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VOLLEYBALL MOVES INTO FIRST PLACE TIE WITH NAIL BITING 3-2 WIN AT PORTLAND STATE
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Senior Katie Van Der Wende had a career-high 35 digs, and junior Desiree Hoyum (13 kills, 27 digs) and freshman Eryn Kirby (13 kills, 20 digs) each posted double-doubles to lead Sacramento State to a 3-2 victory (25-22, 18-25, 25-14, 18-25, 17-15) over Portland State in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Friday evening at the Stott Center.
Three weeks ago, Sacramento State was just 2-14 overall and 0-2 in the conference. However, the Hornets, who have won each of the last 11 Big Sky championships, have won won five of their last six matches, including five straight over conference competition. Sacramento State picked a great night to notch its first road win of the season as Portland State entered the match with a 12-5 overall record and had been tied for first place in the Big Sky with a 5-2 record.
The Hornets were able to pick up arguably their biggest win of the season to improve to 7-15 overall and 5-2 in the Big Sky. Sacramento State moves into a tie for first place in the conference standing with Northern Colorado, who was idle tonight. The team will travel to Eastern Washington (4-3 in league) tomorrow night for a match at 7 p.m. The Big Sky standings remain a logjam as, amazingly, only one game separates the top seven teams in the conference.
With the loss, Portland State dropped to 12-6 overall and 5-3 in the Big Sky. The Vikings had defeated Sacramento State in Portland each of the last three years prior to tonight’s Hornet win. Sacramento State improved to 33-13 all-time against the Vikings, and 13-6 in Portland.
“A few weeks ago, I did not feel like our team was as bad as our record indicated,” Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. “We got into a bit of a funk and it didn’t help that we were stuck on a long road trip (nine straight matches away from home).
“Once we got back home, the team started playing steadier volleyball, and gained more confidence as they started picking up victories. Now, I feel like we are bringing that confidence on the road, and I’m very happy with the effort and the competitiveness the team showed tonight.”
The fifth set was a nail biter as no team led by more than two points the entire way. Portland State took its largest lead of the set at 12-10, but Sacramento State quickly tied the score with consecutive kills from Kirby. Both teams went back and forth the rest of the way as Portland State saved match points at 14-13 and 15-14.
With the score tied at 15-15, Sacramento State received a kill from freshman Kelsey Elston, and Hoyum ended the match with a kill that landed just inside the back line to give Sacramento State its third five-set win in the last three weeks. In each of those five-set victories, the Hornets had to overcome late deficits to pull out the win.
Sacramento State came up large defensively as the team posted a season-best 117 digs, easily surpassing the previous high of 85. In fact, Van Der Wende’s 35 digs are tied for the eighth largest total in school history. Three different Hornets had at least 20 digs, comprised of Hoyum (career-high 27) and Kirby (career-high 20). Senior setter Rose Burke (15) and junior Melissa Melcher (career-high 12 digs) rounded out the five Hornets with double figures in digs.
Hoyum (13 kills, 27 digs, 2 blocks), Kirby (13 kills, 20 digs, 2 blocks) and Burke (6 kills, .600 hitting percentage, 48 assists and 15 digs) each posted double-doubles, and sophomore Maddison Thivierge had nine kills and a team-best four blocks. Senior Brittany Ferguson (nine kills and two blocks) and Elston (seven kills and three blocks) rounded out the five Hornets with at least seven kills.
Sacramento State hit just .150, but used its defense and tough serve to keep Portland State down. The Hornets had just two service errors despite the match lasting five sets, which was their lowest mark of the season. Sacramento State had five aces, including two from Hoyum, and one from Kirby in the fifth set that gave the Hornets a 14-13 lead. The Vikings hit .173 and tallied 111 digs and 10.0 team blocks, but had eight service errors.
PSU was led by Marija Vojnovic’s 18 kills and 23 digs, while Jalen Pendon matched Van Der Wende with 35 digs.
After tomorrow night’s match at Eastern Washington, Sacramento does not play again until a home match on Oct. 31 against Northern Colorado.
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