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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

A group of stars fall in the Big Sky tournament

The Hornets received awards, but fell short against Wildcats
Senior+middleblocker+Kalani+Hayes+and+junior+outside+hitter+Ellie+Tisko+going+up+for+a+block+against+Weber+State+Saturday%2C+Oct.+12%2C+2023.+The+Hornets+played+Weber+State+for+the+third+time+this+season+in+the+semifinals+of+the+Big+Sky+Tournament+and+lost+3-2.
Brionna Woody
Senior middleblocker Kalani Hayes and junior outside hitter Ellie Tisko going up for a block against Weber State Saturday, Oct. 12, 2023. The Hornets played Weber State for the third time this season in the semifinals of the Big Sky Tournament and lost 3-2.

Sacramento State’s volleyball teams’ chance at winning the Big Sky Tournament ended on Thanksgiving, but their star-studded cast was awarded another opportunity to make history in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship.

Five players were appointed as members of the All-Big Sky team among other honors, heading into the Big Sky Tournament. The Hornets started the tournament off hot with the stars on full display, but their Big Sky season ended in disappointing fashion.

Meet the Stars

Sac State head coach Ruben Volta was announced as the Big Sky Coach of the Year. This is Volta’s third Big Sky Coach of the Year with previous wins in 2015 and 2017.

“Coaches get the awards if the players played really well and they did, so it’s kind of a credit to them really,” Volta said.

Senior outside hitter Bridgette Smith was voted Big Sky Most Valuable Player of the Year and was also named to the first- team All-Big Sky alongside senior middleblockers Tiyanane Kamba-Griffin and Kalani Hayes.

“I was surprised honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t feel like it would be me, but it was exciting,” Smith said in response to being named Big Sky MVP. “I obviously couldn’t do it without my team.”

Junior outside hitter Ellie Tisko and senior libero Caty Cordano were named to the second-team All-Big Sky as well.

“I was super honored, really happy, but I couldn’t do that without my teammates, especially as a middle if they don’t pass well, set well,” Hayes said. “I’m happy for me and my team.”

RELATED: Hornet volleyball leaves Montana with a Big Sky trophy

The Big Sky Tournament

In Greeley, Colorado, the Hornets faced Idaho State in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Tournament.

The game was a perfect demonstration of how Sac State dominated the Big Sky Conference during the regular season. When the dust had settled, the Hornets had a clean sweep with 15 team blocks and they were moving on to the semifinals.

Kamba-Griffin had led the team with 10 blocks and four solo blocks.

“I felt like we’re going to win every game,” Kamba-Griffin said. “We’re a strong team and I think we are all super motivated. We had such good energy on and off the court.”

The Hornets faced Weber State in the semifinals on Thanksgiving. A team that the Hornets had split with during the regular season, the winner would now move on to the finals.

The first three sets were all close with Weber State winning by four points or less, but Sac State led 2-1 and were on their way to winning the fourth set of the match.

“We got to the fourth set and we got a pretty good lead and I think we kind of started thinking we’ve won this game and kind of letting off the gas a bit,” Hayes said. “A team like that is going to take advantage of that.”

With the Hornets’ eyes set on their next matchup, Weber State went on a run and snatched the set from them, taking the match to a fifth set.

With momentum no longer on their side, the Hornets fell to the eventual Big Sky champions and their Big Sky run was over.

Even with the loss, the Hornets racked up another award. Kamba-Griffin was named Big Sky All-tournament.

Onto the Next

Sac State’s postseason run isn’t over after their loss as they are invited to participate in the Women’s NIVC.

The first two rounds will be hosted at Sac State in the Nest on Thursday and Friday.

The Hornets will go against University of Nevada, Las Vegas at 7 p.m. on Thursday where they will have another chance to bring some hardware home to the Nest.

“We should be angry and take that anger and use it as motivation and fuel to win some games and finish games and kill them at the end and don’t let up,” Hayes said.

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About the Contributor
Ryan Lorenz, Sports Staffer
(he/him) Ryan Lorenz is in his second semester at The State Hornet. He is a former Sports Editor for Cosumnes River College's publication, The Connection. He has a strong passion for sports and plans on having a career in sports media.
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