Big Sky Conference standings
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- In a battle of the Big Sky Conference's two unbeaten teams, it was Sacramento State that prevailed behind a strong defensive effort as the Hornets knocked off North Dakota, 3-2 (25-20, 24-26, 25-15, 22-25, 15-12), on Thursday evening at the Nest.
With the victory, Sacramento State (14-7, 5-0) is now the only team in the 12-member Big Sky with a perfect league record. The Hornets remain atop the Big Sky's South Division, and extended their home winning streak against conference opposition to 19 straight, a stretch which dates back to 2015.
North Dakota, which entered the match with a 19-2 overall record and 4-0 conference mark, saw its six-match winning streak come to an end. In fact, the Fighting Hawks had won 15 of their last 16 matches and are ranked 55th out of 334 Div. I programs according to the latest NCAA RPI report. Despite the loss, North Dakota still sits in a tie for first place with Idaho in the North Division.
The team with the best league record at the end of the regular season (regardless of division) will host this year's Big Sky Tournament on Nov. 16-18. Should the teams at the top of both divisions finish with the same record, there will be a head-to-head outcome tiebreaker and tonight marks the only time Sacramento State and North Dakota will face each other during the regular season.
The Hornets are now 5-0 in Big Sky for the first time since the 2007 season, and for just the third time since the program joined the league in 1996. The 2000 and 2007 squads also accomplished the feat.
Sacramento State was also able to defeat North Dakota inside the Nest for the first time since Oct. 29, 1988. Since that time, the Hornets had dropped each of the three meetings between the two teams in Sacramento. The Hornets also avenged a 3-2 loss (15-13 in the fifth set) to North Dakota in Grand Forks in the teams' only meeting a year ago.
Sacramento State finished with a season-high 108 digs to go along with 12.0 team blocks as North Dakota was limited to a .132 hitting percentage. That included Hornet outside hitter Shannon Boyle finishing with a career-high 35 digs, shattering her previous high by 13 digs. In fact, the 35 digs ties for the 10th best single-match mark in Sacramento State history. Libero Brigitte Murdock added 23 digs, Mikaela Nocetti tied her career high with 18 digs, and setter Kennedy Kurtz had 14 digs.
Nocetti also had a career-high 21 kills to notch her 13th double-double of the season. Boyle (13 kills, 35 digs) posted her Big Sky-leading 16th double-double and she has now recorded eight straight matches with double digits in digs. Kurtz tied her career high with seven kills to go along with 14 digs, 57 assists and a .778 hitting percentage (7-0-9).
In a game that featured the Big Sky's top two teams, it was fitting that tonight went to five sets. The back and forth fifth set featured eight ties and four lead changes. With the scored tied at 10-10, Sacramento State was able to finish on a 5-2 run. During the spurt, Kurtz, Boyle and Nocetti all had kills. Nocetti posted back-to-back kills at 13-12 and 14-12 to finally end a match that lasted two hours and 26 minutes. During that fifth set, Boyle had five kills and middle blockers Brie Gathright and Lana Brown both had a pair of blocks.
The middle blocker combination of Brown (13 kills, 6 blocks, .357 hit%) and Gathright (11 kills, 5 blocks, .345 hit%) was effective all evening. Gathright also added two aces after entering the match with one ace all season. Defensive specialist Skyler Takeda had nine digs and an ace, and she has now recorded at least one ace in six consecutive matches. Rightside hitter Sarah Davis chipped in four kills and three blocks.
Sacramento State held sizeable advantages over North Dakota in kills (69-56), hitting percentage (.174-.132), assists (66-52) and digs (108-98). The Fighting Hawks had 14.0 team blocks, led by Faith Dooley's 12 kills and 11 blocks. Also for UND, Jordan Vail had 10 kills and a .389 hitting percentage, and Ashley Brueggeman had a team-best 14 kills.
Tonight opened a season-long four match homestand that will see Sacramento State return to the Nest on Saturday for a 1 p.m. matinee against Northern Colorado. The Hornets conclude the homestand next week with matchups against Southern Utah on Thursday and Northern Arizona on Saturday.
NOTES -- Tonight was Cystinosis Awareness Night. Cystinosis is a rare metabolic disease that affects approximately 500 people in the United States (mostly children) where cystine accumulates in the cells of the body damaging numerous organs. Two children close to the program, siblings Jenna and Patrick, are battling the disease. Jenna served as an honorary captain and was introduced with the team prior to the match. Her brother, Patrick, was also in attendance. For more information or a way to help, please log onto Jenna & Patrick's Foundation of Hope website at www.jpfh.org.
April 4, 2018 SARAH CHLEBANA RETURNS AS ASSISTANT VOLLEYBALL COACH
November 28, 2017 VOLLEYBALL OPENS NIVC PLAY TODAY VS UC IRVINE AT 4:30 PM
November 26, 2017 VOLLEYBALL OPENS PLAY AT THE NIVC ON TUESDAY AGAINST UC IRVINE
November 16, 2017 KURTZ NAMED MVP, VOLTA COACH OF THE YEAR, FOUR HORNETS NAMED ALL-LEAGUE
November 15, 2017 PARKING INFORMATION FOR THE BIG SKY VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
November 13, 2017 VOLLEYBALL HOSTS EIGHT-TEAM BIG SKY TOURNAMENT THURSDAY-SATURDAY
October 16, 2017 NOCETTI NAMED THE BIG SKY OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
October 5, 2017 IN BATTLE FOR BIG SKY SUPREMACY, VOLLEYBALL BEATS NORTH DAKOTA
September 28, 2017 VOLLEYBALL REMAINS PERFECT IN THE BIG SKY, POSTS 3-0 ROAD WIN AT MONTANA
September 26, 2017 WINNERS OF 8 OF THE LAST 10, VOLLEYBALL TO PLAY TWO ROAD MATCHES THIS WEEK
September 21, 2017 HOME WINNING STREAK AT 17 AFTER VOLLEYBALL TAKES DOWN WEBER STATE
September 20, 2017 VOLLEYBALL OPENS BIG SKY PLAY THIS WEEK WITH TWO MATCHES
September 16, 2017 VOLLEYBALL CONCLUDES NEVADA TOURNAMENT WITH 3-2 NAIL BITING LOSS TO MISSOURI
September 15, 2017 VOLLEYBALL HAS WINNING STREAK SNAPPED IN LOSS TO PEPPERDINE
September 14, 2017 VOLLEYBALL TRAVELS TO RENO FOR THREE MATCHES, BEGINNING THURSDAY AT NEVADA
September 14, 2017 WINNING STREAK AT 6 STRAIGHT! VOLLEYBALL DOWNS NEVADA ON THE ROAD, 3-1
September 12, 2017 FIVE WINS IN A ROW! VOLLEYBALL DOWNS SAN FRANCISCO, 3-1
September 11, 2017 KURTZ AND MURDOCK SWEEP THE BIG SKY VOLLEYBALL WEEKLY AWARDS
September 9, 2017 VOLLEYBALL WINS 3RD STRAIGHT, BEATS NORTHERN KENTUCKY, 3-1
September 9, 2017 VOLLEYBALL BEATS SEATTLE, 3-1, COMPLETES PERFECT TOURNAMENT
September 8, 2017 ANOTHER COMEBACK WIN FOR VOLLEYBALL, THIS TIME OVER BOWLING GREEN, 3-2
September 5, 2017 VOLLEYBALL STORMS BACK, KNOCKS OFF UC DAVIS ON THE ROAD, 3-2
September 2, 2017 VOLLEYBALL FALLS TO 10TH-RANKED BYU
September 1, 2017 VOLLEYBALL OPENS BOISE TOURNAMENT WITH 3-1 LOSS TO MISSOURI
September 1, 2017 VOLLEYBALL DROPS HEARTBREAKING 3-2 ROAD DECISION AT BOISE STATE
August 31, 2017 VOLLEYBALL TRAVELS TO BOISE FOR THREE MATCHES IN TWO DAYS
August 30, 2017 VOLLEYBALL FALLS IN HOME OPENER TO PACIFIC, 3-1
August 28, 2017 LANA BROWN NAMED BIG SKY OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
August 25, 2017 VOLLEYBALL OPENS SEASON WITH 3-2 VICTORY OVER UCONN
August 7, 2017 VOLLEYBALL SEASON ON THE HORIZON; PRACTICES BEGIN AUG. 8
June 10, 2017 VOLLEYBALL’S FINAL DAY IN CHINA; TWO MORE BLOGS
May 19, 2017 VOLLEYBALL RELEASES ITS 2017 SCHEDULE