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Big Sky Conference standings

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Wrapping up a five-match road trip, and a stretch that saw the Hornets play seven of their first eight conference matches on the road, Sacramento State lost at Northern Arizona, 3-0 (27-25, 25-18, 25-14), on Saturday afternoon at the Rolle Activity Center.

Despite the loss, the Hornets (11-11, 5-3) should feel good about sitting at 5-3 in conference play despite the ruthless stretch that saw the team play seven of their first eight Big Sky Conference matches on the road. At the midway point of the Big Sky season, no other team in the league has played a more demanding road schedule than Sacramento State. Now, the Hornets will enjoy the conference's friendliest schedule during the second half of league play as the team will play seven of its final eight regular season matches at home.

Today also wrapped up a five-match road trip that saw the Hornets play in five different states against Portland State, North Dakota, Northern Colorado, Southern Utah and Northern Arizona, respectively. Sacramento State is now 7-5 on the road this year and 4-3 against Big Sky opposition.

The Hornets were swept for the first time in nine matches, and for the first time in league play as NAU strengthened its hold atop the Big Sky's South Division, improving to 17-4 overall and 7-1 in the league. The Hornets remain in second place, but now sit two games behind the Lumberjacks. Sacramento State will open a season-high tying four-match homestead on Thursday against Idaho at 7 p.m. inside the Nest.

In today's match, the Hornets were limited to a .087 hitting percentage, the team's third lowest output of the season. Sacramento State, which hit just .073 and .071 in the second and third sets, respectively, had 35 kills and 24 errors in 126 attacks. Only three Hornets had more than two kills and no Sacramento State player hit better than .200.

The Hornets had a chance to get the jump on NAU as both teams battled back and forth in the first set. In fact, no team led by more than two points the entire way. Sacramento State held a 19-17 lead, but the Lumberjacks responded with a 7-3 run to lead, 24-22. Sacramento State would eventually save set points at 24-22, 24-23 and 25-24, but Addy Lofstedt and Kaylie Jorgensen had back-to-back kills at 25-25 to give NAU an important first set victory.

Sacramento State's largest leads the remainder of the match were a single point at 1-0 in the second set and 8-7 in the third set.

The Hornets finished with just two aces and 3.0 team blocks as NAU led Sacramento State in kills (41-35), hitting percentage (.237-.087), aces (7-2), digs (62-57) and blocks (9.0-3.0). The Hornets' three blocks were their second lowest output of the year.

Sacramento State was led by Shannon Boyle's match-high 15 kills, Madeline Cannon had eight kills and a team-best .200 hitting percentage, and Mikaela Nocetti had five kills, 12 digs and two blocks. Libero Lexie Skalbeck had 20 digs, five more than any other player on the floor. Skalbeck continues to dig everything in conference play, as the fourth-year senior is now averaging a massive 5.70 digs per set against league foes.

Setter Kennedy Kurtz had 27 assists and nine digs. Kurtz, Courtney Dietrich and Brie Gathright each had two kills. Gathright also had two blocks.

For NAU, Jorgensen had a team-best 13 kills while Abby Akin had eight kills, five blocks and a .500 hitting percentage, and Jordan Anderson 15 digs.

The Hornets' four-match homestead will include matches against Idaho (Oct. 20), Eastern Washington (Oct. 22), Northern Arizona (Oct. 27) and Southern Utah (Oct. 29).