Sac State volleyball unable to secure Big Sky Conference win at home

Hornets fall to Northern Arizona in a three set sweep


Tony Rodriguez

Sac State volleyball lines up in its first set against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks on Oct. 7, 2021. The Hornets lost in three sets in their first home game after a two-game victory streak on the road.

Tony Rodriguez

Sac State women’s volleyball lost at home against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks in a three set sweep Thursday night.

The Hornets came into their home game after a two-game win streak on the road, but they were unable to secure their first home conference win of the season. 

This is the second time ever the Hornets have been swept by a Big Sky opponent at home in seven years. The Hornets now are 25-2 in their all-time record against Northern Arizona at home. Northern Arizona improved their Big Sky record to 5-1, and Sac State fell to 2-3.

The Hornets began the first set relying on passing and defense while Northern Arizona’s front line made them work for their points. The set was back and forth, but attack errors troubled the Hornets on some crucial points which ultimately gave Northern Arizona the first set 25-20.

Outside hitter Taylor Jacobsen had a strong performance in the first set for Northern Arizona,  giving the Lumberjacks five kills. Hornet sophomore outside hitter Bridgette Smith put up four kills in the first. Kalani Hayes maintained a .333 hit percentage and put up four kills.

Northern Arizona had two service aces both from Jacobsen. Sophomore defensive specialist Millie O’Ketter  and redshirt junior outside hitter Morgan Gappmayer combined for 10 digs in the first set to help Northern Arizona’s defense.

“NAU picked out our weaknesses,” Smith said. “We had it and were bringing momentum in, but we took our foot off the gas.”

In the second set, Northern Arizona came out strong, but the Hornet defense continued to make it difficult. The Hornets took their first lead of the set on a four-point run to make it 5-4 but eventually gave up that lead in another back and forth set. There were five lead changes in the second set. 

Northern Arizona’s outside hitters gave the Hornets front line trouble and they were unable to maintain any sort of advantage. The Hornets’ defense could not handle Northern Arizona and they lost in the second set 26-24. The Hornets were able to consistently set up hitters through the set but fell short. Sophomore middle blocker Kalani Hayes put up four more kills and Smith had three kills by the set’s end. 

In the third set, the Hornets  needed a win to stay in the game while Northern Arizona looked for a set sweep. Northern Arizona started with nine straight points as the Hornets struggled to deal with Northern Arizona’s outside hitters and their own attack errors. The Hornets were able to rally back into competition making it 9-16, but it was not enough. Sac State fell in a Northern Arizona controlled third set 25-15.

“We have one rotation that we are struggling with,”  Smith said. “A lot of it has to do with confidence. It’s nice being back home at the nest but we just need to finish.”

Gappmayer and Jacobsen dominated the front line, combining in the game for 17 kills. O’Ketter helped Northern Arizona’s defense with 18 digs in the match. 

Hayes finished the game with 10 kills, two blocks and a .500 hit percentage. Hornets lead libero Caty Cordano was out with an injury. Senior defensive specialist Michelle Taynton stepped up and recorded 17 digs in the match, along with Smith who had eight kills, 10 digs and three aces.

“We can improve a lot on individual confidence,” said sophomore outside hitter Caitlin Volkmann. “We’re going to come to practice ready to work and stick together”

The Hornets will play their next game at home against Southern Utah on Saturday at 1 p.m.