SACRAMENTO -- Sacramento State closed the fifth and final set on a 6-0 run, and finished off a 3-2 victory (18-25, 25-16, 25-18, 18-25, 15-8) over Northern Arizona in a Big Sky Conference volleyball matchup Saturday evening inside the Nest.
Leading, 9-8, in the fifth set, Sacramento State would score the final six points of the frame to improve to 8-10 overall and 3-1 in the conference. During the 6-0 run, which saw Sarah Davis serve five consecutive points, Ashtin Olin and Brie Gathright both had a pair of kills. That included the match winner from Gathright which electrified the crowd.
During that fifth frame, Olin, a freshman setter, was incredible, finishing with three kills in three swings to go along with six assists, two digs and a pair of blocks. Gathright was equally impressive, tallying three kills, two blocks and a .500 hitting percentage in the frame. The win marked the first time the Hornets had been victorious in a fifth set this season (1-4).
Sacramento State finished the fifth with 10 kills and a .320 hitting percentage while NAU had five kills and a .000 hitting percentage.
The win was the third straight for Sacramento State, and second of the homestand after Thursday night's 3-1 victory over Southern Utah. Not only did the Hornets improve to 3-1 in league, the team is also 4-1 over its last five home games.
Northern Arizona, which boasts a home win over eighth-ranked Florida earlier this month, dropped to 10-7 overall and 2-2 in conference play. The Lumberjacks had won their previous two matches, including Thursday's three-set road sweep of Portland State.
Sacramento State continued its dominance of NAU at home. Amazingly, the Hornets are now 24-1 at home against the Lumberjacks, which includes seven straight wins. Dating back to 1996, NAU's only win in Sacramento came in five sets on Sept. 22, 2011.
The Hornets, who won their 1,000th match in program history on Thursday, are in the midst of a stretch that will see the team play four times at home over a six-match stretch. The Hornets have now won 26 straight regular season home matches against Big Sky opposition.
Sacramento State finished with 62 kills, a .243 hitting percentage, seven aces, 85 digs and 12.0 team blocks. The Hornets limited a potent NAU offensive attack to a .207 hitting percentage. In the sets the Lumberjacks lost, they were held to hitting percentages of .154, .051, and .000, respectively.
"I was very proud of our effort," Sacramento State head coach Ruben Volta said. "Northern Arizona doesn't make a lot of mistakes and they keep balls in play, so you have to play defense, transition and attack, and we did a good job of that tonight.
"Obviously, we love playing in front of our fans. We play with a lot of confidence at home, and that was evident again, especially in that fifth set. NAU had closed to within one point of our lead (9-8) and we were able to feed off the crowd's energy which helped fuel our match-clinching run."
Numerous Hornets played well tonight, including both outside hitters who notched double-doubles. Davis finished with 16 kills and 18 digs, and Mikaela Nocetti had 15 kills, three aces and 11 digs. Olin, once again, provided a stat sheet stuffing line of six kills, a .500 hitting percentage, 45 assists, one ace, 11 digs and six blocks. She had just one error in 10 attacks.
Middle blockers Gathright (10 kills, six blocks, .364 hitting percentage) and Lana Brown (seven kills, six blocks, .500 hitting percentage) were very impressive, and rightside hitter Cianna Andrews added six kills.
Defensively, libero Paige Swinney had 18 digs, and Skyler Takeda posted 15 digs to go along with two aces. Takeda served out the final six points of the third set to help the Hornets close on a 7-0 run after things had been tied at 18-18.
For NAU, Abby Akin had 14 kills, a .414 hitting percentage and five aces while Jordan Anderson had a match-best 27 digs, and Kaylie Jorgenson posted 14 kills.
Sacramento State will play on the road next week at Idaho on Thursday, and Eastern Washington on Saturday. Idaho was selected to finish first in the Big Sky standings in the preseason coaches poll, followed by Northern Arizona and Sacramento State to round out the top three.
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