VOLLEYBALL OPENS CONFERENCE PLAY WITH SWEEP OF EASTERN WASHINGTON
Highlights from the Hornets' conference-opening sweep of Eastern Washington (Royce Hanks)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State’s Kayla Beal (13), Kiley Mansfield (9) and Lauren Aikels (8) combined for 30 of the team’s 49 kills to help the Hornets to a three-set sweep (25-18, 28-26, 25-18) of Eastern Washington in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Thursday evening at Colberg Court.
Tonight marked the conference opener for both teams as the Hornets improved to 5-5 overall and 1-0 in the league while Eastern Washington dropped to 0-12 and 0-1. The Eagles have played the majority of the season without a true setter because of injuries. Setter Laney Brown, however, returned from injury two matches ago and had a match-best 28 assists tonight.
After the Hornets won the first set in quick fashion, Sacramento State struggled during the early parts of the second set. In fact, the Eagles took a 13-4 lead and were in prime position to win the second frame. That’s when Hornet true freshman outside hitter Lauren Aikels was inserted into the match and sparked a 24-13 run to close the set.
In the second set alone, Aikels accounted for five kills, a .714 hitting percentage, one ace and one solo block to help the Hornets pull out the comeback in the second frame. The San Diego native finished the match with season highs in kills (8), attacks (15), hitting percentage (.467), aces (3), digs (6) and total points (12.0).
“I was happy with the way we started the match, and was pleased with our serve receive passing which helped set up our offense,” Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. “We really struggled at the beginning of the second set, but Lauren Aikels entered the match, and immediately provided energy and made a big difference. We were able to sustain that level of play the rest of the way, and this was a nice start to the conference season.”
Sacramento State held a 49-35 advantage in kills over Eastern Washington, and limited the Eagles to a .138 hitting percentage. The Hornets also had 11.0 team blocks, marking the seventh time this season with double figures in blocks.
Beal’s 12 kills were a match high, and the junior rightside hitter also hit .367 with two blocks. Mansfield, who returned from a shoulder injury a week ago, had nine kills and a .261 hitting percentage. Middle blocker Ashley Newcomb had seven kills, a .308 hitting percentage and match-best five blocks (two of which were solo stuffs), and outside hitter Janelle Currey chipped in seven kills, eight digs and a season-high four blocks. Libero Sydney Kordic had 15 digs and was the lone Hornet to post double figures in digs.
For Eastern Washington, Kelsey Julian led the way with 10 kills while Cora Kellerman had a match-best 18 digs.
The Hornets return to action on Saturday for a home league match against Portland State at 7 p.m. Fans that attend the Sacramento State home football game at 2 p.m. can use their ticket stub to gain free entry into the volleyball match.
NOTES -- The Hornets are now 30-13 all-time against the Eagles, and have won the last three meetings between the two schools…since joining the Big Sky in 1996, Sacramento State is 11-2 when playing its conference opener at home…the Hornets have combined for a 13-3 record over the last two years against Big Sky competition when playing at Colberg Court.