HEARTBREAKER TO EWU IN BIG SKY OPENER
September 18, 2013 VOLLEYBALL OPENS BIG SKY PLAY THURSDAY AT EASTERN WASHINGTON
September 14, 2013 VOLLEYBALL CONCLUDES TOURNAMENT WITH LOSS TO BOISE STATE
September 13, 2013 LOVETT’S 14 KILLS NOT ENOUGH IN VOLLEYBALL’S LOSS TO IDAHO
September 13, 2013 VOLLEYBALL OPENS TOURNAMENT WITH LOSS TO NORTH TEXAS
September 10, 2013 VOLLEYBALL TRAVELS TO UC DAVIS TONIGHT, BOISE STATE LATER THIS WEEK
September 10, 2013 VOLLEYBALL FALLS AT UC DAVIS
September 6, 2013 VOLLEYBALL STUMBLES AT HOME AGAINST SAN JOSE STATE
September 4, 2013 VOLLEYBALL HOSTS 11TH-ANNUAL SACRAMENTO STATE INVITATIONAL
September 2, 2013 LOVETT CAPS BIG WEEK WITH BIG SKY VOLLEYBALL PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS
September 1, 2013 LOVETT WITH A HUGE DAY, VOLLEYBALL NOW 3-0 AFTER WIN OVER LA SALLE
August 28, 2013 VOLLEYBALL BEGINS 2013 SEASON ON SATURDAY IN PHILADELPHIA
August 23, 2013 VOLLEYBALL HOSTS ALUMNI MATCH THIS SATURDAY
August 22, 2013 2013 VOLLEYBALL SEASON OUTLOOK