Big Sky Tournament Bracket
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Big Sky standings
OGDEN, Utah — Sacramento State's incredible regular season came to a close with yet another victory, this time on the road at Weber State, 3-1 (15-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-22) on Saturday evening inside Swenson Gym.
The victory allowed the Hornets (24-8 overall) to tie the program record for best finish to a Big Sky Conference regular season at 15-1. Only the 1998 and 2006 Hornet squads were also able to accomplish the feat. Sacramento State was essentially two points away from a perfect 16-0 conference record as the team's only blemish was a 16-14 loss in the fifth set on the road at Northern Arizona.
The Hornets, who will be the No. 1 seed and host next week's Big Sky Tournament, will take a five-game winning streak into the postseason event. There will be four quarterfinal matches on Thursday inside the Nest: No. 2 seed North Dakota vs. No. 7 Weber State at 11 a.m.; No. 3 Idaho vs. No. 6 Idaho State at 1:30 p.m.; No. 4 Portland State vs. No. 5 Northern Arizona at 4:30 p.m.; No. 1 Sacramento State vs. No. 8 Northern Colorado at 7 p.m. The semis will take place on Friday at 4:30 and 7:00 p.m., and the championship match will be Saturday at 8 p.m. For tournament brackets, please click here. In addition, ticket prices for the tournament can be found by clicking here.
Sacramento State has now won five straight, 15 of the last 16, and 21 of the last 24 matches. The Hornets, who clinched the regular season title a week ago, won their first regular season crown since the 2007 season. In addition, the Hornets will host the Big Sky's postseason event for the first time since 2007. The winner of the Big Sky Tournament receives an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, a place the Hornets haven't been since that same 2007 team advanced to the second round of the Big Dance.
Not only did the Hornets complete the regular season with a 24-8 overall record, the team was also a very impressive 10-3 when playing on an opponent's home floor. The road record could just have easily been 12-1 if not for an 18-16 loss in the fifth set at Boise State, and the 16-14 loss in the fifth at Northern Arizona.
With the loss, Weber State dropped to 9-19 overall and 7-9 in the Big Sky. The Hornets swept the season series over the Wildcats, which included a pair of 3-1 victories. The Hornets opened the conference season with a win over Weber State, and now own a 37-10 all-time record against the Wildcats. That includes a 16-5 mark when the two teams play in Ogden.
As was the case when the two teams met on Sept. 21, the Hornets won three tightly contested sets. After losing bad in the first set, 25-15, Sacramento State was able to come up with big plays late in the second, third and fourth sets to pull out the win. In the second, Sacramento State held a 22-21 lead before closing on a 3-1 run, which included a combo block from Kennedy Kurtz and Brie Gathright at 23-21. In the third, the Hornets trailed, 20-15, before closing on a 10-1 run to win, 25-21. Three of the last four Hornet points were scored via blocks, as Lana Brown had a part in all three of those stuffs. In the fourth, Sacramento State went on a set-sealing 4-1 run to break open a 21-21 tie. Once again, Brown factored in on a huge combo block with Sarah Davis to give the Hornets slight breathing room and make the score 23-21.
Sacramento State blocked well all evening, combining for 15.0 team blocks. That included eight kills and 10 blocks from Brown, as the middle hitter accounted for double figures in stuffs for the second time in the last three matches. Five different Hornets had at least three blocks, including Davis who had nine kills, five blocks and a .273 hitting percentage. Kurtz posted five blocks to go with five kills, 43 assists and .364 hitting percentage. Gathright added four blocks to go along with nine kills and a .348 hitting percentage, and outside hitter Shannon Boyle had three blocks, eight kills and 16 digs. Outside hitter Mikaela Nocetti posted a team-high 12 kills, libero Brigitte Murdock had 15 digs, and Julia Wright had two of the Hornets' five aces
Sacramento State needed to block well in a match that saw Weber State post more kills (58-51) and digs (61-50) than the Hornets. Sacramento State hit .224 while Weber Stat was held to a .205 hitting percentage.
For the Wildcats, Andrea Hale (15), Megan Gneiting (14) and Amanda Valley (13) combined for 42 of the team's 58 kills.
Sacramento State will now turn its attention to hosting the Big Sky Tournament inside the Nest, a place that has seen the Hornets win 24 straight against conference competition over the last three years.
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