ANOTHER FIVE-SET LOSS FOR VOLLEYBALL, THIS TIME AT IDAHO STATE
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Idaho State’s Britta Bartschi led all players with 14 kills and Sacramento State hit just .140 as the Bengals defeated the Hornets, 3-2 (18-25, 25-20, 14-25, 25-20, 15-12), in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Friday afternoon at Reed Gym.
After winning two of the first three sets, including a 25-14 victory in the third, Sacramento State combined for just 15 kills and hit .044 over the last two sets. The 15 kills were less than the team put up in the first set alone (16). In the fifth and decisive set, Sacramento State hit .000 with seven kills and seven errors in 37 attacks.
With the loss, Sacramento State dropped to 8-19 overall and 6-5 in the Big Sky. Playing a team the Hornets usually dominate, Sacramento State could not overcome its struggles in the final two sets. The Hornets had been 24-2 all-time against Idaho State and carried an eight-match winning streak into today’s match. That included a 3-0 victory in Sacramento earlier this year.
The loss was a huge blow to Sacramento State’s positioning in the Big Sky standings. The Hornets remain in fourth place in the Big Sky, but now sit just a half game ahead of Montana (6-6) and one game ahead of sixth-place Northern Arizona (5-6) and Weber State (5-6).
Sacramento State will play at Weber State tomorrow, but the team is now 1-10 on the road and each of its next three matches will come away from home. The top six teams in the nine-member conference advance to the Big Sky Tournament, a place the Hornets have been every year since joining the league in 1996. In fact, Sacramento State has never finished anything worse than second place in the conference.
With the victory, Idaho State won its fourth match in a row while improving to 9-17 overall and 4-8 in the Big Sky. Each of the team’s four victories during its winning streak have come at home and the Bengals improved to 6-3 inside their friendly confines.
Five-set matches have not been kind to the Hornets of late. In fact, the team has now dropped three straight five-setters. Since Big Sky play began, the Hornets have gone to five sets with six different conference opponents, winning three and losing three.
In today’s fifth set, Idaho State never trailed, jumping out to a 6-2 advantage and leading by at least two points the rest of the way. The Hornets fought back from a 13-7 deficit to close to within, 14-12, but a kill from Bartschi ended the match. Freshman Eryn Kirby (3 kills, .200 hitting percentage) was the only Sacramento State player to hit better than .000 in the set.
Sacramento State had four players with double figures in kills, comprised of senior Desiree Hoyum (14 kills, team-best 24 digs), sophomore Maddison Thivierge (12 kills, four blocks), freshman Kelsey Elston (season-high tying 11 kills, match-high eight blocks) and Kirby (10 kills, 14 digs). Elston was the only one of those four players to hit better than .225 as the freshman finished with a team-high .389 hitting percentage. Melissa Melcher continued her recent surge in digs as the junior finished with a career-high 23. She has now combined for 94 digs over her last eight matches.
For Idaho State, Bartschi (14) and Jaclyn Hone (13 kills, 17 digs) were the only Bengals with more than eight kills. Sacramento State finished the match with more kills (55-50) and digs (83-76) than Idaho State, but could not overcome its miscues in the final two sets.
Sacramento State returns to action tomorrow night when it travels to Ogden, Utah, to take on Weber State at 6:30 p.m. PST.