Big Sky Conference standings
Video highlights and interviews
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Playing at home for the first time this month, Sacramento State used a proficient offensive attack and a solid defensive effort to sweep past Idaho, 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-18), in a Big Sky Conference volleyball matchup Thursday evening at the Nest.
With the victory, the Hornets, who were playing their first home match since Sept. 29, improved to 12-11 overall and 6-3 in the Big Sky. Tonight was the first of a season-high tying four-match homestand for Sacramento State and a stretch that will see the team play seven of its final eight regular season matches at home. The Hornets had the conference's unfriendliest schedule during the first half of league play, enduring a stretch of seven of the first eight matches on the road.
Sacramento State is now 3-3 at home this year and 2-0 against Big Sky foes. The Hornets are all alone in second place in the Big Sky's South Division, two games behind first place Northern Arizona (8-1) who also won tonight.
In addition, tonight's victory was the first over Idaho (7-14, 2-7) since a three-set win on a neutral floor in Portland on Sept. 9, 1995. Since that time, the Vandals, who joined the Big Sky in 2014, had won three straight meetings over Sacramento State. Idaho won conference matchups in 2014 and 2015 against the Hornets.
Sacramento State had 14 more kills than Idaho (41-27) while committing just 11 errors in 108 attacks, good for a proficient .278 hitting percentage. While the offense was solid, it was the Hornet defense that really stood out in the victory. Sacramento State accumulated 57 digs in tonight's match, averaging a robust 19.0 per set. The Hornets entered the match 19th in the nation with an average of 16.88 digs per set, and that ranking is sure to improve after tonight's effort.
A combined 30 of those digs came from outside hitter Mikaela Nocetti and libero Lexie Skalbeck who both finished with 15 digs. Outside hitter Shannon Boyle and setter Kennedy Kurtz both had eight digs and Brigitte Murdock added seven digs. The defensive effort helped erase any kind of Idaho offensive attack as the Vandals were limited to a .092 hitting percentage, the fourth time this season Sacramento State has limited the opposition to a sub-.100 mark. Only one Idaho player finished with more than six kills, and that was eight from Kaela Straw.
Offensively for the Hornets, it was rightside hitter Madeline Cannon posting a match-best 11 kills to go along with a .381 hitting percentage, two aces and a block. Nocetti posted her fourth double-double of the season with 10 kills and 15 digs, Boyle had eight kills and eight digs, and Kurtz had five kills, a .714 hitting percentage, 32 assists, eight digs and two blocks.
Middle blocker Courtney Dietrich had four kills and hit .571, lifting her season hitting percentage to .352. Middle blocker Brie Gathright added three kills and two blocks, and Skyler Takeda finished with an ace. Five different Hornets had aces tonight.
The Hornets continue their homestand on Saturday against Eastern Washington at 7 p.m. Sacramento State will host Northern Arizona and Southern Utah next week.
NOTES -- Tonight was Kids Day, as every Sacramento State player signed autographs for fans after the match.
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