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SACRAMENTO -- Sacramento State put up a fight against a Pac-12 Conference opponent, but eventually fell to Arizona, 3-1 (25-12, 25-17, 26-28, 25-17), in the third and final round of the Hornet Volleyball Invitational on Saturday afternoon at Colberg Court.
Sacramento State opened the two-day, four-team tournament yesterday with a 3-1 win over Utah State and a 3-2 loss to CSUN (16-14 in the 5th). Arizona finished the tournament with a perfect 3-0 record and was crowned tournament champions while the Hornets, Utah State and CSUN each finished with 1-2 records. By virtue of tiebreakers, Sacramento State finished second at the tournament followed by CSUN in third and Utah State in fourth.
For Sacramento State, both senior middle blocker Lana Brown and sophomore libero Paige Swinney were named to the all-tournament team. Swinney had at least 21 digs in all three matches, and finished the tournament with a massive average of 6.15 digs per set. That includes a career-high 32 digs in today's loss. Brown, who was a second team all-conference selection a year ago, finished with averages of 1.77 kills and 1.46 blocks per set.
In today's match, the Hornets were up against an Arizona team that started five players which stood at six feet or taller. The Wildcats are the first Pac-12 team to play inside the Nest since Oregon State in 2007.
Arizona jumped out to a huge start, hitting .452 on the way to a 25-12 win in the first set. However, Sacramento State's defense continued to get better as the match progressed, as the Wildcats hit .235 in the second set, .145 in the third, and .095 in the fourth. However, Arizona finished the match with sizeable advantages in kills (60-38), hitting percentage (.212-.095) and digs (101-84). The Hornets did have 11.5 blocks compared to 9.0 for Arizona.
The match featured numerous lengthy rallies during the second, third and fourth sets as Sacramento State recovered nicely from a shaky first frame.
"I was really happy with the way we continued to get better throughout the match," Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. "Arizona is a very good team and they have size, but we played hard and I was proud of the way we competed."
For Sacramento State, outside hitter and team co-captain Mikaela Nocetti posted a double-double with 14 kills and 11 digs. Freshman setter Ashtin Olin had a stat sheet stuffing line of seven kills, a .375 hitting percentage, 28 assists, 10 digs and three blocks. In fact, Olin was just three kills shy of recording Sacramento State's first triple-double since the 2003 season.
Outside hitter Macey Hayden had eight kills and 10 digs, and Brown added five kills and a match-high seven blocks (including two solos). Five different Hornets posted double figures in digs, comprised of Swinney (32), Nocetti (11), Olin (10), Hayden (10) and Skyler Takeda (10).
For Arizona, tournament MVP Kendra Dahlke led the way with 24 kills, 19 digs and a .316 hitting percentage. Elizabeth Shelton added 12 kills, and Makenna Martin had 18 digs.
Sacramento State will play four times away from home next week, beginning on Tuesday with a road match at Santa Clara followed by a two-day tournament in Denver on Friday and Saturday. Sacramento State will play McNeese State on Friday, and both UC Santa Barbara and tournament host Denver on Saturday.
HORNET INVITATIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Kendra Dahlke (MVP) – Arizona
Devyn Cross – Arizona
Julia Patterson – Arizona
Paige Swinney – Sacramento State
Lana Brown - Sacramento State
Aeryn Owens - CSUN
Lauren O'Brien – Utah State