GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- North Dakota's Ronni Munkeby and Lisa Parlich both had 12 kills and hit better than .400 to lead UND to a three-set sweep (25-23, 25-17, 25-19) of Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Saturday evening at Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
The loss dropped the Hornets (13-13, 8-7) into sixth place in the conference standings with just five matches remaining in the regular season. The top six spots in the 11-team Big Sky will qualify for the Big Sky Tournament on Nov. 29-30 in Portland. Sacramento State is just a half game back of fifth-place Montana (9-7) and two games ahead of seventh-place Northern Colorado (6-9).
Sacramento State and Northern Colorado will play each other Monday night in Greeley in what has shaped up to be one of the biggest matches of the season for both teams. Should the Bears win, they would inch within one game of Sacramento State in a fight for what may turn out to be the last spot into the Big Sky Tournament.
The victory allowed North Dakota (19-9, 14-2) to remain all alone atop the Big Sky standings. UND also defeated the Hornets in Sacramento earlier this season, and has now beaten Sacramento State on four straight occasions dating back to last year. That matches the Hornets' longest current losing streak against any Big Sky team (the Hornets have also dropped four straight to Idaho State).
Sacramento State had its best opportunity to win a set in the first frame when kills on back-to-back points from Courtney Dietrich drew the team within, 24-23, of North Dakota's lead. However, Munkeby finished things with her eighth kill of the set to give UND a 1-0 lead. The Hornets didn't muster much of a threat in the second or third sets.
North Dakota hit .324 while limiting the Hornets to a .176 percentage. UND held statistical advantages in every category, including big differences in kills (46-36) and aces (7-2).
For the Hornets, senior rightside hitter Kayla Beal finished with seven kills, a team-high 13 digs and match-best five blocks. Freshman Morgan Stanley had a team-high nine kills to go along with six digs and two blocks, and Dietrich had eight kills, three blocks and a .286 hitting percentage. Five different Hornets had at least five kills, but no one cracked into double figures in that category.
Setter Hannah Hettinga had two kills, 29 assists and a .667 hitting percentage while both Sloan Lovett and Chelcy Motes had five kills apiece.
Munkeby's 12 kills accompanied a .526 hitting percentage while Parlich had 12 kills and a .409 percentage. They were joined in double figures by Anna Pioske's 11 kills.
After the Hornets' match at Northern Colorado on Monday night, Sacramento State will embark upon its last homestand of the season which features matchups against Idaho State on Friday, and Weber State on Saturday.