VOLLEYBALL WINS BIG SKY TOURNAMENT TITLE BEHIND STELLAR NIGHT FROM STIDHAM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento State volleyball team won its sixth straight Big Sky Conference Tournament title with a 3-0 win over Portland State, Saturday night at the Hornets Nest. The Hornets relied on 29 kills and 22 digs from senior Missie Stidham and used an amazing comeback in game three for the 30-22, 30-24, 30-26 victory.
With the win, Sacramento State improved to 28-7 overall and earned the Big Sky’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The pairings for the 64-team field will be announced on Sunday at 5 p.m. PST on ESPNU. This season’s appearance will mark the 10th time in the last 11 years the Hornets have qualified for the NCAA Championships.
Against Portland State, Stidham dominated play through the first two games. The senior, who was named the tournament MVP, collected 12 kills and 10 digs in the first game. Her 12 kills matched the team total for PSU and helped Sacramento State lead from wire-to-wire for the 30-22 win.
Stidham added 10 more kills to her total in the second game and the Hornets hit .346 as a team in the game to take a 2-0 lead.
The Vikings came out of the intermission with renewed energy and looked to rally from a 2-0 deficit for the second consecutive match. PSU broke a 12-12 tie with 12 consecutive points behind the serving of sophomore setter Dominique Fradella. Junior Brittany Ferguson provided her only kill of the match to stop the streak by Portland State and swing momentum in favor of the Hornets.
Senior Jennifer Ferguson followed with an ace, Lindsay Haupt and Rose Burke combined for a block and a hitting error by the Vikings made the score 24-17 before Erica Jepsen recorded a kill to put PSU ahead by eight (25-17).
Stidham returned the serve back to the Hornets with a kill and a ball handling error made the score 25-19. On the ensuing play, the Vikings nearly had a kill but a diving one-handed swing by Stidham put the ball back over the net and Portland State was blocked by Burke and Franz which drew a standing ovation from the hometown crowd.
Sacramento State tied the game with the help two PSU hitting errors, two blocks and a kill by Jennifer Ferguson. The team then seized control of the match with a kill from Franz and consecutive kills by Stidham. An error by Portland State provided match point before Marija Vojnovic kept the Vikings alive with her team-leading 12th kill of the match. The Hornets, however, converted on their second opportunity with the final kill by Stidham.
Stidham’s 29 kills destroyed the tournament record for a three-game match. The previous mark of 23 was held by Tami Burchard (Northern Arizona) and Nancy Ma (Cal State Northridge) who performed the feat in the same match in 1996.
Haupt also finished in double figures with 14 kills and Franz added eight. Defensively, Jennifer Ferguson had 20 digs, Chelsea Goodsell tallied 15 and Haupt completed her double-double with 10. Franz led the way at the net with eight blocks.
Michelle Segun and Jepsen finished with 11 and 10 kills, respectively, to join Vojnovic in double figures. Libero Jacqueline Thomas had a team best 21 digs and was followed by Jalen Pendon (14), Fradella (12) and Vojnovic (11).
As a team, the Hornets hit .220 and held the Vikings to .142. Sacramento State was also able to out-dig PSU, 82-75, and out-block the team, 10-8.
Both squads were well represented on the all-tournament team. Sacramento State placed three players on the seven-member squad comprised of Stidham, Haupt and Franz. Portland State featured Vojnovic and Jennifer Oney. Northern Arizona Kim Babcock, who tied the tournament record with 35 kills in a five-game match on Friday, and Weber State’s Micah Lines completed the team.
NOTES: Despite playing at home Sacramento State was the designated visiting team in the match based on its second seed…the match marked the first time Portland State had played in the championship match since joining the Big Sky in 1996…the contest was also the final home match for Sacramento State head coach Debby Colberg in her 32 years with the program…although the Hornets have won the tournament title nine times in 11 years, Saturday's victory was only the team's third sweep in the championship match…Sacramento State trailed only once in the first two games (1-0 to start game two)…the team is now 20-3 all-time in Big Sky Tournament matches.