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VOLLEYBALL EXTENDS HOMECOURT DOMINANCE IN THE BIG SKY WITH 3-0 WIN OVER EWU

VOLLEYBALL EXTENDS HOMECOURT DOMINANCE IN THE BIG SKY WITH 3-0 WIN OVER EWU

Big Sky Conference standings

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State has not lost a Big Sky Conference match at home since the 2014 season, and that homecourt dominance continued tonight in a three-set sweep of Eastern Washington (25-17, 25-20, 25-20) on Saturday evening.

With the victory, the Hornets, who were playing the second leg of a season-high tying four-match homestand, improved to 13-11 overall and 7-3 in the Big Sky. Eastern Washington dropped to 10-9 overall and 5-5 in the conference.

Sacramento State is 2-0 thus far on a homestand that will see the team play next week against Northern Arizona on Thursday and Southern Utah on Saturday.

The Hornets remain in a tie for second place in the Big Sky's South Division, two games behind Northern Arizona (9-1). Idaho State also has a 7-3 league record after defeating Northern Colorado in five sets tonight. The Hornets have now won 11 straight home matches against Big Sky competition dating back to last season. The 2015 team went a perfect 8-0 at home against league opposition.

Sacramento State is also 32-17 all-time in its long-standing rivalry with Eastern Washington, including a 22-6 mark when the two teams play on the Hornets' home floor.

The Hornets brought the defense yet again tonight, finishing with 54 digs and 9.0 team blocks. The nation's 18th-best team in digs per set also limited Eastern Washington to a .132 hitting percentage, the Eagles' sixth lowest mark of the season. Mix in six Hornet aces and 36 kills with just 11 errors in 115 attacks (.217), and you have a dominating effort against an Eastern Washington squad that was swept for just the second time in league play.

"We started the match extremely well, and once again we were led by our defense," Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. "We came up with dig after dig in the first set, and that really helped our attacking in transition. I thought we served well all evening, and I was very happy with our passing during the first two sets (EWU finished with just one ace).

"We play with a different level of energy on the home floor and we play extremely well on defense, making it hard on teams to come play here."

Hornet libero Lexie Skalbeck led everyone in digs with 18 as the fourth-year senior seemingly dug everything hit her way. Skalbeck is averaging a massive 5.67 digs per set in league play and will have a shot at winning Big Sky defensive player of the week.

Outside hitter Shannon Boyle had a match-best 12 kills to go along with 16 digs and three blocks, middle blocker Brie Gathright had six kills, six blocks and a .556 hitting percentage, and setter Kennedy Kurtz chipped in 32 assists, two aces, five digs and four blocks. Outside hitter Mikaela Nocetti had 10 kills (including the match clincher) and seven digs, and middle blocker Courtney Dietrich had four kills, three blocks and a .400 hitting percentage.

Kurtz (2), Nocetti (2) and Madeline Cannon (2) accounted for all six of the Hornets' aces. Sacramento State's 9.0 team blocks were the second most this season in a three-set match.

For Eastern Washington, which had 23 errors in 121 attacks, it was Chloe Weber finishing with seven kills, six blocks and a .750 hitting percentage. Besides Weber, no Eagle hit better than .222 in the match.

The Hornets' home matchup with Northern Arizona on Thursday will begin at 7 p.m. while Saturday's match against Southern Utah will start at 1 p.m.