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The Sacramento State volleyball squad (4-5 overall) opens Big Sky Conference play this week with a pair of home matches against Eastern Washington on Thursday and Portland State on Saturday. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m. Fans that purchase a ticket for Saturday afternoon's Hornet home football game (2 p.m.) can use their ticket stub to gain free admittance to the volleyball match later that evening.

Thursday will mark the earliest the Hornets have begun the Big Sky portion of the schedule since joining the league in 1996. This year, the Big Sky expanded to 11 teams that includes new members North Dakota and Southern Utah, and each team will now play 20 league matches after playing 16 each of the previous six seasons.

All nine Sacramento State matches thus far have been part of tournaments as the team went 1-2 at the College of Charleston Tourney (Aug. 24-25), 2-1 at the Sacramento State Invitational (Aug. 31-Sept. 1) and 1-2 at the Fresno State Classic (Sept. 7-8). 

Eastern Washington, which was picked to finish third in the Big Sky preseason poll, has fallen on tough times due to a variety of injuries. The Eagles (0-11) have played the majority of the season without their two setters because of injury. However, senior setter Laney Brown has started the last two matches after missing the previous six with a broken toe. The Hornets are 29-13 all-time against the Eagles, and swept last year's two meetings between the two schools. The two programs have developed a strong rivalry over the years as Sacramento State and Eastern Washington have faced each other in the Big Sky Tournament championship match eight times since 1998. The Hornets won seven of those eight meetings.

Portland State, which was picked to finish second in the Big Sky preseason poll, enters the week with a 4-6 overall record. The Vikings have dropped three of their last four matches, and play a non-conference home matchup with Oregon on Wednesday night. The Vikings will be looking for their first victory on an opponent's home floor on Saturday (0-3). Sacramento State is 36-18 all-time against Portland State, and has won 17 of the last 18 meetings in Sacramento dating back to 1990. That includes a three-set sweep (25-10, 25-20, 25-15) of the Vikings at Colberg Court last year.

Like every home match this season, live stats and a free live video stream will be available for fans. In addition, Brian Berger will provide the play-by-play audio for Thursday's match.


Sacramento State vs. Eastern Washington
Thursday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m.
Colberg Court - Sacramento, Calif.
Coverage: Live StatsLive AudioLive Video
Series Record: Sacramento State leads, 29-13
Last Meeting: W, 3-2, in Cheney - Nov. 18, 2011

Sacramento State vs. Portland State
Saturday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m.
Colberg Court - Sacramento, Calif.
Coverage: Live StatsLive Video
Series Record: Sacramento State leads, 36-18
Last Meeting: L, 3-1, in Portland - Nov. 25, 2011


- Since joining the Big Sky Conference in 1996, the Hornets are 12-4 in conference-opening matches, and 10-2 when opening the Big Sky season at home. The Hornets had won 10 straight when opening the conference season inside the friendly confines until a five-set loss to Northern Arizona last year.

- Sacramento State has combined for a 13-3 record over the last two years against Big Sky competition when playing at Colberg Court.

- Sacramento State is currently first in the Big Sky Conference and 16th in the nation with an average of 2.88 blocks per set. The team finished 13th in the nation in that category last year with 2.76 per set. Senior middle blocker Olivia Moss leads the way with 1.44 blocks per set, the 20th best mark in the nation. The Hornets have outblocked their opponent in all but one match this year (Utah Valley), and have recorded at least 10.0 team blocks on six occasions. Amazingly, the Hornets have three players ranking among the top six in the Big Sky, comprised of Moss (2nd), Ashley Newcomb (4th, 1.16) and Kayla Beal (6th, 1.09).

- Led by outside hitter Jessie Genger and libero Sydney Kordic, Sacramento State is first in the Big Sky, and 24th in the nation with an average of 1.67 aces per set. The Hornets have 55 aces, including a team-high 17 from Genger and 15 from Kordic. Genger now ranks 23rd in the nation with 0.53 aces per set while Kordic is 57th with 0.45 per set. Ashley Newcomb (6), Hannah Hettinga (6), Kayla Beal (5) and Janelle Currey (4) also have contributed to the large ace total. 

- Head coach Ruben Volta has used the same starting lineup in all nine matches this year, comprised of Jessie Genger and Janelle Currey at outside hitter, Ashley Newcomb and Olivia Moss at middle blocker, Kayla Beal at rightside hitter, Hannah Hettinga at setter and Sydney Kordic at libero.

- Last Saturday, Sacramento State posted its two lowest hitting percentages of the season comprised of a .079 mark against Utah Valley and .092 against UC Davis. The Hornets entered last week's Fresno State Classic with a respectable .237 team hitting percentage, but combined to hit just .115 during the three-match tournament. The team is now hitting .192, which is the eighth best mark in the 11-team Big Sky.

- Outside hitter Janelle Currey and rightside hitter Kiley Mansfield were both all-tournament selections at last week's Fresno State Classic, Currey and Jessie Genger received all-tournament accolades at the Sacramento State Invitational, and Genger received the honor at the season-opening Hampton Inn & Suites West Ashley Invitational in Charleston.

- After redshirting last season, middle blocker Ashley Newcomb has gotten her sophomore season off to an impressive start. The El Paso, Texas, native is averaging 1.44 kills and 1.16 blocks per set while hitting .296. Her nine blocks against UC Davis were a career high, and she had three straight aces that helped fuel a comeback from a 13-8 fifth-set deficit against Fresno State on Friday night.

- Outside hitter Jessie Genger had her streak of six straight matches with double figures in kills snapped on Friday against Fresno State. Genger's 3.53 kills per set leads the Hornets and ranks sixth in the Big Sky.

- Outside hitter Janelle Currey posted two more double-doubles (kills and digs) last week, raising her career total to 52. She has now started each of the Hornets' last 105 matches dating back to the first match of her career in 2009. In 160 serves sent her way this season, Currey has just three reception errors, good for a lofty .981 reception percentage.