VOLLEYBALL SWEEPS MONTANA STATE, SETS UP BIG MATCHUP WITH MONTANA SATURDAY NIGHT
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State middle hitters Maddison Thivierge (7 kills, .636 hitting percentage) and Kelsey Elston (7 kills, .417 hitting percentage) combined for 14 kills and a .522 hitting percentage on the way to a three-set sweep of Montana State (25-17, 25-17, 25-23) Friday evening in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match at Colberg Court.
With the victory, Sacramento State won its season-high tying fourth straight match and improved to 13-9 overall and 4-3 in the Big Sky. The Hornets are also now a season-best four wins above the .500 mark, and have won 11 of their last 15 matches. The victory allowed Sacramento State to move into a two-way tie for fourth place in the Big Sky standings with Montana, and the Hornets and Grizzlies will square off tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Colberg Court.
The top four teams in the Big Sky reach the postseason tournament, set for Nov. 27-28. Sacramento State is just one game back of second place Eastern Washington and Portland State, who are both 5-2 in the conference.
Montana State lost its ninth straight and fell to 2-15 overall and 0-8 in the conference. Sacramento State has now defeated the Bobcats 12 straight times dating back to 2004, and owns a 32-5 record in the all-time series between the two teams.
Sacramento State, which never trailed by more than one point during the entire match, limited Montana State to a .133 hitting percentage. The Hornets had more kills (37-33), aces (8-2), digs (49-47), team blocks (9.0-5.0) and hit for a higher percentage (.245-.133) than the Bobcats in a match which lasted just one hour and 22 minutes.
Thivierge’s career-high .636 hitting percentage came with zero errors in 11 total attacks. Elston, who shared the team lead with four blocks, had just two errors in 12 attacks to finish with a .417 hitting percentage. The two middle hitters combined for 14 of the team’s 37 kills while freshman Janelle Currey added six kills and 14 digs, and Eryn Kirby had five kills, a .300 hitting percentage and two blocks.
“I was very happy with our ball control tonight and felt like we attacked the middle really well,” Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. “We served tough and kept Montana State off balance most of the evening.”
Setter Melissa Melcher had 25 assists, seven digs and a career-high five aces. Currey and Desiree Hoyum (10) were the only Hornets to record double figures in digs, and Hoyum also had four blocks. The Hornets ran a 6-2 offense in the second and third sets, and rightside hitters Kirby (5 kills, .300 hitting percentage, 2 blocks), Emily Trudgeon (3 kills, .500 hitting percentage, 1 block) and Anna Schoener (3 kills, .250 hitting percentage, 1 solo block) were each effective.
Sophomore middle hitter Shannon Wilson also played for the first time all season (foot injury), and had two kills, two blocks and a 1.000 hitting percentage.
Montana State was led by Kyla Hendry’s match-high eight kills while Meghan Albiston led all players with 18 digs.
Sacramento State, which was playing its first home match since Sept. 25, returns to the friendly confines tomorrow night for its match against Montana at 7 p.m. The Hornets are 24-5 all-time against Montana, including an 11-2 advantage in Sacramento.