LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- Sacramento State found itself on the losing end of yet another close match, this time falling in five sets to New Mexico State (25-22, 16-25, 27-25, 24-26, 16-14) in the first round of the Borderland Volleyball Invitational on Friday afternoon at the Pan American Center.
The Hornets, who play Arizona later today (4 p.m. PDT) in the second round of the tournament, saw their overall record fall to 4-4. Sacramento State has dropped four of its last five matches, but could just as easily be sitting at 7-1 rather than 4-4. All four of those losses have come over the last eight days in which the Hornets have dropped extremely close matches against UNLV, Hofstra and now New Mexico State (6-2).
Close sets have not gone the Hornets way of late, as the team has lost eight of its last nine sets that were decided by two points. That includes two-point losses in a pair of sets at UNLV, one against Cal State Northridge, three vs. Hofstra and two more against New Mexico State.
The Hornets may have lost today's match in the third set after blowing leads of 18-12 and 23-19, not to mention set points at 24-23 and 25-24.
Sacramento State held statistical advantages over New Mexico State in kills (72-63), hitting percentage (.233-.182) and blocks (14.0-13.0). In fact, the Hornets outscored the Aggies in today's match in total points.
In the fifth set, the Hornets never led but used a 7-4 run to tie the frame at 14-14. However, back-to-back blocks from the Aggies ended the set and match.
Sacramento State's Shannon Boyle finished with her fifth straight double-double and seventh consecutive match with double figures in kills as she had 18 kills and 10 digs. She was joined in double-figure kills by fellow outside hitter Morgan Stanley (17 kills, 9 digs, 4 blocks) and rightside hitter Madeline Cannon (15 kills, 5 blocks). Cannon returned to the lineup after missing the previous four matches with injury.
Middle blocker Brie Gathright remained hot, finishing with career highs in kills (9), hitting percentage (.615) and blocks (10). Over the last four matches, Gathright is hitting .451 with averages of 2.00 kills and 1.36 blocks per set. Fellow middle Courtney Dietrich has now hit above .300 in every match this year, finishing with eight kills, four blocks and a .316 hitting percentage. Setter Kennedy Kurtz had five kills, an .833 hitting percentage, 52 assists and 11 digs.
The Hornets' 14.0 team blocks were easily a season high, as Gathright (10), Cannon (5), Dietrich (4) and Stanley (4) all had nice block totals. Libero Lexie Skalbeck had a season-best 24 digs, also a match high among players from both teams.
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