BOISE, Idaho — Playing without the services of two injured setters, Sacramento State opened the first round of the Boise State Volleyball Classic with a 3-0 loss (25-16, 25-23, 25-18) to Portland on Friday afternoon at Bronco Gym.
Both setters on Sacramento State's roster are currently injured as freshman McKenna Smith (foot) is out for the season, and redshirt freshman Ashtin Olin (knee) will not play this weekend. Olin had set every match of the season prior to today. She suffered the injury midway through the Hornets' match vs. Seattle last Saturday.
To fill the void of playing a match without a true setter, head coach Ruben Volta tried a number of players at the position at this week's practice to brace for what could be the harsh reality of playing without a quarterback on the floor. Sophomore Paige Swinney, who had been the team's libero, and junior Sarah Davis, an outside hitter, were thrust into duty in today's game. Swinney set in the back row while Davis set in the front row, and both played admirably with 12 assists apiece.
Amazingly, Davis was playing setter in a match for the first time in her life while Swinney played the position for the first time since she was in the sixth grade. Filling in for Swinney at the libero spot was Skyler Takeda while Paige Calvin slid into Takeda's usual spot at defensive specialist.
The loss dropped Sacramento State (5-7 overall) to 0-1 at the two-day tournament as the Hornets play again later today vs. 13th-ranked Washington at 4 pm PDT. They wrap up the event tomorrow at tournament host Boise State at 11 am PDT.
With the victory, Portland remains perfect on the season while improving to 10-0. The win also marks the first-ever for the Pilots against Sacramento State. Prior to today, the Hornets had been 5-0 all-time against Portland.
Despite being minus both setters and playing a good team, Sacramento State nearly won the second set. In fact, at 24-23, it took a controversial touch call on the Hornets after a Portland attacker sprayed the ball out of bounds to end the frame. As the Hornets were getting ready to play the next point for what they thought was a 24-24 tie, the up official was calling a touch which surprised the entire Sacramento State roster and coaching staff.
As expected, when playing with two novice setters in a Div. I match, Sacramento State finished with a low amount of kills (30) and assists (29) while hitting .084. The Hornets did have more digs (41-38) and team blocks (9.0-7.0) than the Pilots, and limited Portland to a .208 hitting percentage.
For just the second time all season, zero Hornets finished with double figures in kills as outside hitter Mikaela Nocetti led the way with nine. Fellow outside hitter Macey Hayden had eight kills and four blocks, and rightside hitter Cianna Andrews had five kills and a match-best .429 hitting percentage. Middle blocker Brie Gathright had five kills and Lana Brown had four blocks.
Takeda had 11 digs in her debut at libero, and Calvin had a season-high 11 digs to go along with an ace. Davis had 12 assists and two blocks, and Swinney had 12 assists and three digs.
Sacramento State is now 0-6 when its opponent hits better than .200, and 5-1 when limiting the opposition to below a .200 percentage.
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