VOLLEYBALL WINS FIFTH STRAIGHT HOME MATCH, DEALS PORTLAND STATE ITS FIRST CONFERENCE LOSS
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State outside hitters Janelle Currey (5) and Eryn Kirby (3) combined for eight kills in the decisive fifth set as the Hornets defeated Portland State, 3-2 (23-25, 25-23, 25-22, 12-25, 15-12) in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Saturday evening at Colberg Court.
Coupled with last night’s four-set win over Eastern Washington, Sacramento State has now won five straight home matches and improved to 9-10 overall and 2-2 in the conference. The Hornets also dealt Portland State (8-7, 4-1) its first conference loss of the year. The Vikings, who won last year’s Big Sky regular season championship, had won five in a row prior to tonight.
In the 50th meeting between the two teams, the Hornets improved to 35-15 all-time against Portland State.
In that fifth set, Portland State jumped out to a 6-4 lead before a Kirby kill, a Sydney Kordic ace and a Kayla Beal/Kelsey Elston combo block, respectively, gave the Hornets a 7-6 lead. Sacramento State never trailed again the rest of the way as Beal’s season-high 18th kill fittingly ended the set and match.
The Hornets lost their starting libero (junior Breanne Menees) to injury midway through the first set, and Kordic filled in at libero the rest of the way, responding with a career-high 30 digs. In fact, Kordic’s 30 digs accounted for 40 percent of the team’s total output of 75 digs.
“The last two nights, we’ve played steady, hard and aggressive volleyball,” Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. “When Portland State really began to play well, we stayed composed and responded aggressively. Tonight was truly a team effort, and multiple players stepped up and played well.”
Beal’s 18 kills were five more than she’s had in any match this season, and the Hornets improved to 5-1 when she finishes with double figures in kills. The freshman rightside hitter hit .250 (18-8-40) with three aces, three digs and three blocks. Currey had struggled with just seven kills through the fourth set, but responded in a big way with five kills, two digs and a .400 hitting percentage (5-1-10) in the fifth frame. Kirby (14 kills, 12 digs and four blocks) and Currey (12 kills, 15 digs) posted double-doubles.
The Hornets finished with 13.0 team blocks, including six from Elston and three from sophomore Olivia Moss. Because of the injury, Menees finished with three digs, ending her run of recording at least 12 digs in every match this year.
Portland State finished with seven more kills (65-58), 25 more digs (100-75) and hit for a better percentage (.227-.149) than Sacramento State, but the Hornets won points when it mattered most. In addition, Sacramento State finished with seven aces compared to just one for the Vikings. Two of those aces came in the fifth set. Freshman setter Katie Aprile’s 30 assists were a season high as she also finished with an ace and five digs.
Sacramento State did a good job of neutralizing Portland State outside hitter Whitney Phillips, who entered the match as the Big Sky’s leader in kills. Phillips did have 17 kills, but was forced into 13 errors in 69 attacks, good for just a .058 hitting percentage. Her 69 attacks accounted for nearly 40 percent of the Vikings’ 176 total swings. Joining Phillips with double-figure kills for Portland State were Megan Ellis (18), Lana Zielke (10, .562 hitting percentage) and Garyn Schlatter (10, .500 hitting percentage).
The Hornets continue their four-match homestand next week against Idaho State (Friday, Oct. 8) and Weber State (Saturday, Oct. 9). The Hornets’ current five-match home winning streak is the team’s longest since the 2007 season.