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SF State women’s volleyball splits D2 West Region Showcase, beats ART U

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Drew Morris (1), Lauren Williams (4), Jessica Haynie (9) and Payton Jensen (20) celebrate with their teammates at the D2 West Region Showcase. (Cody Glen / SF State)

The San Francisco State women’s volleyball team split a pair of matches on Saturday to conclude the D2 West Region Showcase, earning a split in the four-match tournament, bookending the weekend with a pair of sweeps. The Gators beat Saint Martins on Friday in straight sets, and earned their fifth sweep of the season with a Saturday sweep of cross-city opponent Academy of Art University.

The Gators fell in the second game Friday, 3-2, to Montana State Billings, before getting swept by Hawaii Hilo to start Saturday, falling in straight sets, 25-18, 25-21 and 25-23. To finish the tournament, SF State battered the Urban Knights, 25-16, 25-13, 25-13, to move to 5-2 on the season.

Freshman setter Payton Jensen earned All-Tournament honors for the San Francisco pod of the showcase, which has six pods throughout the state of California and is played over three days, and includes schools from Alaska to Hawaii to San Diego. Jensen notched 134 assists and 25 digs over the four matches.

In the first set against Hawaii Hilo on Saturday, SF State shot out to a quick 6-2 lead, thanks to the first of a season-best six kills from freshman middle blocker Marlena Billings. Hawaii Hilo came back to take a 12-11 lead before Jessica Haynie notched a kill, and followed that up with a service ace to regain the momentum. The Vulcans tied things up again at 15-15, and went on a 7-0 run to get to match point at 24-17, before taking the first set 25-18, as the Gators hit just .213 with seven errors.

Baily Johnson — who hit .647 for the match (the fifth-best hitting percentage in program history) — tied the second set up at 4-4, but Hawaii Hilo kept the pressure on, taking a 10-7 lead on a kill by Bria Beale. Johnson got a kill on the sideline and followed with a block to tie things back up at 12-12. The two teams would go back and forth, with the Gators going up 19-17 after a block by Johnson and Olivia Tabron, but the Vulcans scored six of the final seven points for the 25-21 win.

Hawai’i Hilo hit .353 against the Gators — the highest hitting percentage allowed this season — and finished off the sweep with another close set win, 25-23, ralling from down 22-19 after a ball handling error.

Next up was the Academy of Art, which came in winless in seven matches this season. SF State held the Urban Knights to a -.058 hitting percentage — the lowest they’ve allowed this season. The Gators also held a 43-17 kill advantage, and a 39-16 advantage in digs. Both Tabron and Billings had seven digs apiece, while senior libero Vanessa Ditz had 10. Ditz, with her performance, has now notched double-digit digs in every match so far this season.

The first set, though, wasn’t so smooth. Academy of Art got up 5-1 before a Morris kill and a service error by the Urban Knights. They fell behind again, 11-7, before scoring six straight with kills from Tabron and Morris, along with aces by sophomore Jade Gillespie. SF State rolled off six straight points to get to match point at 24-15, and won on an attack error.

The Gators won the next two sets easily, both 25-13, with redshirt senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Clemann notching the winning kill in the second set.

SF State stays home next weekend as they begin CCAA action, with Cal State Dominguez Hills coming to town on September 7 at 7 p.m. The Gators then take on Cal State Los Angeles on Sept. 8.

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