VOLLEYBALL BEATS BAKERSFIELD, WILL PLAY FOR TOURNEY TITLE TONIGHT

VOLLEYBALL BEATS BAKERSFIELD, WILL PLAY FOR TOURNEY TITLE TONIGHT

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Sloan Lovett had 15 kills and a .394 hitting percentage and Madeline Cannon added 14 kills and a .407 percentage to lead Sacramento State to a 3-1 victory (18-25, 25-17, 25-10, 25-19) over CSU Bakersfield in the second round of the Cal Poly ShareSLO Volleyball Tournament Saturday morning.

With the win, the Hornets improved to 2-0 at the two-day tournament, which included a 3-2 victory last night against San Jose State. Sacramento State will play host Cal Poly tonight at 7 p.m., and a victory would give the Hornets the tournament title.

Sacramento State (4-6 overall) had entered the tournament on a four-match losing streak, but the young Hornet squad, which features a school-record eight freshmen, seems to have found their stride over the last 24 hours. Two big reasons for success in the tournament thus far has been the team's serving and blocking. In fact, over the last two matches, the Hornets have combined for 21 aces and a robust 29.0 team blocks.

Sacramento State had 11 aces yesterday and 10 more today after reaching double figures in that category just once through the first eight matches. In addition, after failing to tally anything more than eight blocks in its first eight matches, the team posted 16.0 team blocks yesterday and 13.0 more this morning.

"At practice, we've really talked about, and focused on our defense," Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. "It all starts with the serve and block to get the defense rolling, and we did both very well today. Our serving really frustrated Bakersfield and made things easier for us to execute. We are young, but the team is learning and continues to get better."

After dropping the first set, the Hornets jumped out to leads of 13-5 in the first set, 12-3 in the second set and 16-11 in the third set, and were never really threatened in any of the three frames. After hitting .053 in the first set, the Hornets hit .364, .524 and .348, respectively, the final three frames.

Sacramento State had three players finish with double figures in kills, comprised of junior Sloan Lovett (match-best 15 kills to go along with a .394 hitting percentage and career-high five blocks), sophomore Madeline Cannon (season-high 14 kills to go with a .407 hitting percentage and five blocks) and junior Lauren Aikels (career-high 13 kills to go with three digs). Like last night, Aikels was playing in the front row for the injured Morgan Stanley, who is usually a full-rotation outside hitter.

Sophomore Courtney Dietrich had six kills, a .333 hitting percentage and match-best seven blocks, freshman Shannon Boyle added eight kills and four blocks, and freshman setter Kennedy Kurtz had 47 assists, three aces and eight digs.

Of the Hornets' 10 aces, Kurtz, Lovett and Lexie Skalbeck had three apiece. Skalbeck also had a team-high 18 digs. Freshman Brigitte Murdock finished with seven digs and Stanley had six digs.

The Hornets hit .297 as a team (second best percentage of the year) and limited Bakersfield to a .147 percentage. The Roadrunners did not have a player register double figures in kills.