|After playing the final non-conference match of the season on Tuesday at Santa Clara, Sacramento State (7-13, 3-7) jumps back into Big Sky Conference play with road games at Portland State on Saturday and Eastern Washington on Monday. The Eastern Washington match will mark the end of a season-long five-game road trip. The game against EWU is also the first and only time all season the Hornets will play on a Monday.
All 11 teams in the Big Sky have reached the midway point of the conference season. With 10 matches remaining, Sacramento State will play six of those at home and four on the road. That includes a stretch of six of its final eight inside the friendly confines.
The Hornets have dug themselves a bit of a hole with the 3-7 league record thus far, but still sit just two games out of a possible playoff berth. The top six teams in the 11-member league qualify for the Big Sky Tournament (Nov. 23-24), and the Hornets are currently tied for eighth with Montana. North Dakota and Montana State hold down the fifth and sixth spots with 5-5 records, and if the season ended today, Sacramento State would own the tiebreaker with MSU.
The Hornets have split their last four matches, which included a 3-1 win at Montana State last Saturday. That win was the team's first against a Big Sky opponent on the road this season. Sacramento State hopes to carry that momentum into this week's matchups which include a date with Portland State, which is currently tied for first with a 9-1 league record. Eastern Washington has yet to win a match this season and sits at 0-21 overall and 0-10 on the road.
The Vikings, who host Eastern Washington on Thursday night, enter the week with a 13-8 overall record. Sacramento State and the Vikings played a five-set grinder in the teams' first meeting of the season in Sacramento on Sept. 15. In fact, the Hornets had a match point at 14-13 of the fifth set before the Vikings responded by winning the final three points of the match. The Hornets own a 36-19 record in the all-time series between the two teams, but have dropped the last four meetings in Portland, including a Big Sky Tournament semifinal loss last season. Since the teams first began playing each other in 1979, the Hornets are 13-10 when playing the Vikings in Portland, but have dropped seven of the last eight meetings in the Stott Center.
Eastern Washington is winless on the season, and has dealt with a series of injuries and its head coach stepping down one week into the season. Currently led by interim head coach Lisa Westlake, the Eagles were selected to finish third in the Big Sky preseason coaches poll. EWU is 0-5 at home this year with all five of those matches coming against a conference opponent. However, the Eagles kept things relatively close in all five of those matches, losing seven different sets by three points or less. Sacramento State is 30-13 all-time against Eastern Washington, including a 10-9 record when playing in Cheney. Three of those wins in Cheney came in back-to-back-to-back years in the Big Sky Tournament championship match (2002-04). The Hornets swept the Eagles in Sacramento earlier this year by scores of 25-18, 28-26, 25-18.
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 Portland State
Saturday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m.
Stott Center - Portland, Ore.
Coverage: Live Stats, Live Video
Series Record: Sacramento State Leads, 36-19
Last Meeting: L, 3-2, in Sacramento - Sept. 15, 2012
Sacramento State at Eastern Washington
Monday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m.
Reese Court - Cheney, Wash.
Coverage: Live Stats, Live Video
Series Record: Sacramento State Leads, 30-13
Last Meeting: W, 3-0, in Sacramento - Sept. 13, 2012
- Although the Hornets' record on the road is just 2-7 this season, that mark isn't nearly as bad as it seems. In five of the team's seven losses, Sacramento State won at least one set. In addition, the team has dropped eight sets on the road by three points or less.
- Sacramento State remains second in the nation with an average of 3.14 blocks per set, and the team has three players ranking among the country's top 130 in that category. Middle blocker is 11th (1.48 per set), middle blocker is 49th (1.26 per set) and rightside hitter is 126th (1.09 per set). Those three players rank first, third and sixth, respectively, in the Big Sky. The Hornets have outblocked their opponent in all but six matches this year, and have recorded at least 10.0 team blocks on 15 occasions. That includes 21.0 team blocks against Weber State, which tied for the seventh best mark in school history.
- Senior outside hitter made her return from a lower leg injury last week and responded by combining for 28 kills against Montana (16) and Montana State (12). The team co-captain had missed seven straight matches prior to returning against Montana (she did not play Tuesday against Santa Clara to get extra rest for the leg). Genger leads the team with 3.40 kills per set, and the Hornets run a more efficient offense when she plays. In the 12 matches in which she has appeared, the Hornets are hitting .188 with 12.41 kills per set. In the eight matches she has missed, the Hornets are hitting just .118 with an average of 10.78 kills per set.
- Sophomore rightside hitter injured her knee in the second set against Montana on Friday, and will miss the remainder of the season. Mansfield has averages of 1.26 kills and 0.54 blocks per set.
- Sacramento State has played in 27 different sets that were decided by three points or less. Over 35 percent of the team's 76 sets have resulted in two or three-point outcomes. The team is 11-16 in those 27 sets.
- Eleven of the squad's 15 players have started at least one match this season. Outside hitter , rightside hitter and middle blocker are the only players to start every match thus far. has started every match at libero as well, but the NCAA does not recognize the libero as a starting position.
- Outside hitter has now started each of the Hornets' last 116 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 1,541 digs. In addition, her 1,305 kills now rank 10th in school history. She is already one of just 11 Hornets since 1985 to join the 1,000 kills/1,000 digs club.
- Entering the week, Sacramento State was tied with Portland State for the Big Sky lead at 1.47 aces per set, a mark which ranked 43rd in the nation. However, the team was limited to just one ace on Tuesday at Santa Clara, dropping the team's average to 1.42 aces per set.
- The Hornets' 15.75 digs per set against conference competition is the third best mark in the Big Sky. ranks first with an average of 0.45 aces per set against league foes, and third with 5.10 digs per set.
- The Hornets are hitting .210 at home compared to just a .116 mark on the road.
- Over her last eight matches, middle blocker is averaging 1.41 kills and 1.59 blocks per set while hitting a team-best .320 during that span. Her career-high 13 blocks against Weber State were tied for the third best mark in Hornet single-match history.
- Setter has started the last two matches at setter, and combined for 61 assists during that stretch. It marked just the third and fourth matches she has started at the position all season. has started the other 16 matches at setter.
- Rightside hitter had her streak of 10 straight matches with at least nine kills come to a close Tuesday when she had four at Santa Clara.
- Libero has posted double figures in digs in all but one match, and has a stretch of 17 consecutive matches with double digits in digs. She also had a stretch of five straight matches with at least two aces prior to going aceless against Santa Clara.