Big Sky Conference standings
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State completed a perfect 4-0 homestand with yet another convincing win, this time sweeping Southern Utah, 25-12, 25-17, 25-20, on Saturday afternoon at Colberg Court.
Not only did the Hornets win all four matches on the homestand, they also swept each of those four opponents. In the process, Sacramento State (15-11, 9-3) clinched a spot in the Big Sky Tournament and moved its overall record to a season-high four games above the .500 mark. The Big Sky Tournament will take place Nov. 17-19 at the site of the league's regular season champion.
The Hornets are now alone in second place, a half game behind Northern Arizona in the Big Sky's South Division. Northern Arizona will play at Portland State tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Dating back to last season, Sacramento State has won 13 consecutive matches at home against Big Sky opposition. That includes a 5-0 record this season with all five of those victories coming via three-set sweep. The Hornets have just four matches remaining in the regular season and three of those will come at home, a place the Hornets haven't lost since falling to Cal Poly on Sept. 17.
Sacramento State avenged a five-set loss earlier this season to Southern Utah in Cedar City. The Thunderbirds lost their third straight match while falling to 4-20 overall and 2-10 in the Big Sky.
The Hornets dominated today's match in nearly every statistical category, including kills (45-32), hitting percentage (.274-.134), assists (42-31), aces (7-1) and digs (59-48). It was another impressive performance for the nation's 11th best team in digs as Sacramento State's 59 digs came in just three sets, or a robust average of 19.7 per frame. Sacramento State's seven aces were the team's most in the last 18 matches, as Mikaela Nocetti, Madeline Cannon and Skyler Tadeda each had two aces.
The Hornets' largest deficit of the match was 4-1 early in the third set, but Sacramento State quickly responded with a 9-3 run to take control and eventually put the match away. Southern Utah's 32 kills came with 17 errors in 112 attacks as Sacramento State limited all four opponents on the homestand to a hitting percentage below .200.
Libero Lexie Skalbeck had yet another big day, finishing with 21 digs over three sets. That breaks down to 7.0 digs per set this afternoon, and she is now averaging 5.84 per set against Big Sky opposition. The fourth-year senior racked up 75 digs over the four-match homestand despite each of those wins coming via three-set sweep.
Cannon, a senior rightside hitter, had a huge match with 15 kills, two aces, three blocks and a .367 hitting percentage. The 15 kills were a match high, and three more than any other player on the floor. Shannon Boyle recorded her 14th double-double with 12 kills and 10 digs, and Nocetti finished with seven kills and 11 digs to go along the two aces.
Middle blocker Courtney Dietrich had six kills and a .333 hitting percentage, setter Kennedy Kurtz had 38 assists and eight digs, and middle blocker Brie Gathright had three kills and three blocks. Takeda had four digs to go along with her two aces, and she is now averaging a team-best one ace every 11.6 serve attempts. Middle blocker Lana Brown added a kill and a block, and Brigitte Murdock had two digs.
The Hornets will play their final road match of the regular season on Thursday at Montana State before beginning a three-match homestand on Saturday against Portland State at 7 p.m.
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