VOLLEYBALL STORMS BACK FROM 2-0 DEFICIT, KNOCKS OFF NORTHERN ARIZONA IN FIVE
Setter Hannah Hettinga finished with career highs in assists (59) and blocks (4) while also posting 11 digs and two aces
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Kayla Beal (career-high 22), Janelle Currey (season-best 21) and Jessie Genger (18) combined for 61 kills to help Sacramento State overcome a 2-0 deficit and defeat Northern Arizona, 3-2 (20-25, 19-25, 25-18, 25-20, 15-12), in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Saturday afternoon at Colberg Court.
Not only did the Hornets erase a 2-0 deficit, they also knocked off an NAU squad that had the Big Sky Conference’s highest RPI rating and was 18-3 overall and 10-2 in conference entering the day. The win also snapped the Lumberjacks’ seven-match winning streak.
Sacramento State (9-15, 5-9) has began its season-long four-match homestand in impressive fashion, sweeping Southern Utah in convincing fashion Thursday night and adding the upset victory today. The team concludes the homestand next week against Northern Colorado (Thursday, Nov. 1) and North Dakota (Saturday, Nov. 3). The Hornets are now a ridiculous 110-19 at home against league foes since joining the Big Sky in 1996.
The win also moved Sacramento State to within 1.5 games of sixth place and a hopeful Big Sky Tournament berth. The top six teams at the end of the regular season reach the league’s postseason event, and the Hornets currently sit in eighth place. Montana State and North Dakota are both 6-7, and hold down the final two playoff berths if the season ended today.
Northern Arizona, which defeated the Hornets in four sets earlier this season, dropped to 18-4 overall and 10-3 in the conference with the loss. The Lumberjacks currently sit third in the league standings.
No one was more clutch today than Beal, as the junior rightside hitter had four kills without an error and a .571 hitting percentage in the fifth set. One of those kills tied the frame at 11-11 and started a 5-1 Hornet run to close the set and match. There were 10 tie scores and three lead changes in the tense fifth set, but Sacramento State finally prevailed with a combo block by Ashley Newcomb and Hannah Hettinga to close out the victory.
Beal’s 22 kills surpassed her previous career high of 21, and she also had a team-high .435 hitting percentage to go along with six blocks. Today’s effort capped an incredible week in which Beal averaged 4.45 kills and 1.36 blocks per set to go along with a .495 hitting percentage in three matches.
Currey’s 21 kills were a season high as she also hit .267 with 12 digs. Genger’s 18 kills accompanied 18 digs, and Newcomb added six kills, five blocks and a .375 hitting percentage. Olivia Moss, who ranks among the top 20 players in the nation in blocks, added a match-high eight, including three solo stuffs.
Hettinga posted career highs in assists (59) and blocks (4) while also tallying two aces and four digs. Libero Sydney Kordic had 31 digs and a match-best four aces. Five of her digs came in a fifth set that saw the Hornets limit the Lumberjacks to a .083 hitting percentage.
Sacramento State hit .249 in the match with 69 kills, 67 assists, seven aces, 88 digs and 14.0 team blocks. The Lumberjacks had similar numbers, but could not overcome a Hornet defense that combined for 5.0 of their 14.0 team blocks in the fifth and decisive set.
For NAU, Janae Vander Ploeg led the team with 21 kills and a .340 hitting percentage while Payton Bock added 17 kills, five blocks and a .556 hitting percentage.
The Hornets’ match against North Dakota next Saturday is another 1 p.m. start, as the football team hosts Montana State later that day at 4 p.m.