LONG FOURTH SET GOES EASTERN WASHINGTON'S WAY, EAGLES BEAT VOLLEYBALL, 3-1
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Hayley Hills led all players with 25 kills, and Mandy Daniels posted a match-high 34 digs to lead Eastern Washington to a 3-1 victory (25-19, 23-25, 25-20, 36-34) over Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Friday evening at Colberg Court.
With Eastern Washington leading the match, 2-1, the two teams battled back and forth in a fourth set that felt like it would never end. The teams combined for 70 points in the fourth, with Sacramento State squandering five set point opportunities and Eastern Washington squandering six set points before back-to-back kills from Hills and Allison Reinstein ended the set and match. The set was easily the longest of the season for Sacramento State as the two teams combined for 49 kills in the frame.
With the loss, Sacramento State dropped to 9-22 overall and 7-8 in the Big Sky. With just one match remaining in the regular season – tomorrow night at home against Portland State – the Hornets still control their own destiny as far as making the Big Sky Tournament for the 13th consecutive season. Should Sacramento State defeat Portland State, or Northern Arizona lose to Northern Colorado tomorrow night, the Hornets would gain the No. 6 seed in the tournament.
The top six teams in the nine-member league advance to the Big Sky Tournament, a postseason event the Hornets have won each of the last six years. This season will also mark the first since the Hornets joined the Big Sky in 1996 the team will not be either a No. 1 or 2 seed. The Big Sky Tournament takes place next week (Nov. 28-29) in Portland, marking the first time in 11 years the tournament will not be played in either Sacramento or Cheney, Wash.
With the victory, Eastern Washington (17-10, 12-4) clinched the No. 1 seed and at least a share of the Big Sky regular season title. By virtue of earning the No. 1 seed, the Eagles will also automatically host next year’s Big Sky Tournament. Eastern Washington was also able to snap its long dry spell in Sacramento, as the Hornets had won each of the last nine meetings between the teams inside the friendly confines.
Hills lead a trio of Eagles with double-figure kills, including Reinstein (13 kills, .379 hitting percentage and six blocks) and Chenoa Coviare (11 kills, .333 hitting percentage and six blocks). Eastern Washington led Sacramento State in nearly every statistical category, including kills (67-54), hitting percentage (.253-.170), assists (63-53), digs (76-71) and team blocks (13-9).
Junior Desiree Hoyum led Sacramento State with a career-high 21 kills to go along with a .294 hitting percentage, 12 digs and two blocks. Senior Brittany Ferguson (10 kills, three blocks) was the only other Sacramento State player with double digits in kills. Sophomore Maddison Thivierge added nine kills and four blocks, senior Rose Burke had three kills, 46 assists, 11 digs and two blocks, senior Katie Van Der Wende had a team-best 22 digs, and junior Melissa Melcher tallied 10 digs.
Prior to tomorrow night’s match against Portland State, Hornet seniors Burke, Ferguson and Van Der Wende will be honored for their contributions to the program.