ELSTON LEADS VOLLEYBALL TO FIVE-SET VICTORY OVER MONTANA STATE
BOZEMAN, Mont. -- Sophomore middle hitter Kelsey Elston had 16 kills and a match-high .500 hitting percentage to lead Sacramento State to a 3-2 victory (22-25, 25-19, 22-25, 25-18, 15-13) over Montana State in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Saturday evening at Shroyer Gym.
Elston had three of those kills (and a .600 hitting percentage) in a fifth set that saw neither team take a lead larger than two points. In fact, neither squad led by more than one point until the Hornets took leads of 12-10 and 14-12 late in the frame. Sacramento State hit .370 in the decisive set, including three kills and a perfect hitting percentage from freshman Janelle Currey, as well as two kills in two swings from sophomore Eryn Kirby. With the Hornets on top, 14-13, Montana State’s Taylor Faught served to Currey, who made a perfect pass to Melcher and she set junior Maddison Thivierge for the match-clinching kill.
With the victory, Sacramento State was able to snap its three-match losing streak and improve to 16-14 overall and 6-8 in the Big Sky. With just two matches remaining on the schedule (both coming at home next week), the Hornets have assured themselves of at least a .500 record after struggling to a 10-23 mark in a major rebuilding 2008 season. In addition, the team will finish with a 6-5 record on the road, and 9-6 away from home (including a 3-1 mark at neutral sites).
Although Sacramento State will not finish among the top four teams in the Big Sky and will miss the league’s postseason event for the first time in school history, the team is in a battle for fifth place with Idaho State. Both squads are currently tied for fifth with 6-8 records and Sacramento State owns the tiebreaker. Portland State improved to 13-2 with its victory tonight, and clinched the league’s regular season championship.
Montana State dropped to 3-21 overall and 1-13 in the Big Sky with the loss.
Sacramento State found itself down two sets to one, and trailed, 10-9, in the fourth. However, the team strung together a 5-0 run and led by at least two points the remainder of the fourth frame. They carried that momentum into a fifth set that saw clutch kills from Thivierge (12-10), Currey (13-12) and Thivierge again (15-13) help put the match away. A combo block from Thivierge and setter Melissa Melcher gave the Hornets a 14-12 lead.
Elston’s 16 kills accompanied just two errors in 28 attacks as the Rocklin, Calif., native hit at least .500 for the third time this season. In addition to the 16 kills, she tallied match highs in aces (3) and blocks (7). Elston was the only Hornet to hit better than .286. Senior Desiree Hoyum added a match-best 18 kills to go along with two aces and 15 digs, as she and Elston combined for 34 of the Hornets’ 59 kills.
In a match that saw the Hornets employ a 6-2 offense in the first set, and use Currey (normally a full rotation outside hitter) as the libero in the fourth, Sacramento State was able to use 11.0 team blocks to its advantage. Six different Hornets had blocks, including five from Kirby and four more from Thivierge.
Thivierge finished with nine kills, Kirby added six kills, Currey had four kills a team-high 18 digs, and Anna Schoener added four kills for the Hornets. Melcher finished with two kills, 51 assists, an ace, eight digs and two blocks. Sacramento State hit .219 while limiting the Bobcats to a .200 hitting percentage. It was Montana State which had the edge over the Hornets in kills (66-59), assists (62-57) and digs (78-66).
The Bobcats had four players finish with double figures in kills, led by Kyla Hendry’s 15. Libero Meghan Albiston led all players with 27 digs. Kylie Edinger finished with 13 kills, a .400 hitting percentage and seven blocks.
Sacramento State concludes the 2009 season next week with home matches against the top two teams in the Big Sky. That includes Friday night against Portland State (7 p.m.) and Saturday night against Eastern Washington (7 p.m.). Hornet seniors Hoyum, Melcher and Emily Trudgeon will be honored for their contributions to the program prior to Saturday’s matchup with Eastern Washington.