Hornets stung in cup battle

Causeway Cup: The Aggies claimed this year?s Causeway Cup with a55.84-44.16 victory over the Hornets. :Megan Harris State Hornet

Causeway Cup: The Aggies claimed this year?s Causeway Cup with a55.84-44.16 victory over the Hornets. :Megan Harris State Hornet

Marshall Hampson

Sacramento State athletics lost the sixth-annual Causeway Cup to rival UC Davis. The Aggies clinched the cup with a 7-5 victory in softball on March 26. The cup series concluded Saturday with Davis’ victory in rowing.

The all-time cup series is now tied 3-3, after the Aggies’ 55.84-44.16 win this year. UC Davis won 15.5 out of the 22 matches the two teams played this season.

The Causeway Cup was introduced to the two schools in the 2004-05 athletic season to declare a winner based on total points.

UC Davis Assistant Athletic Director Mike Robles said he’s glad that UC Davis gained back control of the cup.

“Any time that UC Davis can win, it feels great,” Robles said. “It’s a sense a pride for all the coaches. I think now that we have something on the line in the rivalry, makes the rivalry go on for many more years. It’s 3-3 now and this makes the rivalry that much better.”

Sac State last won the Causeway Cup in the 2008-09 season with a score of 66.67-43.33. The 2008-09 victory was the Hornets’ third win overall of the cup.

Throughout the season, Sac State and UC Davis compete in 18 sports to earn points based on a win.

This year, however, was decided by 16 sports because outdoor track and field chose not to participate in the Causeway Cup for the 2009-10 season.

Sac State Athletic Director Terry Wanless shared his appeal of having the cup introduced to the schools.

“We just thought that it would be a fun thing to do to set up a system which other schools have done previously for athletic competition,” Wanless said. “Our student-athletes know that when we’re playing Davis, that it’s a special rivalry game and we need to go out and give a maximum effort.”

The Causeway Classic football game is the biggest match between the two schools in terms of attendance.

Wanless said Sac State and UC Davis should keep making the Causeway Cup and Classic a healthy rivalry for years to come.

After the death of former football head coach Bob Mattos, head coach Marshall Sperbeck looked back on the victory and found it to be more rewarding than just a win at the Causeway Classic.

“We felt very honored to win the game for Coach Mattos and his family,” Sperbeck said. “(It was) a very exciting game and a great way to end our season.”

Mattos is Sac State’s leader for most wins all-time at the university. The Hornets had a comeback victory in their game and scored a touchdown with 20 seconds to give a 31-28 victory over UC Davis in the Causeway Classic.

Gymnastics head coach Kim Hughes said he wants his athletes to take note of the Causeway rivalry.

“My staff and I make sure that every incoming freshman class understands the importance of the rivalry with Davis,” Hughes said. “We will need to step up next year and get back in the game.”

Hughes and the gymnastics team went seven straight years with 22 wins before losing to UC Davis this year.

Like the gymnastics team, multiple sports including baseball and softball play the Aggies several times during the year. The point value for the games then gets divided in half or thirds depending on how many times the two schools meet.

The softball team faced UC Davis three times this year and lost all three games by three runs or less. Head coach Kathy Strahan said this year did not go the team’s way due to injuries, youth and a strong group of Aggies.

“The series with UC Davis in softball is very competitive,” Strahan said. “We have been a stronger team in years past and have beaten the Aggies. This year, we are very young and have lost several top players to season-ending injuries. We weren’t as successful against them this year.”

Sac State won the series 2-1 last year but failed to hold off the Aggies this series.

The overall standings were close this year and multiple games throughout the season also ended in nail-biting fashion, including a last-second 59-57 win for the men’s basketball team at the Pavilion in Davis.

Another sport in which the Hornets performed well was volleyball.

Sac State volleyball head coach Ruben Volta, who has coached the Hornets for two years, led the team to a 3-2 win over UC Davis in the last set of the game.

“It was a back and forth match and we were able to pull of the win in the fifth and deciding set,” Volta said. “I think there is always a special energy when playing Davis and the match didn’t disappoint.”

With the win, the women’s volleyball team earned 10 points. Even though the players won the match for the team, Volta said the fans helped create a rivalry atmosphere.

“The crowd always seems to be a little more intense when we are playing Davis,” Volta said. “Being home this year was a big help as the crowd was really into the match.”

With so many thrilling games this season, Wanless said every season should bememorable games between the two schools.

“The matches have been close and that’s what makes it exciting,” Wanless said. “That’s what you would like to see happen. If one school simply dominates all the time, pretty soon it loses interest.”

Wanless said the cup is a good way to give the games between the two local rivals more meaning for the fans and players.

“It is about sportsmanship. It is about competitiveness,” Wanless said. “But at the end of the day, we don’t hate each other. We just like beating each other.”

Marshall Hampson can be reached at mhampson@statehornet.com