Hornets defeat Montana Grizzlies 3-1 in playoff quarterfinals

Sac State volleyball moves up in Big Sky tournament


Adoreil Ayoubgoulan

(FILE) The Sac State women’s volleyball team gathers for a quick huddle during their game against the Montana Grizzlies on Thursday Oct. 6, 2022, at The Nest. The Hornets continue in the Big Sky tournament on Friday against University of Northern Colorado.

Myla Booth

The Sacramento State volleyball team dominated the University of Montana 3-1 in Ogden, Utah in the first round of the Big Sky tournament and avoided single-loss elimination. 

Sac State continues to turn things around and thrive after their loss in the regular season finale at home against Portland State

“I feel great. It was a really good match,” Sac State head coach Ruben Volta said. “Montana played really well, obviously forcing us to really fight hard. You have to expect that in a conference tournament so I’m really happy that we hung in there and played well till the end.” 

First Set: 19-25 Grizzlies

Sac State and Montana both started off strong as they went back and forth early in the game. 

Montana started taking the lead after Sac State made service, reception and attack errors. 

The Grizzlies took the set 25-19 and had one more kill than the Hornets. 

Second Set: 25-17 Hornets

The Grizzlies took their momentum from the first set into the second as they took a four-point lead, until the Hornets called a timeout. 

After the Sac State timeout, sophomore outside hitter Ellie Tisko came through with a kill and the Hornets started building back their momentum. 

The Hornets tied the game with an ace, followed by senior middle blocker Tiyanane Kamba-Griffin swinging a powerful kill, breaking the tie. 

“I think there was a play that I actually ended up challenging a line call because all of our players thought it was in, so we challenged and we got that call right,” Volta said. “Then, Bridgette went back to serving and served really tough and it got us on a really good roll. I think we got our confidence from that and it set us up for the rest of the match.” 

Sac State was on a 9-0 scoring run and continued to take control till the end with the 25-17 win  in the second set. 

Third Set: 25-21 Hornets 

Going into the third set, Sac State and Montana were tied 1-1 in set scores. Montana started off with a ball handling error, automatically giving a point to Sac State. 

The Hornets came into the third set knowing they had to carry their energy from the second to be closer to winning this match. There were no ties and no lead changes.

Sac State was in the groove and was even leading in blocks at that point, where in the first half, they were far behind in blocks compared to Montana. 

After a timeout was called by Montana, senior setter Ashtin Olin blocked an attack from the Grizzlies, giving the Hornets the set point win of 25-21. 

“Bridgette’s service run brought a lot of confidence to the team,” Olin said. “I believe in all my teammates and I know we are all capable of doing amazing things, so it doesn’t surprise me.” 

Fourth Set: 25-23 Hornets

The final set saw the Hornets leading 2-1 in set scores. 

Sac State knew they would have to give it their all as Montana was ready to do the same, trying to stop the Hornets from ending their season. 

There were 14 ties and 10 lead changes in this competitive last set. 

The Hornets and Grizzlies were showing strong defense and offense, as they both made small errors, giving away easy advantages to each other.  

Sac State pushed through the set as Kamba-Griffin ended it with a block, giving the Hornets a 25-23 victory.. 

“I feel really great and thankful since the last couple of years losing out of the first round,” Olin said. “It feels just really good to win the first game of the conference tournament and [break] that curse. We are so capable and really excited to go against UNC on Friday.” 

Player Stats

The Hornets will be playing against Northern Colorado in the second round of the Big Sky tournament Friday afternoon.