BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- Sacramento State's defense combined for 59 digs and limited CSU Bakersfield to a .087 hitting percentage as the Hornets swept the Roadrunners, 25-12, 25-16, 25-21, in non-conference volleyball action on Tuesday evening at the Icardo Center.
The Hornets, who were playing for the fourth time in five days, improved to 4-3 on the young season. Despite playing without starting rightside hitter Madeline Cannon for the fourth straight match, Sacramento State had little trouble with a CSU Bakersfield squad (1-6) that was playing its home opener. In fact, the Hornets' largest deficit of the evening was 1-0 early in the second set, and the match ended in a swift one hour and 26 minutes.
Sacramento State's defense averaged 19.7 digs per set while holding the Roadrunners to just 31 kills with 20 errors in 127 swings. CSUB hit -.068 and .087 in the first two sets, respectively. Four different Hornets recorded double figures in digs, comprised of libero Lexie Skalbeck (15), setter Kennedy Kurtz (11), and outside hitters Mikaela Nocetti (11) and Shannon Boyle (10). In addition, the Hornets had eight aces as Nocetti, Boyle and rightside hitter Morgan Stanley each had two aces.
Bakersfield had trouble with Sacramento State's middle blockers as the combination of Brie Gathright (eight kills, .538 hitting percentage) and Courtney Dietrich (five kills, four blocks, .385 hitting percentage) both hit for high percentages. In fact, the duo combined for 13 kills with just one error in 26 attacks, good for a .462 hitting percentage. Dietrich, who entered the match as the Big Sky's leader in hitting percentage, has now hit better than .350 in all seven contests and is hitting .475 this season. Gathright's eight kills and .538 hitting percentage were both career highs.
"This evening was a total team effort, and our defense, passing and serving were very good," Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. "Our middles (Gathright, Dietrich) were on fire, especially during the first two sets. This was one of our best defensive efforts of the year; we were able to dig a lot of balls, win some long rallies and take the wind out of Bakersfield's sails."
The Hornets opened the first set on a 6-1 run and were never threatened while also using an early 6-0 spurt to take control of the second set. Despite the Roadrunners keeping things close in the third set, Sacramento State never trailed in the frame. With the Hornets leading just 22-21, the team ended the match on a 3-0 run which included two kills from Stanley sandwiched around a Stanley ace.
Sacramento State, which hit .248 and had just 11 errors in 113 swings, also had 6.0 team blocks and limited CSU Bakersfield to just one ace the entire evening.
Boyle (10 kills, 10 digs) continued her strong play after missing a good chunk of last season with injury, posting double-figure kills for the sixth straight match while also registering her fourth straight double-double. Nocetti added nine kills, 11 digs and two aces, and Stanley had seven kills and eight digs. It was Boyle (10), Nocetti (9), Gathright (8), Stanley (7) and Dietrich (5) who combined for all 39 of the Hornets' kills.
For Bakersfield, Carol Grasso led the way with 10 kills, but she was limited to a .121 hitting percentage.
The Hornets, who have played all seven matches thus far away from home, will now turn their attention to the Borderland Invitational later this week. Sacramento State will play both New Mexico State and Arizona on Friday in Las Cruces, N.M., followed by a matchup at UTEP on Saturday.
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