VOLLEYBALL STILL IN PLAYOFF HUNT, PLAYS ITS FINAL WEEK OF THE REGULAR SEASON AT HOME
It comes down to this. One week left in the regular season, and the Sacramento State volleyball team needs to win both its remaining matches, and hope for a little help from other teams to qualify for the Big Sky Conference Tournament.
The Hornets (10-18, 6-12) got into this position by posting a huge road win against Weber State on Saturday, and still have hopes of reaching the conference's postseason tournament for the 15th time since joining the league in 1996. Both of the final two regular-season matches will come at home against Montana State on Thursday, and Montana on Saturday. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.
The top six teams in the 11-member league reach the Big Sky Tournament, and there is currently a three-team race for the sixth and final spot between Montana State (8-10), Southern Utah (7-11) and Sacramento State (6-12).
Each of those three teams have two matches remaining, and Sacramento State needs to win its final two, Montana State has to lose its final two, and Southern Utah needs to lose at least once for the Hornets to clinch the playoff spot. Sacramento State is far from being in the driver's seat for that last spot, but the Hornets do own the tiebreaker against both teams. Should all three teams finish with identical 8-12 records, Sacramento State will win that tiebreaker as well.
All of this sets up the biggest match of the season for the Hornets on Thursday night against Montana State. A Sacramento State win, and the Hornets are still alive. A Montana State win, and the Hornets would be eliminated from playoff contention. The remaining schedules for all three teams are below.
MONTANA STATE (8-10) - Thursday away at Sacramento State, Monday away at Montana
SOUTHERN UTAH (7-11) - Thursday home vs. Northern Colorado, Saturday home vs. North Dakota
SACRAMENTO STATE (6-12) - Thursday home vs. Montana State, Saturday home vs. Montana
The other five spots in the Big Sky Tournament field have been decided as Idaho State (16-2) and Portland State (15-3) are battling for the No. 1 seed, followed by Northern Arizona (14-4), Northern Colorado (12-6) and North Dakota (10-8). Montana (4-14), Eastern Washington (4-14) and Weber State (3-15) have each been eliminated from postseason contention. This year's tournament will take place Nov. 23-24 in Greeley, Colo., the home court of last year's Big Sky regular season and tournament champion Northern Colorado.
Sacramento State is 6-5 at home this year, including a 4-4 record against Big Sky competition. Three of those four conference losses at home came in five sets to the league's first place (Idaho State), second place (Portland State) and fourth place (Northern Colorado) teams. So, the Hornets have played well inside the friendly confines in nearly every league match this season, and will need to work that Colberg Court magic two more times this week.
Not only are the Hornets looking to clinch a postseason berth, the team is also looking to avoid finishing lower than sixth place in the conference standings for the first time since joining the Big Sky in 1996.
Saturday night's game against Montana will mark the final regular season matches in the careers of Hornet seniors , , , , and . Moss is a fifth-year senior while both Currey and Kordic are fourth-year seniors. Each of the six seniors will be honored for their contributions to the program prior to Saturday night's match.
Montana State will enter Thursday's contest with a 14-12 overall record and 8-10 conference mark. The Bobcats have dropped three straight, including home matches last week against Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. The NAU loss was especially heartbreaking for MSU as it came in a 19-17 fifth-set defeat. The Hornets beat Montana State earlier this season in Bozeman by a 3-1 score, which included a 28-26 win in the third set and 27-25 in the fourth frame. Sacramento State has history on its side as the team is 37-6 all-time against the Bobcats, including a 20-1 record when playing in Sacramento. In fact, the Hornets have won 18 straight matches when playing MSU in Sacramento with the only loss on the home floor coming in a five-set grinder in 1997.
Montana will enter Saturday's contest with a 6-21 overall record and 4-14 conference mark. One of those victories came against the Hornets in Missoula on Oct. 12 via 25-20, 25-16, 20-25, 25-22 score. The Grizzlies are 1-8 on the road against Big Sky teams, including four straight road defeats. The team's lone road win came in five sets against Montana State on Oct. 15. The Hornets own a 26-10 all-time record against the Grizzlies, including a 12-3 mark when playing in Sacramento. That includes wins in 11 of the last 12 meetings in Sacramento dating back to the 2000 season.
Like every game played in a Big Sky venue (home or road), a free video stream and live stats will be offered for both matches this week. In addition, live audio will be provided by play-by-play man Brian Berger for Thursday's contest against Montana State.
THIS WEEK'S MATCHUPS
Sacramento State vs. Montana State
Thursday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m.
Colberg Court - Sacramento, Calif.
Coverage: Live Stats, Live Audio, Live Video
Series Record: Sacramento State Leads, 37-6
Last Meeting: W, 3-1, in Bozeman - Oct. 13, 2012
Sacramento State vs. Montana
Saturday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m.
Colberg Court - Sacramento, Calif.
Coverage: Live Stats, Live Video
Series Record: Sacramento State Leads, 26-10
Last Meeting: L, 3-1, in Missoula - Oct. 12, 2012
JANELLE CURREY (Rocklin, Calif.) -- Has played and started every match of her career, a span of 124 consecutive starts…only Lisa Beauchene (2000-03) started more consecutive contests (131 straight starts) during her career as a Hornet…one of just 11 Sacramento State players since 1985 to reach the 1,000 career kills and digs plateau…currently ranks fifth in Sacramento State history with 1,636 digs, and seventh with 1,338 kills…those numbers rank her seventh in Big Sky Conference history in career digs, and 17th in kills…needs just 13 digs to move into fourth place in the Hornet record book…a three-time team captain and three-time Big Sky all-academic selection…has 12 double-doubles (kills and digs) this season, and 60 during her career.
SYDNEY KORDIC (San Ramon, Calif.) -- Has never missed a match during her four-year career, a streak of 124 straight contests played…played at right back her first three seasons before making the move to libero this year…her 156 career aces rank as the fifth best mark in Sacramento State history, and 13th best mark in Big Sky Conference history…also has 1,453 career digs, and needs just 36 digs to crack into Sacramento State's all-time top 10 in that category…currently averaging 0.45 aces and 4.84 digs per set, the best marks of her career…the aces rank as the 15th best mark in the nation and the digs are the 80th best mark…her overall number of 49 aces this year are 12 better than any other player in the conference, and the digs rank as the third highest mark.
OLIVIA MOSS (Monument, Colo.) -- The team's only fifth-year senior (2008-12, received a medical hardship in 2009)…has appeared in 101 matches, including 70 starts and 298 sets played during her Hornet career…has increased her blocks per set average every season, culminating in a career-best 1.40 per set this season…that average is easily the best mark in the Big Sky, and 22nd highest in the nation…has tallied at least five blocks on 13 occasions this year, including a career-high 13 at home against Weber State, which is tied for the third best mark in Sacramento State single-match history…has 94 kills this year, including 22 kills over her last four matches.
JESSIE GENGER (Kent, Wash.) -- In her second year at Sacramento State after transferring from Gonzaga prior the 2011 season…after playing at rightside hitter last year, she was moved to outside hitter this season…has played all season with a lower leg injury, the same injury that forced her to miss eight matches earlier this season…despite the injury, she currently ranks first on the Hornets and fifth in the Big Sky with 3.28 kills per set…also has averages of 2.32 digs, 0.44 blocks and 0.31 aces per set…has posted 15 matches with double figures in kills this year, and four double-doubles (kills and digs)…has led the Hornets in kills in 10 of the 20 matches she has appeared…her career-high 24 kills against Northern Colorado are the most by a Hornet this year.
ALEX DIEMER (Rocklin, Calif.) -- In her second year with the Hornets…practiced with the team last year, but did not play in any matches per NCAA transfer rules after playing at Washington State in 2009 and 2010…has appeared in seven matches this year at both setter and defensive specialist, including 11 sets played…had a season-best four digs at Santa Clara, and collected an assist vs. North Carolina State…has played in each of the team's last two home matches against Northern Colorado and North Dakota.
CHANEL COLEMAN (Elk Grove, Calif.) -- Currently in her lone season at Sacramento State after transferring from Simpson University in Redding…has appeared in 10 matches, including 15 sets played…averaging 0.60 kills and 0.93 blocks per set to go along with a .217 hitting percentage…has four matches with at least two kills, including a season-high three in a win over Jacksonville…also has at least two blocks on five occasions, including a season-best three stuffs against Saint Mary's…hit .500 (3-0-6) against Jacksonville, and .400 (2-0-5) vs. Saint Mary's.