VOLLEYBALL OPENS SEASON WITH 3-1 VICTORY OVER UTAH STATE

VOLLEYBALL OPENS SEASON WITH 3-1 VICTORY OVER UTAH STATE

Hornet Invitational Home Page

SACRAMENTO -- Three Hornets posted double figures in kills, and libero Paige Swinney added a career-high 27 digs to help Sacramento State to a season-opening 3-1 victory (25-27, 25-17, 25-17, 25-15) over Utah State in the first round of the Hornet Volleyball Invitational Friday afternoon at Colberg Court.

The Hornet Invitational is a two-day, four-team tournament that also consists of Arizona and CSUN. Sacramento State will play twice more at the event, including tonight vs. CSUN at 7:30 p.m. and tomorrow vs. Arizona at 1:30 p.m. In the tournament's other morning session match, Arizona swept CSUN.

Sacramento State, the defending Big Sky Conference regular season champions, won its season opener for the fourth straight year, and fifth time in the last six years. In today's match, the Hornets served tough (10 aces), and played sound defense (79 digs, 13 blocks) while limiting Utah State to a .060 hitting percentage. In fact, the Aggies hit below .150 in all four sets, including .143 in the first, .097 in the second, -.029 in the third, and .000 in the fourth.

The Hornets' 10 aces came from three players, including a career-best five from Skyler Takeda. Sarah Davis also had a career high in aces (3) and setter Ashtin Olin added two aces. Three of those aces from Takeda came on three consecutive points early in the third set. In her first career collegiate match, Olin, a redshirt freshman, had five kills, a .444 hitting percentage, 45 assists, two aces, seven digs and three blocks.

Three Hornets had at least six blocks individually, including middle blocker Lana Brown who had seven stuffs to go along with 10 kills and a .346 hitting percentage. In her first career start, sophomore rightside hitter Cianna Andrews had a career-best six blocks, and middle blocker Brie Gathright added six blocks, five kills and a .556 hitting percentage.

"We missed a lot of serves (15 errors), but we were still able to serve tough and get them out of system which helped our blocking and defense," Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. "I was very pleased with our blocking, which I felt got better as the match progressed. Today was a good start to the season, but there are a lot of areas we need to improve upon."

The Hornets' outside hitter tandem of team co-captains Mikaela Nocetti (20 kills, 18 digs) and Davis (12 kills, 13 digs) combined for 32 of the team's 55 kills. For Nocetti, it marked the sixth match in her three-year career with the Hornets she has accumulated at least 20 kills.

Swinney, a sophomore, has been inserted into the libero role this season and responded nicely with 27 digs, which were 15 more than her previous high. Ten of those digs came in the fourth set. She was one of three Hornets with doubles figures in digs. The quartet of Swinney (27), Nocetti (18), Davis (13) and Takeda (9) combined for 67 of the team's 79 digs.

Sacramento State bounced back nicely from a first set that saw the team squander a 24-21 lead and eventually drop the frame, 27-25. From that point on, it was all Hornets who won each of the final three sets with relative ease.