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Women's Volleyball

 
September 26, 2012

VOLLEYBALL CONTINUES ROAD TRIP, WILL MAKE FIRST TRIP TO STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA SINCE 1989

The Sacramento State volleyball squad (5-8, 1-3) wraps up its four-game road trip this week with matchups at Northern Colorado on Thursday (6 p.m. PDT) and North Dakota on Saturday (12 p.m. PDT). The trip to North Dakota will mark the program's first to the Peace Garden State since falling in five sets to North Dakota State on Sept. 29, 1989. Saturday will be the team's first-ever trip to Grand Forks to take on North Dakota.

The Hornets have hit a rough patch of late, dropping three straight and five of the last six matches. The lone victory during that span came in a home sweep of Eastern Washington on Sept. 13. The team played its first conference road matches of the season last week, and fell in four sets to both Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.

Sacramento State currently finds itself tied for eighth in the 11-team Big Sky Conference standings. Idaho State and Portland State sit atop the league with 4-0 conference records while Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado are tied for third with 3-1 marks. The Hornets had a match point at home against Portland State two weeks ago before falling in the fifth set, 16-14. At the end of the regular season, the top six teams qualify for the Big Sky Tournament, making this an important week as Sacramento State does not want to fall too far behind in the standings.

Northern Colorado will enter Thursday night's match with a 10-3 overall record and 3-1 league mark. The Bears' lone loss during conference play came last week at Idaho State in five sets. Northern Colorado is 6-2 at home, which includes 3-1 victories over both Montana and Montana State to begin the conference season. Sacramento State snapped an eight-match losing streak to the Bears last season with a three-set sweep at home. However, the Hornets have lost five straight when playing on Northern Colorado's home floor, and haven't won there since 2006. Overall, the Bears lead the all-time series, 9-8, including a 5-1 record when playing in Greeley.

North Dakota will enter Saturday's matinee with a 6-8 overall record and 2-2 mark in the conference. UND is one of two programs new to the Big Sky this season (Southern Utah), and the team has won two of its last three matches. Sacramento State and North Dakota will be playing for the second time, with the lone previous matchup coming in a 3-0 Hornet win (15-2, 15-5, 15-1) in Sacramento on Oct. 29, 1988. In that match, Sacramento State hit .449 while limiting North Dakota to a .015 percentage. UND will bring a 3-2 home record into Saturday's contest, which includes a home split with the Montana schools to open the Big Sky portion of the schedule (3-2 loss to Montana State, 3-0 win over Montana). 

Like every Big Sky Conference matchup this year (home or road), a free video stream and live stats will be offered for both matches this week. In addition, Northern Colorado will provide audio play-by-play on Thursday. Audio for that match is free and can be found by clicking here.

THIS WEEK'S MATCHUPS

Sacramento State at Northern Colorado
Thursday, Sept. 27, at 6 p.m. PDT
Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion - Greeley, Colo.
Coverage: Live StatsLive AudioLive Video
Series Record: Northern Colorado leads, 9-8
Last Meeting: L, 3-1, in Greeley - Oct. 27, 2011

Sacramento State at North Dakota
Saturday Sept. 29, at Noon PDT
Betty Engelstad Center - Grand Forks, N.D.
Coverage: Live StatsLive Video
Series Record: Sacramento State leads, 1-0
Last Meeting: W, 3-0, in Sacramento - Oct. 29, 1988

TEAM NOTABLES

- Through the first seven matches of the season, Sacramento State was hitting a respectable .219 as a team, and carried a 4-3 record. However, over the last six matches, the team has combined to hit just .125, including sub-.100 hitting percentages on four occasions. Not coincidentally, Sacramento State is 1-5 during the six-match span. Against Big Sky competition, the Hornets are hitting .140, which ranks ninth in the conference.

- Sacramento State is currently first in the Big Sky and sixth in the nation with an average of 3.02 blocks per set. In fact, that mark is nearly a half block per set better than any other conference team. This comes after the Hornets finished 13th in the nation in blocks last year with 2.76 per set. The Hornets have outblocked their opponent in all but three matches this year, and have recorded at least 10.0 team blocks on 10 occasions. Senior middle blocker Olivia Moss is averaging a team-high 1.41 blocks per set, which would rank as the top mark in the conference if she had played in enough sets to qualify. Moss is one of four Hornets averaging more than one block per set, including middle blocker Ashley Newcomb (3rd in the Big Sky with 1.15 bps) and rightside hitter Kayla Beal (6th with 1.06 bps). Middle blocker Chelcy Motes, who has played in 14 sets this year, is averaging 1.50 blocks.

- The Hornets have already gained plenty of experience playing in close sets this season. Despite the 5-8 record, Sacramento State has been outscored by just 31 points all season. The team has played in 14 different sets that were decided by two points. In fact, nearly 30 percent of the team's 49 sets played have resulted in two-point outcomes. Sacramento State has been victorious in seven of those sets.

- All 15 players on Sacramento State's roster have played this season, and 10 different players have started at least one match. Outside hitter Janelle Currey, rightside hitter Kayla Beal, middle blocker Ashley Newcomb and setter Hannah Hettinga are the lone players to start every match thus far.

- Starting outside hitter and senior team co-captain Jessie Genger has missed the last three matches because of a lower leg injury and the Hornets are 0-3 over that span. Genger had battled the injury most of the season until the problem forced her to depart midway through the Eastern Washington match. Through the first two weeks of the season, the transfer from Gonzaga was leading the Big Sky with 4.45 kills per set. However, the injury really began to affect her play during the third and fourth weeks of the year. To compensate for the loss of Genger, head coach Ruben Volta has been forced to start a true freshman at outside hitter. Lauren Aikels (2 starts) and Sloan Lovett (1 start) have both started on the outside. The pair have done a nice job thus far, combining to average 4.22 kills and 2.07 digs per set over that three-set span.

- Outside hitter Janelle Currey has now started each of the Hornets' last 109 matches dating back to the first match of her career in 2009. The fourth-year senior, three-time team captain and three-time Big Sky all-academic selection has quietly moved into 10th place in Sacramento State's career record book with 1,459 digs. In addition, her 1,231 kills are just 42 shy of breaking into the top 10 on that list as well. She is already one of just 11 Hornets since 1985 to join the 1,000 kills/1,000 digs club.

- The Hornets are 2-0 when rightside hitter Kiley Mansfield records at least eight kills, and 0-5 when she finishes under that mark…Sacramento State leads the Big Sky and ranks 30th in the nation with an average of 1.57 aces per set. The top two players in the league in that category are Hornets, comprised of Jessie Genger (1st with 0.50 per set) and Sydney Kordic (2nd with 0.45 per set)…speaking of Kordic, she has moved up to third in the Big Sky with an average of 4.41 digs per set, and has tallied double digits in digs in all but one match this year…Sacramento State is 4-1 when middle blocker Ashley Newcomb posts at least a .300 hitting percentage and 1-7 when she hits below that mark…rightside hitter Kayla Beal has tallied double digits in kills in four straight matches, and is averaging 2.75 kills per set against Big Sky competition, the second best mark on the team.

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