VOLLEYBALL FALLS TO NORTHERN COLORADO IN FIVE-SET GRINDER
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Northern Colorado’s Kelley Arnold posted five of her match-best 24 kills in the fifth set to lead the Bears to a 3-2 victory (15-25, 33-31, 23-25, 25-17, 16-14) over Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Saturday evening at Colberg Court.
In a back-and-forth match that either team could have easily won, there were four tie scores and four lead changes in the final set. In fact, it was a 3-0 run towards the end of the set that gave the Hornets a 14-13 lead and match point. However, Northern Colorado, which jumped out to an 8-4 lead, received a kill from Arnold to tie the score at 14-14. The Bears then received a kill from Ashley Lichtenberg to take a 15-14 lead and a Hornet attack error ended a match that lasted two hours and 12 minutes.
Sacramento State could have just as easily swept the match as the team blew a 20-15 lead in a second frame that Northern Colorado would go on to win by a 33-31 score. The Hornets squandered three set points during the set, and the Bears missed out on four set points before a kill from Arnold put the frame away.
With the win, Northern Colorado remains in first place in the league standings with a 17-5 overall record and an 8-1 league mark. The Bears sit a half game ahead of second-place Portland State (8-2) and two games ahead of third-place Montana (6-3).
With six league matches remaining on the schedule, Sacramento State (12-13, 5-5) remains in a two-way tie for fourth place with Idaho State (5-5) which fell in four sets tonight to Eastern Washington. The top four teams in the nine-member league qualify for the Big Sky Tournament (Nov. 26-27). The Hornets defeated Idaho State earlier this year in Sacramento by a 3-2 score, but the two teams will play again on Saturday, Nov. 6 in Pocatello, Idaho.
The loss ended Sacramento State’s eight-match home winning streak and gave the Hornets their first conference loss at home (5-1). Sacramento State had also won three straight five-set decisions prior to tonight’s loss and the team is now 6-4 in five setters this year. In addition, Northern Colorado has now won eight straight matches against the Hornets dating back to 2007, the second longest active losing streak against any team (the Hornets have dropped 10 straight to Stanford).
The Hornets hit .312 and .326 in their victorious first and third sets, but just .137, .103 and .125, respectively, in the second, fourth and fifth sets. Northern Colorado was better statistically than Sacramento State in kills (76-62), hitting percentage (.276-.203), assists (71-60) and digs (89-74).
The Hornets had five players with at least seven kills, led by Currey’s 19 kills, 11 digs and four blocks. Junior Kelsey Elston added 10 kills, three blocks and a .391 hitting percentage, and junior Eryn Kirby tacked on 13 kills and 14 digs. Sophomore Olivia Moss posted career bests in kills (7) and blocks (6), and she struck for a match-high .500 hitting percentage (7-0-14). Currey’s double-double was her Big Sky-best 15th of the season while Kirby posted her eighth of the year.
Defensively, four Hornets had double figures in digs, including junior Breanne Menees (match-high 24) and sophomore Sydney Kordic (15). Four different Sacramento State players had at least three blocks, including Kayla Beal who finished with four.
Arnold’s 24 kills came with a .378 hitting percentage, 18 digs and four blocks. Brittany Crenshaw (15 kills, .419 hitting percentage and five blocks), Lichtenberg (13 kills) and Julie Stephenson (10 kills, 17 digs) also posted double figures in kills.
Sacramento State is idle next week, and does not play again until a non-conference matchup at Pacific on Tuesday, Nov. 2. The Hornets will play their annual alumni match on Saturday, Oct. 30, at 2 p.m. on Colberg Court.