VOLLEYBALL POSTS GRITTY 3-1 WIN OVER NORTHERN ARIZONA
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Four Hornets had double figures in kills, freshman Kelsey Elston had a career-high 10 blocks, and senior Katie Van Der Wende posted a match-high 29 digs to lead Sacramento State to a 3-1 (22-25, 29-27, 26-24, 25-20) victory over Northern Arizona in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Saturday evening at Colberg Court.
The four Hornets in double-figure kills were comprised of seniors Desiree Hoyum (15 kills, 18 digs) and Brittany Ferguson (12 kills, career-high seven blocks), sophomore Maddison Thivierge (11 kills, .375 hitting percentage) and freshman Eryn Kirby (11 kills, 12 digs). Senior setter Rose Burke added a career-high seven kills to go along with a .462 hitting percentage, 52 assists, 12 digs and three blocks.
With the victory, Sacramento State stopped a modest two-match losing streak and improved to 8-17 overall and 6-4 in the Big Sky. Most importantly, The Hornets strengthened their position among the top four teams in the league standings (the top six squads in the nine-member conference advance to the Big Sky Tournament), and are now in fourth place, one game ahead of fifth-place Montana (6-6), and one and a half games ahead sixth-place Northern Arizona (5-6) and Weber State (5-6).
Sacramento State improved to 5-1 at home against conference opposition, and avenged a loss earlier this season to Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. The Hornets improved to 26-7 all-time against NAU, including a perfect 15-0 mark in Sacramento.
With the loss, Northern Arizona dropped to 13-7 overall and 5-6 in the Big Sky. The Lumberjacks fell to 3-3 on the road, and lost for the fourth time in their last five matches.
After NAU delivered a 25-22 win in the first set, the Lumberjacks were on the verge of closing out the second set as well. However, Sacramento State was able to save four set points at 24-23, 25-24, 26-25 and 27-26. Trailing, 27-26, the Hornets closed out the second-set win by running off three straight points on a combo block from Ferguson and Thivierge, and consecutive kills from Kirby.
In the third set, Northern Arizona again had a set point, this time at 24-23. However, Sacramento State used an attack error from Lexi Sullivan, followed by combo blocks from Hoyum and Elston, and then Burke and Elston to claim the win in the third frame. The Hornets jumped out to an 18-12 lead in the fourth set and cruised from there to complete the victory.
“This was a huge win in terms of where we sit in the conference standings, and I felt like we got that cushion back that we lost after last night’s defeat,” Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. “I was really happy how we fought hard and competed at the end of every set. We need to find a way to play with that same intensity the whole match.”
Elston, a freshman middle hitter, wrapped up an impressive week where she combined for 17 blocks over two matches. She recorded her season high of seven blocks last night, only to add another 10 in tonight’s victory. As a team, Sacramento State finished with a season-high 14.0 blocks. The Hornets’ defense also finished with 88 digs (20 more than NAU), and limited the Lumberjacks to a .135 hitting percentage. In addition, Sacramento State had 12 more kills than Northern Arizona (63-51).
The Lumberjacks were led by Lexi Sullivan’s 17 kills, while Alex Fell added 16 kills and 14 digs, and Brittany Stowers had 27 digs.
Sacramento State will now embark upon a five-match road trip, beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 4, with the team’s final non-conference match of the season at Pacific. The Hornets wrap up the week with matches at Idaho State (Friday, Nov. 7) and Weber State (Saturday, Nov. 8).