VOLLEYBALL BEATS EASTERN WASHINGTON, WILL WIN CONFERENCE WITH VICTORY TOMORROW NIGHT AT PORTLAND STATE
CHENEY, Wash. -- Down a game and 28-26 in the second game, Sacramento State closed the second with a 4-0 run and dominated the next two frames to defeat Eastern Washington, 3-1 (24-20, 30-28, 30-11, 30-17) in a Big Sky Conference women’s volleyball match Friday evening at Reese Court.
The win for Sacramento State (26-6, 13-2) was huge as it ensures the team will finish the season with no worse than the No. 2 seed and a first round bye in next week’s Big Sky Tournament (Nov. 23-24), hosted by the Hornets. The win also sets up a showdown for the regular season championship with Portland State (19-7, 12-3) tomorrow night in Portland.
With a victory tomorrow, the Hornets would win the Big Sky title outright and earn the right to host next year’s Big Sky Tournament. Should the Hornets lose to Portland State, both teams would finish the season with 13-3 conference records and set up a number of different tiebreaking scenarios for the league’s regular season title. Since the Hornets defeated the Vikings, 3-2, earlier this season in Sacramento, Portland State could win the tiebreaker by beating Sacramento State in either three or four games tomorrow night.
However, if PSU wins in five, the next tiebreaker would come down to point differential, in which Sacramento State leads, 125-117. So, if the Vikings win in five and outscore the Hornets by more than an eight point differential, PSU would win the regular season title and the right to host next year’s Big Sky Tournament. Different from years past, the Big Sky recently adopted the scenario where the league’s regular season champion automatically hosts the following year’s conference tournament. All the tiebreaking scenarios are a moot point if the Hornets win tomorrow night.
What makes tonight’s victory even more impressive is Sacramento State defeated the league’s hottest team on the road. Eastern Washington (14-14, 12-4) had won eight straight matches, including a three-game sweep of Portland State last week, prior to the loss. The Hornets continued their ownership of the Eagles, having now won nine straight over Eastern Washington dating back to 2004.
Sacramento State has already assured itself of at least a share of the Big Sky’s regular season championship, and, with a win tomorrow night, will have won 11 straight conference regular season and/or tournament titles.
After Eastern Washington won the first game, 30-24, the Eagles then held a 28-26 lead in the second game. However, the Hornets struck back with four consecutive kills from seniors Jennifer Ferguson, Lindsay Haupt, Missie Stidham and Ferguson again to win the second frame. The Hornets dominated the rest of the way, winning the third and fourth games in convincing fashion. In fact, Sacramento State hit .448 in the third frame and .359 in the fourth.
Stidham led all players with 22 kills to go along with 20 digs, two aces and four blocks. Joining Stidham with double-figure kills for the Hornets were Ferguson (15 kills, 10 digs, three blocks) and Haupt (12 kills, match-high 11 blocks). The three combined for 49 of the Hornets’ 57 kills. The team also had 76 digs, including a team-best 23 from freshman Chelsea Goodsell and 10 from junior setter Rose Burke.
As a team, Sacramento State combined for 17.0 team blocks, including six from sophomore Desiree Hoyum and four from senior Michelle Franz. The 17.0 blocks were the most by the Hornets since Sept. 8 when the team tallied 24.5 against Cal State Northridge. Eastern Washington hit just .093 as a team, and only one Eagle player (Ashley Hamilton - .333) hit better than .170.
Setting up tomorrow night, Sacramento State owns the series over Portland State, 31-12, but the Vikings have won each of the last two meetings between the two teams in Portland.