Volleyball’s turnaround season ends in conference semifinal

Elliot Jones

The Sacramento State volleyball team’s season comes to an end after being swept by Northern Arizona in the semifinal match of the Big Sky Conference Tournament on Friday.

Northern Arizona will advance to face Idaho State in the title match on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Northern Arizona has won every match at home this season and Sac State was no exception. The high powered Hornets’ offense was stifled by Northern Arizona, who held the Hornets to a .089 hitting percentage. The Lumberjacks played a near perfect match with a .443 hitting percentage and only 2 errors.

“We played a really good team on their home court,” said Sac State coach Ruben Volta. “They haven’t lost here all year and they played incredible.”

The Lumberjacks were led by Big Sky Most Valuable Player Janae Vander Ploe, who tallied 15 kills, a hitting percentage of .517 and did not record a single error in 29 total attacks.

Sac State was unable to get its offense going in any of the three sets. Sac State did not score over 20 points in any of the three sets. Sac State lost the first set 25-17 with a hitting percentage of .167 and six errors. The Lumberjacks had a great start to the match with a hitting percentage of .472 and only one error.

As the match went on, the Hornets continued to struggle as Northern Arizona gained momentum. The Lumberjacks won the second set 25-14 with a hitting percentage of .375.

Northern Arizona was firing on all cylinders coming into the third set and did not commit a single error as they beat the Hornets 25-15 to complete the sweep.

The Hornets’ middle blocker Madeline Cannon had the best night offensively for the team with a hitting percentage of .417 and six kills.

“She played really hard,” Volta said. “Unfortunately we didn’t pass or play defense well enough to get the ball to her more.”

Outside hitter Sloan Lovett led the team in kills with 11 in her last match as a Hornet. Lovett was a force at the corner for the Hornets this season and was named Big Sky all-conference second team this week.

Lauren Kissell also played her last match as a Hornet and finished the night with nine kills. She was the only Sac State player to be named on the Big Sky all-conference first team this year.

Kissell and Lovett are the only two starters not returning next year for the Hornets as the majority of the team remains in tact.

The Hornets end their season at 26-6 overall, which is the most wins the volleyball team has had since 2007. Volta has been to the Big Sky Tournament before in 2008 and in 2011, but neither of those teams advanced to the semifinal match.

“We had such a great season,” Volta said. “I’m really proud of my team, we played hard and we won a lot of matches this season.”