ARCATA – Perhaps it was playing in northern California that provided a weekend elixir Saturday for the Chico State volleyball team. The Wildcats shrugged off traveling the hundreds of miles following Thursday's road loss to Cal Poly Pomona and delivered a strong performance in Arcata, downing Humboldt State in four sets 25-18, 24-26, 25-20, 25-14 at Lumberjack Arena.
With Saturday's win, Chico State evened its overall record at 9-9 and moved the Wildcats into a tie with Cal State Monterey Bay for fifth place in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) with a 6-5 conference record. Humboldt State dropped to 9-9 on the season and 4-7 in CCAA play.
Alex Shurtz turned in a huge night for the 'Cats, piling up a match-high 23 kills while contributing 11 digs, a service ace and a block. Three other Wildcats posted double-digit kills: Lindsay Quigley pounded home 14 winners and added three blocks; Ashton Kershner posted a season-high 11 kills, and Ellie Larronde tallied 10 kills, 14 digs and three blocks. Torey Thompson dished out 51 assists and chipped in with 11 digs; Emily Duran delivered 27 digs, and Lauren Orozco and Molly Ratto graced the stat sheets with 11 digs apiece. As a team, Chico State mustered a solid .284 hitting percentage on the evening.
Humboldt State grabbed an early 5-2 lead in the opening set, and were still up 11-9 before Chico State took over the contest with a 12-4 run – the Wildcats stuffed three Lumberjacks attacks for points and used kills by Shurtz, Larronde, Kershner and Quigley to go out in front 21-15. The 'Cats put the set away with a Shurtz/Quigley combo block and a Quigley kill to win by a final of 25-18.
Chico State rode four Shurtz kills and single winners by Larronde, Thompson and Kershner to race out to a 11-6 lead in the second set, but this time it would be the Lumberjacks that would craft a comeback – with the score 16-12, Humboldt broke off a 12-7 run to put the 'Jacks on top 24-23. The Wildcats avoided one set point to tie things up at 24-all, only to see Humboldt come through with back-to-back kills by Kaitlyn Dunaway to win the set 26-24 and even the match at a victory apiece.
The Lumberjacks once again got the upper hand early in the third set, building a 12-9 lead. Chico State promptly rallied to knot things up at 14-apiece on the strength of kills by Larronde, Shurtz and Kershner. The contest was still tied at 20-all before the Wildcats posted the final five points – four coming on Shurtz kills – to win the set going away 25-20.
After spotting the Lumberjacks the first point of the fourth set, it was all Wildcats – Chico State tallied eight of the next 10 points to go out in front, then with the score 9-5 went on a 7-2 run, combining two Humboldt miscues with a Shurtz service ace, a Kershner/Natalie Nordahl combo block, and kills by Shurtz, Kershner and Thompson to extend its advantage to 16-7. The Lumberjacks could get no closer than seven points the rest of the way, and two late kills by Nordahl provided the final points as the 'Cats' took the set 25-14 and claimed the match victory.
The Wildcats return home next weekend to host Cal State East Bay on Friday and Cal State Monterey Bay Saturday at Acker Gym. Both matches are scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m.