HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — Sacramento State limited Northern Kentucky to a .097 hitting percentage and won its third straight in a 3-1 (25-18, 26-24, 18-25, 25-23) victory over the Norse in the second round of the NKU Invitational on Saturday morning.
The Hornets (6-5 overall) improved to 2-0 at the two-day tournament, which includes a 3-2 victory over Bowling Green yesterday. Sacramento State concludes the event later today at 2 p.m. PDT against Seattle. Today's loss was the first of the season for Northern Kentucky, which dropped them to 4-1. The Norse beat Seattle in four sets last night.
Each of the Hornets' three victories during the winning streak have come away from home, including road wins at UC Davis and Northern Kentucky, and yesterday's neutral site win against Bowling Green. Sacramento State is now 6-4 away from home this season.
The Hornets have put together nice comebacks during the later stages of at least one set during each of the three victories during the winning streak. That included today when the team overcame a 23-21 deficit in the second set by closing the frame on a 5-1 run. Mikaela Nocetti had two of her team-high 15 kills during the run, including the set clincher.
The Hornets also found themselves locked in a close fourth set at 24-23, but it was setter Kennedy Kurtz who ended things with a kill off an assist from Hannah Meadows.
During the three-match winning streak, opponents have combined to hit just .155 against a Hornet defense that has compiled 269 digs and 34 team blocks over that stretch. Today, Northern Kentucky had 49 kills with 32 errors in 176 swings, and the .097 hitting percentage was the lowest for any Sacramento State opponent this season.
Nocetti's 15 kills accompanied a career-high tying 18 digs. She was joined in double-figure kills by fellow outside hitter Shannon Boyle who had 13 kills and 21 digs. Boyle now has 20-plus digs in three of the last five matches. Kurtz stuffed the stat sheet with three kills, a .500 hitting percentage, two aces, 43 assists, 11 digs and three blocks. Libero Brigitte Murdock (17) rounded out the four Hornets with double figures in digs and Meadows finished with nine.
Middle blocker Lana Brown had seven kills and three blocks, fellow middle Brie Gathright had six kills and a match-high seven blocks and rightside hitter Sarah Davis had six kills and six blocks. True freshman Cianna Andrews had one kill, but it was a big one, drawing the Hornets to within 23-22 of the Norse lead late in the second set. Sacramento State used 12 players in today's match.
Northern Kentucky was led by Laura Crawford who had 18 kills and 16 digs, but hit just .071. Kaelin Gentile had five kills and a .364 hitting percentage but was the only NKU player with more than two kills than hit better than .140.