VOLLEYBALL DROPS FOUR-SET GRINDER TO FIRST-PLACE NORTH DAKOTA

VOLLEYBALL DROPS FOUR-SET GRINDER TO FIRST-PLACE NORTH DAKOTA

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State's Morgan Stanley had 17 kills and 10 digs, and Sloan Lovett added 14 kills and a .342 hitting percentage, but it was not enough in the Hornets' 3-1 loss (25-16, 13-25, 25-19, 28-26) to North Dakota in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Thursday evening at Colberg Court.

The loss dropped the Hornets to 6-20 overall and 1-10 in the Big Sky while North Dakota, which remains in a three-way tie for first place in the Big Sky's North Division, improved to 20-8 and 8-3 in the conference. UND also won its fifth straight match against the Hornets dating back to the 2012 season.

Sacramento State looked to be in control in the fourth set after taking a 19-14 lead, but North Dakota stormed back to tie the score at 21-21. After a kill from Lovett gave the Hornets a 22-21 lead, UND caught a huge break when Lovett ripped a ball that defensive specialist Skylar Hildebrand dug over the net and over each of the Hornets' six players and landed on the line for a UND point. Rather than the Hornets taking a 23-21 lead, the score was tied at 22-22.

Sacramento State would eventually save two match points at 22-24 and 23-24, and take a 26-25 lead, but North Dakota finished the set on a 3-0 run, punctuated by a combo block from Anna Pioske and Chelsea Moser on match point.

Statistically, the match was nearly even as North Dakota held small advantages in kills (56-53) and digs (76-74) while both teams had 9.0 team blocks. UND hit .219 while the Hornets hit .195. Sacramento State had five aces compared to three for North Dakota.

Stanley recorded her third straight double-double and fifth in the last seven contests after finishing with a match-high tying 17 kills to go along with 10 digs, two blocks and a .273 hitting percentage. Eight of those kills came in the fourth set as she accounted for half the team's kills in the frame.

Lovett's 14 kills came with just one error in 38 attacks, four digs, four blocks and two aces. Her .342 hitting percentage was the best mark among players with more than two kills. Nine of those kills came during the final two sets of the match.

Also for the Hornets, libero Lexie Skalbeck tied her career high with 22 digs, a mark she set earlier this season against Morgan State. The 22 digs were also a match best and the sophomore added six assists and one ace. Middle blocker Madeline Cannon had seven kills and four blocks, middle Courtney Dietrich had a team-high five blocks and outside hitter Lauren Aikels tallied seven kills, two digs and two blocks. Freshman setter Kennedy Kurtz posted 42 assists, one ace and 16 digs. The 16 digs were her third highest output of the season.

For North Dakota, Lexi Robinson accounted for 17 of the team's 56 kills as she also had a .286 hitting percentage and a team-high 20 digs. The trio of Faith Dooley, Felicia Ulrich and Pioske had nine kills apiece and libero McKenzie Hart added 17 digs.

Sacramento State has just five matches remaining on the regular season schedule, and returns to action this weekend when the team travels north to face Portland State on Saturday at noon.