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The State Hornet

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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

‘It just felt right’: Sac State volleyball starts the Big Sky play off right

The Hornets open Big Sky conference play 2-0
Malachi Parker
The Sac State volleyball players huddled before the start of the match against Northern Arizona Thursday, Sep. 21, 2023 at The Nest. The Hornets opened their Big Sky play this weekend and are now 2-0 in conference play.

The Sacramento State volleyball team played at The Nest against Northern Arizona on Thursday night, taking a clean sweep 3-0 in the match.

The second match on the road was against Weber State on Saturday afternoon in Ogden, Utah, taking a close game win 3-2 in the matchup.

The Hornets are currently 9-7 overall and 2-0 in Big Sky conference play.

Thursday: Sac State: 3, Northern Arizona: 0

Sac State handled business at home Thursday night to open conference play with a 3-0 sweep of the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks.

Coming off back-to-back losses, the Hornets made sure not to drop a third straight and their determination showed from warmups to the last scored point.

“We were firing on all cylinders,” senior outside hitter Bridgette Smith said. “We smothered them, we smothered NAU.”

Sac State came out swinging by scoring the first point and taking control of the lead. No matter how close the Lumberjacks got, the Hornets never let up. The Hornets never let go of the lead in this set due to the team showing out on the defense.

Sac State’s front row trio senior middle blocker Kalani Hayes, senior opposite hitter Karlee Soderberg and senior middle blocker Tiyanane Kamba-Griffin lived above the net combining for six blocks in the set and never allowed the Lumberjack’s offense to get comfortable.

Northern Arizona never seemed to let up, as they cut the Sac State lead down to just two late in the set, but put themselves away with an attack error that landed out of bounds.

Filled with the momentum from the first set win, Sac State dominated to open the second set; starting with a 12-2 run that put NAU in the hole early. That run was spearheaded by Smith who had four kills during that stretch.

“We’ve been playing a little bit up and down,” Sac State head coach Ruben Volta said. “I was happy to see us play how we practiced.”

The ups and downs showed themselves in the third set as the Hornets came out flat-footed and found themselves down 1-6 early in the set. Sac State clawed its way back with a 7-2 scoring run that knotted the game at eight.

The teams would trade a few points until it was all tied again, this time at eleven.

Sac State then put a scoring run together that was the gut punch to NAU. Complete team effort on a 9-0 run that all but put the match away. NAU would make small runs of their own, but the Sac State defense was relentless all night and never let it get close. The Hornets won the set 25-18 and completed the sweep.

“Our execution tonight wasn’t perfect,” sophomore outside hitter Greta Davis said. “But we didn’t let that bother us and we got the win in the nest.”

RELATED: Sac State volleyball dominated by rival UC Davis 3-1 at home

Saturday: Sac State: 3, Weber State: 2

Sac State came out to Ogden, Utah ready to take on Weber State after winning their Big Sky opener at home Thursday.

The Wildcats started off strong as the Hornets were having a bit of a slow start in the first set. The Hornets kept committing attack and service errors which gave the Wildcats an early advantage.

At one point in the first set, Kamba-Griffin had a quick look and executed an easy kill giving Sac State the lead. The game started to get intense from there until Hayes delivered an effortless kill, giving Sac State a four point lead.

Senior outside hitter Caitlin Volkmann hit the Wildcats with a set point kill and the Hornets took a close win in the first set, 25-23.

“I just thought we played really hard, you know, played against a really good opponent in their home gym,” Volta said. “So I really liked how we responded. We worked really hard.”

The lead swapped hands between the teams all throughout this second set with a total of nine ties and two lead changes. It was full of back-to-back kills and blocks from both teams.

Weber State’s gained momentum was up as Sac State made a few errors. This gave them the lead, and they didn’t look back, taking the win in this second set 25-20.

In the third set, both teams were ready to go head-to-head for an advantage in the match. Smith had a cross-court kill giving the Hornets a one point advantage early on in the set as the score stayed close.

An attack error on Sac State gave the Wildcats the lead in the set.

Senior defensive specialist Caty Cordano was constantly digging for the ball, saving the Hornets in certain plays.

The Hornets again committed an attack error, giving Weber State the set point of the third set 25-21.

Going into the fourth set, Sac State knew they had no other choice but to respond back to any and everything Weber State was going to throw at them. This was a make- or- break set for the Hornets; if they lost this set– the match was over.

“We all knew we could play better,” Hayes said. “So it felt great to execute and play how we know we can play.”

The Hornets and Wildcats only had one tie and no lead changes this set as the Hornets took complete control of this entire set. Volkmann was on fire with kills in this set and the entire match; finishing with a total of 17 kills.

Sac State responded to attacks from Weber State and took the win 25-17.

“When we came back, it just felt right,” Kamba-Griffin said. “We knew we had to start out strong in the fourth set and fire at all cylinders, and that’s what we did. It felt really cohesive and everyone performed and did their jobs so well.”

The fifth and final set of the match came down to this, and it was first to 15.

Weber State had a small lead at first until they made an attack error which gave Sac State a chance to stay close.

From there, Sac State owned the rest of the set as Hayes and Volkmann hit the Wildcats with a block assist followed by Volkmann striking with her last kill. Smith finished with the final kill, giving Sac State the win 15-9.

“When we won it felt surreal,” Kamba-Griffin said. “We really worked hard and earned that win, and I couldn’t have asked for a better end to my last game at Weber.”

The Hornets will return home to play Portland State on Friday at 7 p.m.

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About the Contributors
Myla Booth
Myla Booth, Sports Editor
Myla Booth was born and raised in Oakland, CA. She is a senior majoring in political science & journalism. Myla joined The State Hornet in fall 2022 as a sports staffer. She is now serving as a sports editor. Myla hopes to one day pursue a career as a sports journalist and reporter for ESPN and host a sports talk show.
Malachi Parker
Malachi Parker, Visuals Staffer
(he/him) Malachi is a fourth-year student, majoring in journalism and is in his second semester at The State Hornet and will be a part of the visuals staff. He hopes to go into a job as a sports journalist or photographer.
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