Big Sky Conference standings
SACRAMENTO -- Senior outside hitter Mikaela Nocetti had a match-high 18 kills, and four Hornet starters hit better than .350 on the way to a three-set sweep (26-24, 29-27, 25-17) of Montana on Saturday afternoon at the Nest.
Despite the match being a sweep, the win didn't come easy as Sacramento State had to turn back set points at 23-24 in both the first and second sets. In fact, the match featured 35 ties and 15 lead changes as the Hornets and Grizzlies went back and forth. Even the third set was tight until a late 7-0 run put the Hornets on track to win in three. An Ashtin Olin kill ended the first set at 26-24 and a Nocetti kill capped the 29-27 second set victory.
With the win, Sacramento State (13-11, 8-2) moves into a tie for first place in the Big Sky Conference standings with Idaho, which defeated Northern Colorado at home last night. Sacramento State is playing its best volleyball of the season - not only was today the team's season-high fifth straight win, but each of those victories have come in straight sets. The Hornets haven't lost a set since Oct. 4.
In addition, today concludes a perfect 4-0 homestand for Sacramento State that included wins over Idaho State, Weber State and Montana State. The Hornets have now won 30 straight regular season matches at home against Big Sky opposition, a streak which dates back to the beginning of the 2015 season. The only player on Sacramento State's roster that has lost a regular season home match against a conference team is fifth-year senior Lana Brown when the Hornets lost during her true freshman season (2014).
Today's win also avenged a Hornet loss earlier this season to Montana in Missoula. Sacramento State won the first two sets of that match before eventually falling in five. The Grizzlies have lost three straight and dropped to 8-14 overall and 5-5 in league play. Sacramento State is now 17-4 against Montana at home, including victories in the six of the last seven matchups between the two teams inside the Nest.
Sacramento State finished with a .284 hitting percentage and had 12 more kills (52-40) than Montana. Four Hornet starters hit for healthy percentages, including Nocetti's 18 kills, eight digs and .415 hitting percentage, rightside hitter Cianna Andrews had nine kills, five blocks and hit .375, Brown had six kills, seven blocks and hit .353, and Olin posted four kills, 43 assists, nine digs and hit .500.
While Sacramento State hit better than .260 in each set, Montana saw its hitting percentage dwindle as the match progressed. The Grizzlies, who finished at .198, got off fast with a .311 mark in the first set before hitting .235 in the second, and .027 in the third. Montana outdug Sacramento State, 58-50, but the Hornets had the better offense while also finishing four aces and eight team blocks.
For Sacramento State, Sarah Davis had nine kills and six digs, Brie Gathright had six kills and a .286 hitting percentage, Paige Swinney had a team-best 12 digs and two aces, and Skyler Takeda added seven digs. Takeda's streak of nine straight matches with at least one ace came to a close.
For Montana, Mykaela Hammer led the team with 15 kills while libero Sarina Moreno led everyone with 20 digs.
The Hornets have just eight matches left on the regular season schedule, five of which will come on the road. That includes next week's road matches at Northern Arizona on Thursday and Southern Utah on Saturday. Earlier this year, the Hornets defeated both teams at home, including a four-set win over Southern Utah and five-set victory against Northern Arizona.