LAS VEGAS — Sacramento State hit for a high percentage (.288), but dropped three sets by two points in a 3-1 (29-27, 21-25, 26-24, 25-23) loss to Hofstra in the final round of the Rebel Volleyball Challenge on Saturday afternoon at Cox Pavilion.
The Hornets, who played all three matches without one of their top players (senior rightside hitter Madeline Cannon), concluded the tournament with an 0-3 record. Making the tournament even more frustrating is Sacramento State went 0-6 in sets that were decided by two points during the two-day event. That includes dropping two sets by two points in a 3-1 loss to host UNLV, one set in a 3-0 loss to Cal State Northridge, and three sets in today's defeat.
Sacramento State will now take a 3-3 record into next week when the Hornets play four more matches away from home against CSU Bakersfield, New Mexico State, Arizona and UTEP. The match with UTEP on Saturday will mark the 10th straight contest away from home to start the season for the Hornets.
Sacramento State and Hofstra were playing each other for the first time since 1995, and the Hornets had been 4-0 against the Pride prior to today's loss.
The Hornets, once again, got a big contribution from senior middle blocker Courtney Dietrich who finished the match with eight kills, four blocks and a .667 hitting percentage. In fact, Dietrich has a good chance to be named to the all-tournament team when selections are made tonight as she finished the tournament with a .500 hitting percentage (19-2-34) and averages of 1.73 kills and 0.73 blocks per set. Overall this season, the fourth-year senior is hitting a robust .493.
In the first set of today's match, the Hornets nearly overcame a 21-16 deficit, eventually saving four set points and coming up with a set point of their own at 27-26, but Hofstra won the final three points of the frame. The Hornets hit .319 in the set and got at least four kills from three different players.
After winning the second set, Sacramento State found itself trailing, 21-17, in the third before making a late push to tie things at 24-24 before Hofstra ripped off the next two points to win. The Hornets trailed, 23-20, in the fourth set before a Dietrich kill eventually cut the deficit to 24-23, but Hofstra's Nanishka Perez had a kill on match point to secure the victory.
For the Hornets, outside hitter Shannon Boyle finished with 15 kills and a career-high 21 digs, outside hitter Mikaela Nocetti had 16 kills, seven digs and three blocks, and rightside hitter Morgan Stanley added 10 kills, three blocks and a .280 hitting percentage. Stanley shifted from outside to rightside hitter during all three tournament matches because of the Cannon injury.
Setter Kennedy Kurtz had six kills, a .714 hitting percentage, 49 assists and seven digs, and Brie Gathright had a career-high eight kills to go along with five blocks and a .278 hitting percentage.
The Hornets hit at least .300 in three of the four sets and finished the match with a .288 hitting percentage, but still could not get over the hump. In fact, Sacramento State had just 17 errors in 163 total swings. Hofstra hit .257 and had three more kills (67-64) and digs (70-67) than the Hornets. Sacramento State did outback the Pride, 9.0-5.0.
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