VOLLEYBALL SWEEPS PORTLAND STATE, QUALIFIES FOR THE BIG SKY TOURNAMENT
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- In a match Sacramento State had to win, the Hornets received 11 kills from both Maddison Thivierge and Desiree Hoyum, and swept Portland State (25-18, 25-20, 25-12) in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Saturday evening at Colberg Court.
Northern Arizona defeated Northern Colorado earlier this evening, meaning Sacramento State had to defeat Portland State in tonight’s regular season finale to earn a berth into next week’s Big Sky Tournament in Portland. The Hornets did exactly that, beating one of the league’s best teams and completing a series sweep of Portland State in the process.
Sacramento State (10-22, 8-8) earned the No. 6 seed in the single-elimination tournament and will play No. 3 seed Northern Colorado in the quarterfinal round on Friday, Nov. 28, at 11:30 a.m. Should the Hornets get past Northern Colorado, they will play in the semifinal round on Friday against host Portland State at 7:30 p.m. The championship match will be played on Saturday, Nov. 29, at 7 p.m. All matches will take place at Portland State’s Stott Center. Northern Colorado defeated Sacramento State in both meetings between the teams this year, including a 3-2 win in Sacramento on Halloween night
The Hornets have now qualified for the Big Sky Tournament every year since joining the league in 1996, a span of 13 consecutive seasons. Sacramento State, however, will be playing its first quarterfinal match ever, as the team had always received a first-round bye after earning the No. 1 or 2 seed. In addition, this year marks the first time in 11 years the tournament will not be played in either Sacramento or Cheney, Wash. The winner of the regular season title automatically hosts the following year’s tournament. Sacramento State and Portland State finished tied atop the conference last year, but PSU won the tiebreaker and the right to host this year’s tournament.
Sacramento State will enter the tournament riding one of its more impressive victories of the season. Portland State (18-8, 11-5) had entered the match as winners of six of its last seven prior to this evening’s loss. The Hornets had little trouble during the entire match, and coupled with their 3-2 win earlier this year in Portland, posted a 2-0 record against the Vikings.
“I was extremely happy with our effort tonight, especially after losing a very tough match yesterday,” Sacramento State first-year head coach Ruben Volta said. “I think we played one of our best all-around matches of the season, particularly on offense.
“I like being the underdog heading into the postseason, and if we play in the tournament like we did tonight, I like our chances.”
The rest of the Big Sky Tournament field takes shape the following way. In the tournament’s other quarterfinal match on Friday (9:30 a.m.), No. 4 Montana will take on No. 5 Weber State, with the winner of that contest facing No. 1 seed Eastern Washington in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Sacramento State has won the Big Sky Tournament each of the last six years, and either Eastern Washington or Sacramento State has won the postseason event each of the last eight years.
In tonight’s match, Sacramento State hit above .300 for the first time all season as the team finished with a .301 mark with 38 kills and just seven errors in 103 total attacks. Three Hornets hit at least .310, comprised of senior Brittany Ferguson (six kills, .545), Thivierge (.400) and Hoyum (.310). Sacramento State also owned a big advantage at the net as the Hornets had 12 team blocks compared to just one for Portland State. Leading the Hornet block party was Thivierge, who finished with a match-high seven, including a career-high three solo blocks. Freshman Kelsey Elston added four blocks, freshman Eryn Kirby had three, and Hoyum had three.
Portland State hit just .101 and committed 17 more attack errors than the Hornets. The only Viking with better than six kills was Marija Vojnovic who finished with 12. Four Sacramento State players had at least 10 digs, comprised of Kirby (15), Katie Van Der Wende (14), Hoyum (12) and Melissa Melcher (10). The double-double for Hoyum was her career-high 12th of the season.
Sacramento State will enter the Big Sky Tournament as the only team with championship experience on its roster. In fact, Hornet players have accounted for 14 Big Sky championships spanning the last three years. All-conference awards will be released by the conference on Thanksgiving day.