LONG HOME WINNING STREAK SNAPPED IN VOLLEYBALL’S FIVE-SET LOSS TO IDAHO

LONG HOME WINNING STREAK SNAPPED IN VOLLEYBALL’S FIVE-SET LOSS TO IDAHO

Big Sky Conference standings

SACRAMENTO — In a battle of two of the top teams in the Big Sky Conference, Idaho overcame a 2-0 deficit and stormed back to beat Sacramento State in five sets (21-25, 17-25, 25-21, 25-19, 15-6), on Saturday evening inside the Nest.

In the process, Sacramento State saw its 31-match regular season home winning streak against Big Sky opposition come to an end. The Hornets hadn't lost to a conference foe at home during the regular season since falling in five sets to Southern Utah on Nov. 15, 2014.

Prior to tonight, Sacramento State had won seven of its last eight matches, with all seven of those wins resulting in a three-set sweep. And it looked like the Hornets might pull off another sweep tonight after taking the first two sets. However, Idaho showed why it currently sits atop the Big Sky, storming back to win the final three frames. That includes a decisive fifth set in which the Vandals hit .647 with 11 kills and no errors in 17 attacks.

Idaho (18-8, 12-2) won its 10th straight and remains in first place atop the conference standings, followed by second-place Northern Arizona (11-3) and third-place Sacramento State (15-13, 10-4). Had the Hornets won tonight, they would have moved into a first place tie with Idaho. However, the Vandals' win allowed them to remain atop the league standings with just four matches left in the regular season. Idaho and Northern Arizona will both play three of their final four at home while Sacramento State will play one of its final four at home.

Coupled with Idaho's four-set win over the Hornets earlier this year in Moscow, Sacramento State was swept in a season series by a Big Sky team for the first time since Southern Utah accomplished the feat in 2014.

In the fifth set of tonight's game, Idaho never trailed, jumping out to a 5-1 lead. Sacramento State closed within, 5-3, but could not get any closer. The Vandals had 11 kills, a .647 hitting percentage and nine digs in the fifth while the Hornets had six kills, a .158 hitting percentage and six digs.

The Vandals, who hit for a negative percentage in the second set (-.045), finished the match with a .217 hitting percentage to go along with 57 kills, 80 digs and 7.0 team blocks. Sacramento State hit .195 with 56 kills, 86 digs and 6.0 team blocks. One of the Big Sky's top blocking teams, the Hornets' six team blocks were tied for their third lowest output of the season.

Sacramento State's 86 digs, however, were a season high as five different players finished with at least 13 digs. That included Skyler Takeda (16), Sarah Davis (16), Mikaela Nocetti (16), Paige Swinney (14) and Ashtin Olin (13). Nocetti (15 kills, 16 digs), Davis (14 kills, 16 digs) and Olin (43 assists, 13 digs) each had double-doubles.

Brie Gathright had a season-high tying 10 kills to go along with a .409 hitting percentage and fellow middle blocker Lana Brown had five kills, a match-high tying four blocks and a .556 hitting percentage. Rightside hitter Cianna Andrews added seven kills and three blocks. Sacramento State had seven aces, including three from Davis and two each from Olin and Gathright.

Idaho's Sarah Sharp led all players with 21 kills while also hitting .283, DeVonne Ryter had 12 kills and a .500 hitting percentage, and libero Alycia Wodke led all players with 29 digs.

Sacramento State will play its next three matches on the road over a six-day span when the team plays at Weber State (Nov. 8), Idaho State (Nov. 10) and Portland State (Nov. 13). The Hornets' final home match will come during the regular season finale and Senior Night on Nov. 17 against Northern Colorado. This year's Big Sky Tournament, which Sacramento State has already clinched a spot, will take place Nov. 22-24 in Greeley, Colo.