VOLLEYBALL TO PLAY EASTERN WASHINGTON SATURDAY AT 7 P.M. FOR THE BIG SKY CHAMPIONSHIP
SACRAMENTO, Calif.. -- Senior Atlee Hubbard led all players with 15 kills and 17 digs, and junior Michelle Franz added eight kills, nine digs and a match-high six blocks to lead Sacramento State to a three-game sweep of Northern Colorado (30-21, 30-18, 30-25) in a Big Sky Conference Volleyball Tournament semifinal match Friday evening at the Hornets Nest.
With the victory, Sacramento State advances to the Big Sky Tournament championship match for the seventh-straight season, and 10th time overall since joining the conference in 1996. Also for the seventh straight year, the Hornets will face Eastern Washington in the championship match tomorrow night at 7 p.m., as the Eagles swept Portland State in tonight’s other semifinal match. The Hornets have defeated Eastern Washington four straight years in the Big Sky Tournament championship match and five times in the last six years.
The winner of tomorrow’s championship will receive an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, a place the Hornets have been eight times in the last nine years. Sacramento State will attempt to win its fifth-consecutive Big Sky Tournament championship and eighth since joining the league. The Hornets, who won this year’s Big Sky regular season crown and the right to host the tournament, have won either the conference’s regular season and/or tournament championship each of the last 10 years.
Owner of the nation’s 17th-best winning percentage, Sacramento State (29-5) improved to 17-3 all-time at the Big Sky Tournament and 10 of those victories have come in three-game sweeps.
Sacramento State has now won six straight and 17 of the last 18 matches this year. That includes a perfect 3-0 mark against Northern Colorado. In addition, the Hornets have won 14 in a row on their home floor. The Bears (13-16) had their season come to an end with the loss. In its first season in the Big Sky, Northern Colorado advanced to the semifinals after knocking off Montana in yesterday’s quarterfinal match.
Sacramento State never trailed during the entire contest, limiting Northern Colorado to a .094 hitting percentage and tallying 22 more kills (56-34) than the Bears. The Hornets hit .298 and had little trouble against a Northern Colorado team that entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed.
Hubbard’s Big Sky-best 21st double-double (kills and digs) accompanied a .257 hitting percentage and three blocks. Franz hit .316 (8-2-19) as she was one of four Hornets to hit at least .333. Junior middle hitter Lindsay Haupt had 11 kills, a .500 hitting percentage (11-3-16) and two solo blocks. The Etna, Calif., native raised her season hitting percentage to .339, the best mark in the Big Sky. Hubbard, Franz and Haupt were each named first team all-Big Sky earlier this week.
Sacramento State senior Leah Klemenhagen had eight kills and a .429 hitting percentage, sophomore setter Rose Burke added 30 assists and three aces, senior Shannon Roland tallied five kills and a .333 hitting percentage, and senior libero Kristin Lutes had 12 digs.
Northern Colorado’s Devon Crotteau (13 kills, .333 hitting percentage) was the only Bear with more than eight kills as the team had 34 kills with 22 errors in 128 attacks.