VOLLEYBALLâ€™S SEASON ENDS WITH LOSS AT EASTERN WASHINGTON
CHENEY, Wash. – Sacramento State’s playoff hopes were dashed as the Hornets hit just .048 in a 3-0 loss (25-17, 25-14, 25-17) to Eastern Washington in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Saturday evening at Reese Court.
The loss ended Sacramento State’s season as the team finishes with a 15-17 overall record and an 8-8 mark in the Big Sky. The Hornets, who entered the day in contention for a Big Sky Tournament berth, were eliminated from contention with the loss. Portland State (14-2), Northern Colorado (14-2), Idaho State (9-7) and Montana (9-7) will play in the postseason event while the Hornets finish in fifth place. The top four teams in the nine-member league reach the Big Sky Tournament, which begins next weekend.
Sacramento State’s inability to win on the road was one of the biggest factors in the Hornets failing to reach the Big Sky Tournament for just the second time since joining the league in 1996. Sacramento State finished the season 7-1 at home against conference teams, but just 1-7 on the road. The Hornets had been riding high after back-to-back sweeps of Montana and Montana State at home last weekend, but combined to win just one set in road losses to Portland State and Eastern Washington this week.
Sacramento State, which was playing without projected starters at setter and middle hitter all year, will return every player in 2011. In fact, this year’s Hornet roster averaged just 19 years of age and the team routinely started at least four underclassmen.
With the victory, Eastern Washington finished at 8-19 overall and 7-9 in the conference.
The Eagles won all three sets handily as Sacramento State hit .049, .056 and .041, respectively, in sets one through three. The Hornets had nearly as many errors (21) as kills (27) while also finishing with just two aces and 4.0 team blocks. Junior outside hitter Eryn Kirby (12 kills, eight digs) and freshman rightside hitter Kayla Beal (seven kills, team-best .417 hitting percentage) were the only Sacramento State players with more than four kills. Libero Breanne Menees (17) and setter Katie Aprile (17 assists, 11 digs) both posted double-figure digs.
Four different Sacramento State players finished with negative hitting percentages as all 12 players on the active roster appeared in tonight’s match.
Conversely, Eastern Washington hit .214 as a team while tallying 11 more kills (38-27), four more aces (6-2) and 12 more digs (66-54) than Sacramento State. The Eagles were led by Shelby Puckett, who had 10 kills and a match-high .588 hitting percentage. Alysha Cook added 11 kills and Lindsey Petroni a match-high 20 digs for the Eagles.