PORTLAND, Ore. – Middle blocker Courtney Dietrich had a career-high 13 kills to go along with a .550 hitting percentage and eight blocks, and Sacramento State tallied a season-high tying 14.0 team blocks on the way to a 3-1 victory at Portland State (15-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-23) Saturday evening at the Stott Center.
With the win, the Hornets (10-8, 4-0) remain perfect in the Big Sky Conference, and are one of just two teams (Northern Arizona) in the 12-member league with a 4-0 league mark.
The Hornets have won their first four conference matches of the season for the first time since 2007. Perhaps more impressive than the record is three of those wins have come on the road. That includes victories at Weber State, Idaho State and tonight's win over the Vikings. In fact, the Hornets have won their first three Big Sky road matches for the first time since 2006.
Portland State, which had been 3-1 at home this year, dropped to 10-6 overall and 2-2 in the Big Sky. The Hornets are now 41-22 all-time against Portland State, and have won three straight meetings against the Vikings in Portland.
Sacramento State, which was playing the first of a five-match road trip, received major contributions from the combination of Dietrich and rightside hitter Madeline Cannon. In fact, nine of Dietrich's 13 kills came during the final two sets and she finished the match with just two errors in 20 swings.
Cannon had 14 kills, two aces, three blocks and a .407 hitting percentage. Cannon was nearly unstoppable in the fourth set, totalling five kills in six swings (.833 hit%). With the Hornets trailing, 23-22, in the fourth, Cannon helped key a 3-0 run to close the match after her kill tied things at 23-23, and then she combined with Brie Gathright on a block to give the Hornets a 24-23 lead. A PSU attack error ended the set and match.
"Portland State is a steady and well coached team, and I was very happy how we fought hard and competed tonight," Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. "We played really good defense, especially in the third and fourth sets, and made it hard on Portland State.
Courtney (Dietrich) and Maddie (Cannon) took over during those final two sets. They both provided a lot off offense, which included some extremely important kills."
Sacramento State's 14.0 team blocked match a season best, originally set at New Mexico State. Not only did Dietrich provide eight blocks, but setter Kennedy Kurtz matched her career high with six stuffs. Gathright added six blocks, none more important than the combo stuff with Cannon at 23-23 in the fourth set.
The Hornets hit .271 for the match, and, after hitting just .097 in a rough first set, Sacramento State hit .375, .333 and .256, respectively, over the final three frames. Portland State had seven more kills (62-55) than the Hornets, but Sacramento State was able to counter by seemingly winning all of the big points. That included the Hornets closing the third set on a 7-0 run after trailing, 20-18. Julia Wright served six of those final seven points, and Dietrich accounted for three of the team's final four points of the frame with kills.
Outside hitter Shannon Boyle posted her 10th double-double of the season with 10 kills, 10 digs and three blocks. Outside hitter Mikaela Nocetti added eight kills and six digs, and Morgan Stanley had six kills and a .312 hitting percentage. Not only did Kurtz have six blocks, but the junior setter also accounted for 48 assists, one ace and 10 digs. Libero Lexie Skalbeck had 16 digs, seven of which came during the fourth and final set.
Portland State, which finished the match hitting .219, was led by Pati Anae's 20 kills and 16 digs while Sarah Brennan finished with 17 kills and a .342 hitting percentage.
Sacramento State will play a pair of road matches next week on Thursday at North Dakota and Saturday at Northern Colorado.
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