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SACRAMENTO -- Sacramento State played the final two sets tough against the sixth ranked team in the nation, but ultimately fell at home to Florida, 3-0 (25-14, 25-17, 25-20), on Saturday evening at the Nest.
Sacramento State found itself trailing just 16-14 in the second set, and had the match tied at 19-19 in the third frame before ultimately falling. Florida had only two aces during the entire match and Sacramento State finished with just eight less kills (43-35) and two less digs (43-41) than the Gators.
Tonight's match was the finale of the two-day, four-team Hornet Invitational. Sacramento State concluded the season-opening tourney with a 2-1 record, while Florida was 3-0, and both UC Davis and San Francisco went 0-2. The Hornets beat San Francisco in five sets earlier today after knocking off UC Davis last night by a 3-1 score.
Florida, currently ranked sixth in the AVCA preseason poll, has a roster that boasts four All-Americans. Amazingly, the Gators have been ranked in the preseason top 15 for 30 consecutive seasons. Florida swept all three of its opponents during the tournament, including a win over USF yesterday, and victory against UC Davis this morning.
The Hornets were seeking their first 3-0 start since 2016, and first win over a ranked opponent since 2007. Sacramento State is currently in the midst of a stretch that will see the team play seven of its first eight matches at home. That includes another home match next Saturday vs. Saint Mary's at 6 p.m.
Playing against a Florida team that started six players that stood six feet or taller (including four standing 6-foot-3 or taller), the Hornets held their own and had many long rallies that pleased the crowd of 690 fans. However, the Gators hit .413 with 43 kills and just five errors in 92 attacks. Conversely, Sacramento State hit .098 with 35 kills and 24 miscues in 112 swings.
Macey Hayden played well for the Hornets, finishing with nine kills and a .368 hitting percentage while true freshman Ellie Tisko posted eight kills and a .400 hitting percentage. Libero Michelle Taynton led all players with 18 digs and Bridgette Smith had nine kills, six digs and zero reception errors in 30 serves sent her way.
Kalani Hayes had five kills, Tiyanane Kamba-Griffin two blocks, and setters Ashtin Olin (15 ast, 7 digs) and McKenna Smith (12 ast, 2 digs) combined for 27 assists and nine digs.
For Florida, T'Ara Ceasar had 12 kills and a .440 hitting percentage while Thayer Hall registered 10 kills and a pair of blocks. Setter Marlie Monserez had four kills, a .667 hitting percentage, 32 assists, eight digs and four blocks.
Next week's schedule for the Hornets includes a road matchup at San Jose State on Thursday (6 p.m.) followed by Saturday's home game vs. Saint Mary's. The team will host the two-day, four-team Sacramento State Invitational on Sept. 10-11. The tournament field includes the Hornets, Pacific, Boise State and Cal State Northridge.
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