Fresh off a home victory Saturday night against Weber State, the Sacramento State volleyball squad (6-11, 2-6) begins a season-long five-match road trip this week with matchups against Montana on Friday and Montana State on Saturday. Both games will begin at 6 p.m. PDT.
After playing the Montana schools, the Hornets will take on Santa Clara, Portland State and Eastern Washington on the road next week. The Santa Clara game will be the team's final non-conference match of the season.
With 20 matches scheduled for each team during the conference season, Sacramento State will have reached the midway point of Big Sky play at conclusion of Saturday night's game at Montana State. With only six of the league's 11 teams qualifying for the Big Sky Tournament, its starting to become crunch time for the Hornets if they want to reach the postseason event.
Sacramento State currently finds itself in eighth place in the league standings, but just two games behind both North Dakota and Southern Utah, who are tied for sixth place with 4-4 conference records. Montana State sits in fifth place with a 5-3 league record. Since joining the Big Sky in 1996, Sacramento State has reached the league's postseason event 14 times during the program's 16-year tenure.
Montana will enter Friday night's match with a 3-14 overall record and a 1-7 league mark. The Grizzlies have dropped four straight and eight of their last nine games. The only win during that stretch came at home against Eastern Washington on Sept. 22. Sacramento State is 26-9 all-time against the Grizzlies, including a 12-6 mark when playing in Missoula. However, Montana has won each of the last four matchups against the Hornets in Missoula. The two teams have split the season series each of the last two years with the home team winning each time.
Montana State will enter Saturday with an 11-5 overall record and 5-3 league mark. The Bobcats are arguably the Big Sky's most improved squad, having already surpassed their win total from all of last season when the team finished 6-23. MSU is 3-1 at home against conference foes this season, including wins over Eastern Washington, Idaho State and Weber State. The Hornets are 36-6 all-time against the Bobcats, including a 12-5 record when playing in Bozeman. The Hornets swept the season series last year and have won three straight, and 16 of the last 17 meetings between the two teams.
Like every match played in a Big Sky venue (home or road), a free video stream and live stats will be offered for both matches this week.
THIS WEEK'S MATCHUPS
Sacramento State at Montana
Friday, Oct. 12, at 6 p.m. PDT
West Auxiliary Gym - Missoula, Mont.
Coverage: Live Stats, Live Video
Series Record: Sacramento State Leads, 26-9
Last Meeting: W, 3-0, in Sacramento - Nov. 12, 2011
Sacramento State at Montana State
Saturday, Oct. 13, at 6 p.m. PDT
Shroyer Gym - Bozeman, Mont.
Coverage: Live Stats, Live Video
Series Record: Sacramento State Leads, 36-6
Last Meeting: W, 3-0, in Sacramento - Nov. 10, 2011
- Although the Hornets' record on the road is just 1-5 this season, that mark isn't nearly as bad as it seems. In four of the team's five losses, Sacramento State won at least one set. In addition, the team has dropped six sets by three points or less. The Hornets are 0-4 on the road against Big Sky teams thus far, but played Northern Arizona, Southern Utah and North Dakota tough before eventually falling.
- Sacramento State is now second in the nation with an average of 3.20 blocks per set, and the team has three players ranking among the country's top 130 in that category. Middle blocker is 8th (1.57 per set), middle blocker is 53rd (1.28 per set) and rightside hitter is 127th (1.09 per set). Those three players rank first, third and seventh, respectively, in the Big Sky. The Hornets have outblocked their opponent in all but four matches this year, and have recorded at least 10.0 team blocks on 13 occasions. That includes 21.0 team blocks on Saturday against Weber State, which tied for the seventh best mark in school history.
- Outside hitter (7), rightside hitter (6) and setter (1) have combined to miss 14 matches this year because of injury. All three are regulars in the Hornets' rotation. The Genger injury has had the largest impact as the second-year transfer from Gonzaga was one of the team's starting outside hitters and team co-captain. Genger has missed the past seven matches and Sacramento State is hitting just .112 over that span, including sub-.100 hitting percentages in all four conference road contests. In 10 games with Genger in the lineup, the team was hitting 85 points higher (.197). Through the first two weeks of the season, the Kent, Wash., native 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, and she has not played since the win over Eastern Washington on Sept. 13.
- The Hornets have already gained plenty of experience playing in close sets this season. Sacramento State has played in 23 different sets that were decided by three points or less. In fact, over 35 percent of the team's 65 sets played have resulted in two or three-point outcomes. Recently, the team has struggled in close sets, dropping eight of the last 10 that resulted in two or three-point outcomes. Overall, the team is 9-14 in such sets.
- Eleven of the squad's 15 players have started at least one match after defensive specialist started her first match of the year on Friday against Idaho State. Outside hitter , rightside hitter and middle blocker are the only players to start every match thus far.
- Outside hitter has now started each of the Hornets' last 113 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 now sits in eighth place in Sacramento State's career record book with 1,505 digs. In addition, her 1,265 kills are just eight 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.
- Sacramento State continues to lead the Big Sky with an average of 1.43 aces per set, a mark which ranks 58th in the nation. The team has recorded at least three aces in all but three matches this season, including a season-best 12 against Jacksonville and 10 more against UC Davis. Libero leads the conference in total aces (29) and aces per set (0.45).
- The Hornets' 15.84 digs per set against conference competition is the second best mark in the Big Sky. ranks third in the conference in overall digs per set (4.68) and digs per set against league foes (5.06).
- The Hornets are hitting .210 at home compared to just a .097 mark on the road.
- Defensive specialist has combined for 35 digs over her last four matches after recording a total of seven digs during the team's first 12 games of the season.
- Over her last four matches, middle blocker is averaging 1.53 kills and 1.93 blocks per set while hitting .321 over that span. Her career-high 13 blocks against Weber State were tied for the third best mark in Hornet single-match history.
- Middle blocker is averaging 2.0 blocks per set over her last three matches, which includes a career-high 11 at North Dakota on Sept. 29.
- Sacramento State is now 3-0 when rightside hitter records at least six kills, and 0-8 when she has five kills or fewer.
- Freshman outside hitter recorded a season-high 12 kills in both matches last week, averaging 2.67 kills per set over that two-match span. Her four blocks against Weber State on Saturday were also a season best.
- Rightside hitter has at least nine kills in eight straight matches, and is averaging a team-best 2.81 kills per set over that eight-match span. In six of those contests, she posted double figures in kills, including a season-high 15 last Friday against Idaho State.