RESILIENT VOLLEYBALL BEATS PORTLAND IN FIVE, FINISHES TOURNAMENT WITH A 2-1 RECORD
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Despite playing its third five-set match in a little more than a 24-hour span, Sacramento State used 16.5 team blocks to highlight a 3-2 (21-25, 25-21, 25-17, 21-25, 15-13) victory over Portland in the third and final round of the Corvallis Volleyball Invitational late Saturday afternoon.
Coupled with the Hornets’ 3-2 victory over host Oregon State (1-1) earlier today, Sacramento State finished its season-opening tournament with a 2-1 record. The Hornets could have just as easily been 3-0, but lost a 19-17 fifth-set decision against Illinois State yesterday in which the team squandered two match points.
Illinois State won the tournament by virtue of its 3-0 record, followed by Sacramento State (2-1), Portland (1-2) and Oregon State (0-3). Sophomore outside hitter Janelle Currey and junior middle hitter Kelsey Elston represented the Hornets on the all-tournament team. Currey averaged 4.13 kills and 3.53 digs per set during the tournament while Elston averaged 1.60 kills and 1.13 blocks per set to go along with five service aces.
What makes Sacramento State’s performance this weekend so impressive is the number of obstacles the program faced. Here is a breakdown of just a few....
1. The Hornets were playing without the services of two projected starters (sophomore setter Hannah Hettinga and senior middle hitter Maddison Thivierge). Both players have knee injuries and will likely miss the season.
2. Junior Anna Schoener played as one of the team’s two setters this weekend after never playing the position in her career. She was projected as the team’s starting right side hitter this season, but injuries forced the move to setter.
3. Sacramento State combined to play six hours and 36 minutes of volleyball over a 26-and-a-half hour span. That included three five-set matches with each lasting at least an hour and 53 minutes.
4. The Hornets finished the Portland match with three freshmen on the floor (setter Katie Aprile, middle hitter Ashley Newcomb and rightside hitter Kayla Beal).
“I’m very pleased with our team’s effort this weekend,” Sacramento State third-year head coach Ruben Volta said. “After a long match with Oregon State, we had just one hour to rest before warming up for Portland. I didn’t want (the Portland match to go) five sets for stamina purposes, but our team responded. They kept fighting, and grinding out points against a Portland team that really attacks well.”
Despite Portland accumulating 18 more kills than Sacramento State (63-45), including a 10-6 advantage in the fifth set, the Hornets were able to pull out the victory behind 16.5 team blocks and nine aces. Six different Hornets had at least three blocks, including a match-high eight from Elston. In that fifth set, the Hornets had three team blocks, and won the frame despite recording just six kills (with no errors in 21 attempts).
Sacramento State jumped out to a 9-4 lead in a fifth frame that would eventually produce five ties and two lead changes. After a 7-1 run gave the Pilots an 11-10 lead, the Hornets responded by winning three straight points on a Beal kill, a combo block from Beal and Elston, and a Cayti Crowton kill, respectively. Sacramento State never trailed the rest of the way, but Portland did tie the score at 13-13. An Elston kill and a Kate Bostwick attack error finally ended the set and match. Although the Pilots had 10 kills in the frame, the Hornet defense also forced the team into six errors in just 23 attempts.
For the third-straight match, Currey led the Hornets in kills as she finished with 16. The sophomore co-captain had just two errors in 44 attempts, finishing with a .318 hitting percentage to go along with three aces. Beal, who had just one kill through the first two matches, responded with nine kills, a .421 hitting percentage (9-1-19) and four blocks. The local product from Dixon High School had a monster second set in which she posted five kills without an error in six attacks.
The six Hornets with at least three blocks were comprised of Elston (8), Schoener (7), Beal (4), Newcomb (3), Crowton (3) and Olivia Moss (3). Newcomb also had four kills and a .429 hitting percentage, and Elston added a match-high tying three aces. Junior libero Breanne Menees had 21 more digs, has recorded 20-plus digs in all three matches thus far, and is now averaging 4.87 digs per set.
Aprile had 22 assists and seven digs, and Schoener tallied 16 assists to go along with her seven blocks.
Sacramento State limited Portland to just a .140 hitting percentage, including 38 errors in 178 total attacks. The Pilots held sizeable advantages in kills (63-45), assists (58-40) and digs (79-65), but could not put away the pesky Hornets. In fact, Sacramento State failed to produce more kills than Portland in any of the five sets during the match.
The Hornets will now embark upon a season-long five-match homestand which begins on Wednesday, Sept. 1, when the team hosts Santa Clara at 7 p.m. The team will then host the eighth-annual Sacramento State Invitational on Sept. 3-4. The Hornets will play three matches over two days during the tournament. For tournament info, click here.