Big Sky Conference standings
SACRAMENTO -- On Senior Day, with a chance to clinch the program's first Big Sky Conference regular season title since 2007, Sacramento State did exactly that, putting together a 3-2 come from behind victory in front of a jubilant Colberg Court crowd. The Hornets, who lost the first two sets, defeated Portland State, 3-2 (26-28, 18-25, 25-16, 25-21, 15-7).
Playing their final home match of the regular season, the Hornets (22-8, 13-1) secured a Big Sky regular season title despite the fact they have two more matches to play next week on the road. With the regular season title in hand, Sacramento State will host the eight-team Big Sky Tournament on Nov. 16-18. The Hornets will host the event for the first time since 2007, and the winner of the postseason event receives an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
The regular season title is the ninth for Sacramento State since the program joined the league in 1996 (1997-01, 2005-07, 2017). The Hornets also posted a perfect 8-0 record at home against Big Sky teams for the third straight year, and have won 24 consecutive home matches against conference foes inside the Nest. In fact, Sacramento State has not lost to a Big Sky team at home since the 2014 season.
The tournament format will be as follows: The quarterfinals will take place on Thursday, Nov. 16 when the No. 2 seed faces the No. 7 seed at 11 a.m., No. 3 vs. No. 6 at 1:30 p.m., No. 4 vs. No. 5 at 4:30 p.m., and Sacramento State (the No. 1 seed) will take on the No. 8 seed at 7 p.m. The semifinals will take place on Friday, Nov. 17, at 4:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., and the championship match will be on Saturday, Nov. 18, at 8:00 p.m.
Tickets are now on sale by clicking here with all-tournament passes for adults priced at $25 and youth/student/faculty will be $20. Single-day tickets for Thursday and Friday are $15 adult/$8 youth/$5 student and faculty. There will also be discounted tickets if fans wish to see only the Sacramento State matches. The championship game ticket prices are $15 adult, $8 for youth and $5 for students/faculty. Since this is a conference championship event, Sacramento State students are not admitted free.
The Hornets' 13-1 conference record ties for the team's best mark after 14 games since the 1998, 2005 and 2006 squads also accomplished the feat. Overall, dating back to last season (home or away), Sacramento State has won 21 of its last 22 regular season matches against conference competition. The Hornets, who also won their second straight Big Sky South Division championship today, are a combined 38-8 against conference competition over the last three years.
The Hornets were able to sweep the season series against a Portland State team that is now 19-7 overall and 10-4 in the Big Sky. Sacramento State swept the Vikings earlier this season in Portland, and has won six straight meetings in the series. Overall, the Hornets are 44-22 all-time against the Vikings, including a 21-4 mark at home.
Prior to today's match, Sacramento State honored six fourth-year seniors for their contributions to the program. Fitting for the day of a conference title, as each of the six seniors have helped the Hornets improve their conference record every season of their careers from 3-13 in 2014, to 12-4 in 2015, 13-3 in 2016 and 13-1 this season. The seniors honored were Shannon Boyle, Erin Cochran, Kennedy Kurtz, Hannah Meadows, Brigitte Murdock and Julia Wright.
In the fifth set, Sacramento State used a 5-0 run early in the frame to take a 6-2 lead. From there, the Hornets led by at least three points the rest of the way. The Hornets hit .350 in the set and had 4.0 team blocks. That included four blocks from Lana Brown. Sacramento State is now 6-3 in five-set matches this season, but today was the first time they came back from a 2-0 sets deficit to win in five.
"Today's victory was a team effort. Everybody out there had to contribute at critical times during big points and big rallies for us to come back from a two-set deficit," Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. "I glanced at the players after we clinched and was thrilled to see their happiness. They are the ones that put all the hard work into this, and to see them smiling and jumping around was as good as it gets. It was also great to clinch on our home floor because our crowd really brought the enthusiasm today."
Sacramento State got huge production from its middle blockers today as Brown had 13 kills, a career-high 11 blocks and a .500 hitting percentage. Fellow middle Brie Gathright had 10 kills, five blocks and a .556 hitting percentage. Joining in on the block party was rightside hitter Sarah Davis who had seven blocks. In all, Sacramento State finished with a season-high 19.0 team blocks as four different players had five stuffs. That included Kurtz who had 52 assists, four aces, 14 digs and six blocks.
Four Hornets had double figures in kills, including Boyle (17 kills, 10 digs) and Mikaela Nocetti (15 kills, 16 digs). Murdock had a team-high 19 digs and Skyler Takeda added seven digs and an ace. Meadows finished with four digs.
Sacramento State's final two regular season matches will come next week on the road at Idaho State on Thursday, and Weber State on Saturday. Both games will begin at 6 p.m. PST. The Hornets defeated both the Bengals and Wildcats earlier this season at home. If the season ended today, the Hornets would face Weber State in the first round of the conference tournament. However, there are still two matches to play for every team in the Big Sky, and a lot of things could change in the standings next week.
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