MONTANA WINS IN THREE, HALTS VOLLEYBALLâ€™S WINNING STREAK
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Montana’s Whitney Hobbs led all players with 16 kills and Jaimie Thibeault added 12 kills to lead Montana to a three-set sweep of Sacramento State (25-22, 25-23, 25-20) in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Saturday evening at Colberg Court.
In a contest that featured two teams with identical conference records, the victory allowed Montana (9-10, 5-3) to assume sole possession of fourth place in the Big Sky standings while Sacramento State (13-10, 4-4) dropped to fifth. The top four teams in the nine-member league reach the Big Sky Tournament, which made this match very important as both teams are the halfway point of the conference season. Portland State, Eastern Washington and Northern Colorado are all tied for first with 6-2 conference records.
Entering tonight’s match, Sacramento State had won a season-high four straight, eight of 11, and owned a 24-5 all-time record against Montana. However, the Hornets did not play their usual stingy defense, allowing Montana to hit .322 as Hobbs (16-1-27) and Thibeault (12-2-22) combined to hit .510. In fact, three Grizzly starters hit better than .420, including Taryn Wright, who hit .429 and a had a match-high five service aces.
The .322 hitting percentage was the highest mark posted against the Hornets this season, as Montana had 48 kills and just 11 errors in 115 attacks. Tonight also marked just the third time since joining the Big Sky in 1996 the Hornets have been swept at home in a Big Sky match, and second time this season (Northern Colorado).
“Montana played very well tonight,” Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. “When they passed well, they were doing things offensively that we had a hard time stopping. Overall, I don’t think we came out and gave our best effort.”
Playing without senior setter and team co-captain Melissa Melcher (flu), the Hornets allowed Montana to hit at least .297 in all three sets, including a .367 mark in the first frame. Sacramento State made late comebacks towards the end of all three sets to make things interesting, but Hobbs or Thibeault came up with huge kills each time to foil any Hornet rally. It was Hobbs that had kills at 23-21 and 24-23 to help deliver the second set victory.
Montana led the match in virtually every statistical category, including kills (48-40), hitting percentage (.322-.238), assists (46-39), digs (55-51) and team blocks (6.0-4.0). Thibeault also had a match-best four blocks to go with her 12 kills and .455 hitting percentage. Hobbs hit a match-best .556 with just one error in 27 attacks. The Grizzlies’ Brittney Brown led all players with 24 digs.
For Sacramento State, sophomore rightside hitter Eryn Kirby had 11 kills and a career-high .500 hitting percentage. The Yuba City, Calif., native had just one error in 20 attacks while adding two blocks. Freshman Janelle Currey added 10 kills, 12 digs and a .312 hitting percentage (10-0-32), Maddison Thivierge had six kills and a .294 hitting percentage, and Desiree Hoyum recorded nine kills and a team-best 13 digs. Breanne Menees had a career-high tying four aces to go along with 11 digs.
Filling in for the ailing Melcher was freshman setter Hannah Hettinga, who finished with two kills, a .500 hitting percentage, 36 assists, four digs and a block. Freshman Sydney Kordic added two aces.
Sacramento State, which has just nine matches remaining on its regular season schedule, returns to action next week for a pair of conference road tilts at Northern Arizona (Oct. 22) and Northern Colorado (Oct. 24). The Hornets are 4-3 on the road this season, including 2-2 against conference competition. On Sacramento State’s last road Big Sky road trip (Oct. 9-10), the Hornets defeated both Idaho State and Weber State.