Big Sky Conference standings
POCATELLO, Idaho — Sacramento State saved a pair of match points, eventually winning the final three points of the contest on back-to-back kills from Madeline Cannon and a kill from Mikaela Nocetti to beat Idaho State, 3-2 (22-25, 25-15, 22-25, 25-12, 17-15) on Saturday evening at Reed Gym.
Not only are the Hornets 2-0 in the Big Sky Conference, but perhaps more impressive, the Hornets won back-to-back road matches in a span of 26 hours. That included last night's 3-1 win over Weber State in Ogden, Utah. Sacramento State (8-8, 2-0) is now one of just three teams in the Big Sky with a 2-0 conference record, a list which includes Eastern Washington and fellow South Division rival Northern Arizona.
Since joining the Big Sky in 1996, the Hornets had never begun the conference season with two straight road wins. That all changed tonight, and Sacramento State is now a very impressive 5-2 when playing on an opponent's home floor this season.
The Hornets return home for a matchup with Montana on Thursday at 7 p.m., but the home cooking will be brief as Sacramento State will then play five straight contests on the road.
Tonight, it took an intense fifth set that included seven lead changes and plenty of big plays. Sacramento State looked to be in control when an Idaho State attack error gave the Hornets a 10-7 lead. However, the Bengals (5-10, 0-2) immediately responded with a 5-1 run to take a 12-11 lead. Both teams traded points until Idaho State had match point at 14-13, but Shannon Boyle hit a missile off an ISU defender's arms to tie the score at 14-14. Again, ISU had a match point at 15-14, but Cannon came through with a kill to tie things at 15-15.
That was the first of two straight kills from Cannon that gave Sacramento State a 16-15 lead, and Nocetti hit a roll shot that fell between three ISU defenders to give the Hornets the win. Sacramento State had a number of key contributors in the fifth set, including Nocetti who was incredible with five kills and a .500 hitting percentage. In fact, it was Nocetti who had kills on three straight points to give the Hornets a 9-6 lead. Boyle had four kills and a .364 hitting percentage in the set, Kennedy Kurtz had five digs and eight assists, libero Lexie Skalbeck had four digs, three assists and an ace, and Cannon had two of the biggest kills of the night.
The Hornets limited Idaho State to a .186 hitting percentage, as Sacramento State had 74 digs. That included 15 digs in the final set. The Hornets finished the match hitting .256, including .393 and .323 in the final two sets, respectively.
"I was happy the way this team fought, not only tonight, but last night as well," Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. "The team won a lot of close sets and came up clutch a number of times. Tonight, we made some big defensive plays at key moments, and our serving, especially in the fourth and fifth sets, really threw Idaho State out of system. It feels very good to begin league with two road wins."
One night after establishing her career high with 16 kills, Cannon upped that mark to a personal best 17 kills tonight, which included a .351 hitting percentage and three blocks. In the Hornets' two matches this week, she averaged 3.67 kills per set to go along with a .347 hitting percentage. In addition, Kurtz continued her monster week with 52 assists, 14 digs, three kills and a .333 hitting percentage. Not only did she have the match-clinching kill last night, but she finished the week averaging 11.22 assists and 3.11 digs per set while hitting a team-high .467.
Joining Cannon in double-figure kills were outside hitters Boyle (19 kills, 13 digs) and Nocetti (11 kills, six digs). Boyle recorded her second straight double-double and team-high ninth of the season. Nocetti had double digit kills for the second straight night and fourth time this year. One night after digging a career-best 32 balls, Skalbeck had 23 more digs to go along with a career-high tying nine assists.
Middle blocker Courtney Dietrich had five kills, four blocks and a .308 hitting percentage, and middle Brie Gathright added five kills, two blocks and a .364 hitting percentage. Morgan Stanley tallied six kills and Brigitte Murdock had two assists and seven digs.
Idaho State's Chloe Hirst (23) and Abby Jensen (17) combined for 40 of the Bengals' 63 kills and Haylie Keck had a match-high 25 digs. Five different ISU players had double figures in digs and the team finished with 83.
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