Volleyball takes third at invitational


Senior Kelsey Elston slams the ball past the Bulldog block during Friday night’s game. Despite winning the first set the Hornets lost the match 3-1 against Fresno State. The Hornets are now 3-3 on the season.

AJ Taylor

The Sacramento State volleyball team finished in third place as it hosted the Sacramento State Invitational on Sept. 2 and 3.  

The team went 1-2 ahead of Marist (0-3), and behind Fresno State (2-1) and champions CSU Northridge (3-0).

Hornets Breanne Menees and Jessie Genger were named to the all-tournament team. Menees led the tournament in digs with 59. The newest Hornet, Genger, finished the tournament with a .361 hitting percentage, 16 kills and 18.5 points.

The first round opened on Friday with the Northridge Matadors winning in straight sets against the Marist Red Foxes. Tournament Most Valuable Player Mahina Haina led the Matadors in points (14.5) and kills (12) finishing with a .556 hitting percentage. The Red Foxes were limited to a .116 hitting percentage in their first three sets of the Invitational.

Late Friday, the Hornets lost in four sets to the Fresno State Bulldogs (25-14, 21-25, 13-25, 23-25) after winning the first set. In the loss, senior Kelsey Elston notched a .267 hitting percentage, her best percentage of the tournament. Janelle Currey posted a .318 hitting percentage against the Bulldogs, putting down 18 kills and 19.5 points. Currey led the game in kills and was matched in points by Marissa Brand of Fresno State. The match left both teams with a 2-2 overall record and dropped the Hornets to 0-1 in the tournament.

The second round of the invitational was kicked off with the Cal State Northridge defeating Fresno State in straight sets (25-15, 25-20, 25-18). Haina led the team through the three sets with 12 kills and a .375 hitting percentage.

The Hornets and the Red Foxes faced an elimination match in the second round of the tournament. It was senior Eryn Kirby who took her tournament performance to an unmatched level. Kirby powered the Hornets past the Marist Red Foxes in three sets (25-15, 25-12, 25-15) with a match high 17 kills and .438 hitting percentage. Kirby alone notched 20 points versus Marist’s team total of 28 and Kirby’s 17 kills was only six less than the Red Fox’s team total.

The match put the Hornets at 1-1 for the tournament, 3-2 overall, and dropped the Red Foxes to 0-2 in the tournament. By the closing of the second round Marist fell from tournament champion contention with one game left to play. 

The third and final round of the weekend invitational began later that Saturday afternoon with the Bulldogs facing off against the Red Foxes. Unlike Marist, Fresno State (1-1), still had championship hopes alive.

The Bulldogs kept a championship within their reach as they limited the Red Foxes to a .145 hitting percentage; the Bulldogs racked up a .360 hitting percentage. Fresno State defeated Marist in three sets. Marist left the tournament without winning a single set.

Northridge had control of its own destiny. Only the Hornets stood between the Matadors and the trophy. And with that in mind they dominated the final match. The Matadors led the Hornets in kills (55-39), hitting percentage (.252-.100), assists (51-37), digs (84-64) and team blocks (11.0-8.0). Northridge took the trophy home after a four-set contest.

“We weren’t scoring what we needed to score to be considered in that tournament,” said Northridge head coach Jeff Stork. “The girls did an outstanding job of producing points. We were getting upwards of 19 to 21 points per set in the first two matches minimizing our errors. It hadn’t always been like that in our preseason so far. The biggest thing was just producing kills.”

The Hornets’ consistent defense has carried over from last season. Team digs remain consistently high, allowing for the Hornets to stay alive in long rallies.

Hornets’ head coach Ruben Volta said the team still has room to grow – especially in the passing and setting game.

“I think the attacking will come with that because I think if you pass well, you’ll be able to run your offense better,” Volta said. “If we can serve a little tougher (and be) little more consistent, I think that we can get teams out of their offense.”

This tournament proved to be a positive step for Genger in becoming more comfortable with her new team. To open the tournament, Genger, a junior transfer from Gonzaga, had three games as a Hornet under her belt. None of those games was at home, where they held a 10-1 record dating back to last season.

Genger stepped up in the first two games, posting a hitting percentage over .400.

Volta said she got strong performance out of Genger.

“I think (Genger) had a really good weekend. She attacked really well, she blocked really well. She played really well in the front row for us,” Volta said.

Volta said about Genger’s versatility, it was only a matter of bringing her talent onto the court.

“I felt that in this match she really proved herself that she could play on this team,” Menees said. “She held her ground this match.”

Up next for the Hornets is the University of Nevada, Reno, Georgetown University and Cal this weekend in the Cal Tournament in Berkeley.

AJ Taylor can be reached at [email protected].