VOLLEYBALL SWEEPS MONTANA, CLINCHES BIG SKY TOURNAMENT BERTH
Junior defensive specialist Sydney Kordic posted a season-high 18 digs
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State’s Eryn Kirby had a match-best 15 kills and four different Hornets hit better than .340 on the way to a three-set sweep (25-17, 25-19, 25-16) of Montana in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Saturday afternoon at Colberg Court.
On a day when all five Hornet seniors were honored prior to the match, and with Sacramento State facing its biggest contest of the season, the Hornets played impressively in every facet of the game. Sacramento State dug nearly everything in sight (67 digs to Montana’s 50), attacked well (.286 hitting percentage), blocked well (9.0 team blocks), served well (8 aces, only three errors) and passed well.
Today also clinched the Hornets a spot in the Big Sky Tournament, which will be played Nov. 25-26 in Portland. Regardless of what happens next week in Sacramento State’s final two regular-season matches, the Hornets 16-13, 9-5) can finish no worse than a tie for fourth place in the league standings, and would own the tiebreaker over Idaho State in that possible scenario.
In fact, the Big Sky Tournament field is now set despite there being a week left in the season. Northern Colorado, Portland State, Eastern Washington and Sacramento State will each be playing for the Big Sky Tournament championship and automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The top four teams in the nine-member league reach the Big Sky’s postseason event, and seeding in the tournament will be decided based on next week’s outcomes. If the season ended today, Northern Colorado would be the No. 1 seed, Portland State the No. 2, Sacramento State the No. 3 seed and Eastern Washington the No. 4 seed.
The Hornets will be making their first trip to the Big Sky Tournament since the 2008 season.
The Hornets and Eagles both have 9-5 records, and Sacramento State currently owns the tiebreaker between the two teams. Sacramento State will wrap up the regular season next week on the road against both Eastern Washington (Nov. 18) and Portland State (Nov. 19).
“We played really well today in all aspects of the game,” Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. “Senior Day is always a big match and the playoff implications made it even bigger, and the team really responded by putting forth a great effort.”
Sacramento State held healthy statistical advantages over Montana in kills (44-31), hitting percentage (.286-.109), assists (40-25), digs (67-50) and service aces (8-4). The victory also avenged a loss to Montana (9-13, 6-8) suffered by the Hornets earlier this year in Missoula.
Not only did Kirby have five more kills than any player in the match, she also hit .344 (15-4-32) with 13 digs. She was one of four Hornets to hit better than .340, including setter Anna Schoener (five kills, .833 hitting percentage and four blocks), middle blocker Kelsey Elston (nine kills, .389 hitting percentage and four blocks) and rightside hitter Kayla Beal (seven kills, .385 hitting percentage and three blocks).
Defensively for Sacramento State, Sydney Kordic was all over the floor, tallying a match and season-best 18 digs. She was joined in double figures by Breanne Menees (13), Janelle Currey (13) and Kirby. Six different Hornets had at least one ace, including two each from Kordic and setter Hannah Hettinga. Middle blocker Maddison Thivierge had three blocks and was one of four Sacramento State players with at least three blocks.
For Montana, Brooke Bray led all players with seven blocks while Amy Roberts chipped in 10 kills.
Prior to today’s match, Sacramento State seniors Elston, Kirby, Menees, Schoener and Thivierge were honored for their contributions to the program.