GREELEY, Colo. -- In a place the Hornets hadn't won since 2006, Sacramento State finally got over the hump with a 3-1 victory (25-22, 19-25, 25-21, 25-23) over Northern Colorado in a Big Sky Conference volleyball matchup Saturday evening at Bank of Colorado Arena.
The Hornets hadn't beaten the Bears in Greeley since Nov. 11, 2006, and in the process, snapped an eight-match losing streak on Northern Colorado's home floor. Sacramento State (11-9, 5-1) continues to play well away from home, improving its record to 4-1 on the road against league foes and 7-3 overall on the road this season. In fact, the Hornets are a 15-13 fifth set loss to North Dakota away from being 6-0 in the Big Sky and 5-0 on the road against league opposition.
Sacramento State is now one of just three teams in the 12-member Big Sky with 5-1 records, including fellow South Division rival Northern Arizona, and North Dakota in the North Division. What makes the Hornets' 5-1 record even more impressive is five of those six matches have come on the road. Sacramento State is currently in the middle of a five-match road trip, and a grueling stretch that will see the team play seven of its first eight Big Sky matches on the road. However, the Hornets have turned what could have been a negative into a positive, setting themselves up nicely for the rest of the season as Sacramento State will play seven of its final eight league matches at home.
Sacramento State was able to beat a Northern Colorado squad (10-8, 4-2) that had won four straight, including a three-set sweep of Portland State on Thursday night. Prior to this evening, the Bears' only conference loss came at home to Northern Arizona in four sets.
The Hornets' Madeline Cannon continued to thrive in Big Sky play, finishing tonight with a match-high 16 kills, and season highs in both hitting percentage (.483) and blocks (6). She had just two errors in 29 swings, and tallied six kills, two blocks and a .500 hitting percentage in a grinder of a fourth set. In conference play, Cannon, a rightside hitter, is averaging 3.52 kills per set to go along with a .354 hitting percentage. In addition, the third-year senior has now posted at least 14 kills in five of the Hornets' six Big Sky matches.
Cannon was part of a Hornet trio consisting of Shannon Boyle (15 kills, 9 digs) and Mikaela Nocetti (12 kills, 11 digs, 3 blocks) that combined for 43 of Sacramento State's 57 kills. The Hornets hit just .232, but finished with 13.0 team blocks and limited Northern Colorado to a .211 hitting percentage. Two nights after posting a season-high 11 service errors, Sacramento State had just four service errors this evening. The Hornets also hit better than .250 in its three victorious sets.
The Hornets opened the first set on a 6-0 run and never trailed during the frame, and closed the third set on a 6-3 run. In the fourth, and what proved to be the final set, Sacramento State overcame a 21-19 deficit by finishing on a 6-2 run. During that spurt, Boyle (2), Cannon (2) and Nocetti (1) each had kills, and it was a Nocetti swing off a set from Kennedy Kurtz at 24-23 that ended the match.
Kurtz finished with 49 assists and 10 digs, and middle blocker Brie Gathright was one kill shy of her career high after tallying eight kills to go along with a match-best seven blocks. Libero Lexie Skalbeck led all players with 18 digs, Brigitte Murdock added eight digs, and middle blocker Courtney Dietrich had four kills, three blocks and a .273 hitting percentage.
Northern Colorado was led by Timarie Nymeyer (13 kills, .435 hitting percentage) and Ashley Guthrie (8 kills, 50 assists, .500 hitting percentage). Makenna Meier posted 17 digs.
Sacramento State concludes its five-match Big Sky road trip next week with matchups on Thursday at Southern Utah and Saturday at Northern Arizona.
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