SACRAMENTO -- Middle blockers Lana Brown (14 kills, .440) and Brie Gathright (12 kills, .524) combined for 26 kills and a .478 hitting percentage to help lead Sacramento State to a 3-1 victory over Weber State in the Big Sky Conference volleyball opener for both teams on Thursday night. Scores were 25-21, 19-25, 25-22, 25-23.
Tonight marked the 17th straight home victory over a Big Sky opponent, a streak which dates back to the beginning of the 2015 conference season. In addition, during the winning streak, the Hornets have been taken to five sets just once, as 16 of those outcomes have decided in four sets or less.
Sacramento State improved its record to 10-7 overall and 1-0 in the conference. The Hornets improved their record to 36-10 all-time against Weber State, including a 20-3 mark when playing the Wildcats inside the Nest.
Weber State, which has dropped five straight to the Hornets, fell to 2-11 overall and 0-1 in league play. The Wildcats have not defeated the Hornets since a 3-2 win in Ogden during the 2014 season.
Tonight marked the first of 16 conference matches for Sacramento State as the Hornets will host Idaho State on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. Six of the Hornets' first eight conference matches will come inside the Nest, a welcome sight after the team played 14 of its 16 non-league contest away from home.
In a hard fought match that included a number of tense moments late in both the third and fourth sets, Sacramento State was able to win the clutch points. That included a third set where the Hornets closed on a 12-6 run, and were able to snap a 22-22 tie by getting back-to-back kills from Gathright followed by a solo block from setter Kennedy Kurtz.
In a fourth set that featured six ties and neither team leading by more than two points the latter half of the frame, Sacramento State won a long rally at 21-21 that included a handful of incredible digs and seemed to last an eternity. A Gathright kill finally ended the marathon point and gave the Hornets a 24-22 lead, and a Shannon Boyle kill eventually put things away to give Sacramento State the victory.
Both teams hit farily well (SAC .262, WSU .250), and Sacramento State won for just the second time (2-7) when allowing its opponent to hit better than .200. The Hornets had an edge over the Wildcats in kills (65-56), assists (63-53), digs (75-70) and team blocks (10.0-9.0).
Four Hornets finished with double figures in kills, comprised of Brown (14 kills, five blocks), Gathright (12 kills, four blocks), and outside hitters Shannon Boyle (13 kills, 19 digs, four blocks) and Mikaela Nocetti (13 kills, 10 digs). The 12 kills for Gathright set a new personal best, surpassing her previous high of 10, set last year at Southern Utah.
Kurtz was one kill shy of her career best, finishing with six kills, a .545 hitting percentage, 52 assists, seven digs and two blocks. That included the huge solo stuff on set point of the third frame. Libero Brigitte Murdock had 19 digs and Skyler Takeda set her new career high with 13 digs to go along with two aces. Freshman Cianna Andrews had three kills and a .400 hitting percentage.
For Weber State, Amanda Varley had 17 kills and 19 digs while Aubrey Saunders had 10 kills, six blocks and a .300 hitting percentage.
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