SACRAMENTO -- Sacramento State held advantages in nearly every statistical category over Saint Mary's, but fell in five sets to the Gaels (7-25, 25-21, 25-15, 16-25, 15-6) on Saturday evening at the Nest.
Playing without a pair of injured starters (setter Ashtin Olin, middle blocker Cianna Andrews), the Hornets had 10 more kills than the Gaels (51-41) and limited Saint Mary's to a .143 hitting percentage. However, 14 service errors and inconsistent play were too much to overcome. Sacramento State hit above .300 in both its victorious sets, and below .100 in all three of its losing sets. That included a negative hitting percentage in the fifth, when the team had three kills with six errors in 17 attacks.
In that fifth set, the Gaels jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never looked back as Saint Mary's hit .429 in the frame. The Hornets crushed Saint Mary's in the first set (25-7), and things looked good after jumping out to a 7-3 lead in the second set. However, Saint Mary's responded with a 6-2 run, and both teams went back and forth the remainder of the match.
Sacramento State dropped to 2-3 on the young season while Saint Mary's improved to 4-1. The Hornets are 2-2 at home, and seven of the team's first eight matches of the season will come inside the Nest, including next week's Sacramento State Invitational.
Hornet sophomore outside hitter Bridgette Smith was impressive again, matching her career high with 21 kills while hitting .347 with 12 digs, four blocks and an ace. Smith has led the Hornets in kills in every match this season, and is averaging 3.75 per set. Middle blocker Tiyanane Kamba-Griffin continued to perform well, finishing with six kills, a .357 hitting percentage and career-best eight blocks. The eight stuffs were three more than any other Hornet. Libero Michelle Taynton had a match-high tying 20 digs.
For the second straight match, setter McKenna Smith played every point as she usually helps orchestrate a 6-2 offense with Olin. Smith finished with three kills, 16 digs and a career-best 38 assists. Outside hitter Caitlin Volkmann posted 10 kills, three blocks and career-best four aces, and Kalani Hayes registered six kills and five blocks. True freshman Ellie Tisko notched four kills, a .500 hitting percentage and three blocks. Caty Cordano added eight digs.
Sacramento State finished with a season-best 14 blocks. The Hornets hit .171 and had seven aces compared to 14 service errors. Saint Mary's was led by Selbie Christensen's 11 kills, seven blocks and .588 hitting percentage.
The Hornets are back in action next week when they host the Sacramento State Invitational. The two-day, four-team tournament features the Hornets, Pacific, Boise State and CSUN. Four matches will be played Friday, including Sacramento State taking on CSUN at noon, and Pacific at 7 p.m. The Hornets conclude the tournament on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. vs. Boise State.
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