GREELEY, Colo. -- Northern Colorado hit a robust .446 while limiting the Hornets to a .090 hitting percentage on the way to a three-set sweep (25-12, 25-15, 25-13) of Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference volleyball match Monday evening at the Butler-Hancock Pavilion.
The .446 hitting percentage was easily the highest mark by a Sacramento State opponent this season while the Hornets' .090 percentage was their second lowest output of the year. Sacramento State combined to score just 40 points all evening, and the team's largest lead of the match was 5-2 early in the second set.
With four matches remaining in the regular season, Sacramento State (13-14, 8-8) still holds down the sixth and final spot into the Big Sky Tournament, but seventh-place Northern Colorado (11-15, 7-9) moved to within one game of the Hornets.
The top six teams in the 11-member Big Sky qualify for the postseason event, and the Bears own the tiebreaker over the Hornets should the two teams finish in a tie for sixth place. Montana is currently in fifth place with a 9-7 league record.
After winning four straight, Sacramento State has now dropped three straight matches, and will embark upon its last, and biggest, homestand of the year later this week. The Hornets will host Idaho State on Friday, and Weber State on Saturday. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m.
In what has turned into a three-team battle for the final two playoff spots, both Sacramento State and Northern Colorado have two matches remaining at home and two on the road, while Montana has three road contests and one home match left. In fact, that one match at home will come against Sacramento State on Nov. 23.
In tonight's contest, Northern Colorado dominated in every statistical category except team blocks where the Hornets held a 4.0-3.0 advantage. Five of the Bears' six starters hit better than .390, and three finished with double figures in kills comprised of Kendra Cunningham (11 kills, .391), Andrea Spaustat (11 kills, .421) and Alyssa Wilson (10 kills, .476). Cheyanne Lyons added seven kills and a .778 hitting percentage.
For the Hornets, freshman Morgan Stanley was the only player to finish with more than six kills and the only Hornet to hit better than .167. The outside hitter had 10 kills, five digs and a .269 hitting percentage. Senior Kayla Beal added six kills and two blocks, and senior Katie Aprile led the team with nine digs.
After this week's homestand against Idaho State and Weber State, the Hornets close the regular season next week on the road at Montana State (Nov. 21) and Montana (Nov. 23).