DAVIS, Calif. -- Trailing 8-2 and 13-10 in the fifth and deciding set, Sacramento State stormed back to beat UC Davis, 3-2 (25-17, 19-25, 25-22, 16-25, 15-13), in a volleyball matchup between the two Causeway rivals at The Pavilion.
In a match that lasted two hours and 15 minutes, and featured 38 ties between the two teams, the Hornets closed on a 5-0 run to pull out the victory. Things looked bleak for Sacramento State when the team found itself down 8-2 midway through the fifth. However, the Hornets kept chipping away, and their hard work was rewarded by a match-closing five consecutive points via three kills from Mikaela Nocetti and a pair of blocks from the combination of Sarah Davis and Brie Gathright.
Trailing, 13-10, Nocetti posted back-to-back kills to draw the Hornets within, 13-12, and force a UC Davis timeout. The timeout did little to squash Sacramento State's momentum as Davis/Gathright blocked Brianna Karsseboom to tie the score at 13-13. Nocetti then notched her sixth kill of set for match point and Davis/Gathright came through with yet another block of Karsseboom to put things away.
With the victory, Sacramento State improved to 4-5 and earned its first win of the season (1-2) on an opponent's home floor. In the longest standing rivalry against any team, the Hornets moved their record to 52-22 all-time against UC Davis. The Aggies, who were playing their home opener, dropped to 4-3 on the young season.
In a defensive battle that featured a combined 194 digs, Sacramento State hit .191 while UC Davis hit .182. The Aggies held advantages over the Hornets in kills (63-57), aces (9-3) and digs (102-92), but the Hornets came through by winning all the big points late. In that fifth, Sacramento State hit .310 with 11 kills (six of which came from Nocetti), 10 digs and a pair of team blocks. Nocetti had just one error in 14 swings during the deciding frame.
"This was an incredible comeback," Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. "When we get things rolling, we are a very tough team to play, and we can go on long scoring runs because of our serving and defense. We got into that mindset during the fifth set, served well at important times, and came through with some huge late blocks.
"I'm very proud of how we fought. The first thing I told the team in the locker room was how proud I was for them to come back from a large deficit on the road. Davis is a very good team, and obviously I'm very pleased with how we finished the match."
Five Hornets finished with double figures in digs, comprised of setter Kennedy Kurtz (22), outside hitters Shannon Boyle (22) and Nocetti (10), libero Brigitte Murdock (21) and defensive specialist Hannah Meadows (12). The 22 digs were career highs for both Kurtz and Boyle while the 12 digs were one shy of a career best for Meadows.
Kurtz had the rare distinction of a 40 assist-20 dig match as the fourth-year senior and team co-captain had 44 assists, 22 digs, five kills, two blocks and a .667 hitting percentage. Both Boyle (16 kills, 22 digs) and Nocetti (15 kills, 10 digs) notched double-doubles, middle blocker Brie Gathright had nine kills, four blocks and a .421 hitting percentage, and rightside hitter Davis posted seven kills and three blocks. Middle blcoker Lana Brown added five kills and four blocks (two solo stuffs).
For UC Davis, which had 27 errors in 198 attacks. Emily Allen was the only Aggie with double figures in kills (15), but she was limited to a .189 hitting percentage. Alexa Rockas had seven kills and a .333 hitting percentage, Kelechi Ohiri had eight kills, five blocks and a .400 hitting percentage, and Malia Bolko had a match-best 27 digs.
Sacramento State returns to action for three more matches later this week in Kentucky. The Hornets will begin the two-day tournament on Friday with a matchup against Bowling Green at 12:30 p.m. PDT. Sacramento State will play twice on Saturday.
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