VOLLEYBALL BEATS NORTHERN ARIZONA, PICKS UP ANOTHER ROAD WIN
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Sophomore Kelsey Elston posted match highs in kills (18), hitting percentage (.571) and blocks (6) to lead Sacramento State to a 3-1 victory (25-21, 24-26, 25-22, 25-23) over Northern Arizona in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Thursday evening at the Rolle Activity Center.
With the win, Sacramento State (14-10, 5-4) remains in fifth place in the Big Sky standings, but the team is now just a half game back of fourth place, and a game and a half behind first place. With only seven conference contests remaining on the schedule, the win was huge for the Hornets as the team remained in striking distance of fourth place. The top four teams in the conference reach the Big Sky Tournament, a postseason event the Hornets have reached every year since joining the league in 1996.
In addition, the Hornets continued to feel comfortable playing away from their home floor. Sacramento State is now 8-4 away from home and 5-3 when playing on its opponent’s home floor. That includes a 3-2 road mark inside of conference play. Coupled with their win over Northern Arizona earlier this season in Sacramento, the Hornets pulled off the season sweep of the Lumberjacks, who dropped to 6-12 overall and 3-6 in the Big Sky with tonight’s loss.
Sacramento State has now won 11 of its last 12 meeting against Northern Arizona and is 28-7 all-time against the Lumberjacks.
Elston was the best player on the floor for either team all night as her 18 kills accompanied just two errors in 28 attacks. Her 18 kills, 28 attacks and .571 hitting percentage were all career highs for the middle hitter from Rocklin. It was kills from Elston that gained the final points of the first and third sets. In fact, with the Hornets leading just 23-22 in a tightly contested third set, Elston came up with a solo block and a kill on back-to-back points to give the team a 2-1 lead.
The match was close the entire way, and included 22 tie scores and late drama in each frame. In the second set, Sacramento State blew a 22-18 lead and allowed NAU to end the frame on an 8-2 run. The Hornets ended the third set on a 9-2 run to overcome a 20-16 deficit, winning each of the final three points after the score was tied at 22-22. In the fourth, Sacramento State held what appeared to be a comfortable 24-21 lead before NAU ran off two straight points to cut the deficit to 24-23. That’s when junior Maddison Thivierge ripped a free ball for the kill that ended the match.
In a contest where both teams put up similar numbers, Sacramento State had a good sized advantage in team blocks (10.-6.0), as five different Hornets had at least two blocks. That included Elston, Thivierge (3), setter Melissa Melcher (3), Janelle Currey (2) and Eryn Kirby (2).
Elston led three Hornets with double figures in kills, which included Hoyum (13) and Currey (11). Hoyum gutted out a foot injury that prevented her from jump serving to finish with 13 kills, seven digs and an ace. Currey recorded her Big Sky-leading 15th double-double of the season, notching 11 kills, 13 digs and two aces.
Melcher had all but two of Sacramento State’s assists, finishing with 53. Kirby had seven kills and four digs, and Sydney Kordic finished with two aces. Breanne Menees added 12 digs.
For Northern Arizona, Jen Wilson had 15 kills and a .300 hitting percentage, and Kelli Dallman finished with 13 kills and a team-best .476 hitting percentage. Both teams combined for just 105 digs in a match which was light on defense.
Sacramento State returns to action this Saturday, Oct. 24, to play Northern Colorado, one of the three teams tied atop the Big Sky standings (with Portland State and Eastern Washington). The Bears swept the Hornets earlier this season in Sacramento, and have won five straight over Sacramento State dating back to 2007. That is the longest stretch of consecutive wins over the Hornets by a Big Sky opponent.