STANFORD, Calif. – Senior Missie Stidham recorded 21 kills to help lead Sacramento State to a 3-1 victory over Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship, Friday evening at Maples Pavilion. The Hornets overcame a first game loss to win the match, 23-30, 30-25, 30-24, 30-17.
With the victory, Sacramento State advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1998 season. The Hornets will take on either No. 1 seed and tournament host Stanford or Santa Clara in the second round of the Big Dance tomorrow night at 8 p.m. inside Maples Pavilion. Sacramento State has never advanced past the second round of the NCAA Div. I Tournament.
Sacramento State, which is making its sixth straight tournament appearance and 10th in the last 11 years, played an unranked opponent (Minnesota) in the first round of the tournament for just the second time in the team’s 11 Div. I appearances. In the Hornets’ other meeting with an unranked opponent (1998 vs. Houston), Sacramento State won that match as well.
The Hornets, who will play in the second round for just the second time since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991, improved to 29-7 overall this season. Sacramento State avenged a first round NCAA Tournament loss to Minnesota during the 1999 season. The two teams were playing each other for just the third time overall, and first since 1999. Minnesota’s season ends with an 18-13 overall record.
Leading two games to one, both teams traded points early on in game four before Minnesota took an 8-7 lead. From that point, the Hornets went on a 6-2 run to take a 14-10 advantage. The Golden Gophers pulled within two (16-14) only to see Sacramento State produce a 7-0 run to take control of the match. During the run, the Hornets received consecutive kills from Michelle Franz, Lindsay Haupt, Desiree Hoyum and Stidham, and were aided by three straight hitting errors by Minnesota.
The Gophers made the most of its size advantage by outblocking Sacramento State, 7.0-3.0 to win game one. Minnesota’s starting lineup featured five players that stood 6-foot-1 or above, including Jessy Jones (6-3) and Kyla Roehrig (6-4).
The Hornets adjusted over the next three games as each team collected seven blocks in the final three frames.
Stidham and Haupt overcame slow starts to the match to each finish in double-figure kills. Stidham’s 21 kills were the most by any player on the floor and marked her third straight match with at least 20 kills and 17th time this season. Haupt finished with 13 kills, a .308 hitting percentage and a team-best seven blocks. Franz was also pivotal in the middle with 14 kills, a .300 hitting percentage and three blocks.
Freshman Chelsea Goodsell posted 15 digs and her tough serving in the third game gave the Hornets momentum they would carry the rest of the match. Midway through the third, the Hornets were trailing 13-10 when Goodsell stepped to the service line, and used her line drive serve to run off five straight points. By the time Minnesota finally won a point to stop the bleeding, the Hornets were leading 15-14 and never trailed the rest of the game. In fact, Sacramento State trailed just once more during the rest of the match (8-7 early in the fourth game).
Goodsell was joined in double-figure digs by senior Jennifer Ferguson (team-high 17), Stidham (14) and junior setter Rose Burke (14 digs, 48 assists, 2 kills and 3 blocks). The Hornets limited Minnesota to a .102 hitting percentage, and used an effective serve to keep the much larger Gophers from effectively running their offense.
Minnesota was paced by Brook Dieter with 17 kills. Lauren Gibbemeyer and Roehrig contributed 12 and 11, respectively.
Tomorrow night’s match can be heard live on www.hornetsports.com, and Stanford’s website (www.gostanford.com) will offer live video and stats for free.