The Sacramento State volleyball squad (9-17, 5-11) gets set for its final regular season road trip of the season this week when the team travels to Idaho State on Friday, and Weber State on Saturday. Both matches will begin at 6 p.m. PST.
With just four games remaining in the regular season, the Hornets have their work cut out if they want to qualify for the Big Sky Tournament for the 14th time since joining the league in 1996. The conference's postseason tournament, which will take place in Greeley, Colo., on Nov. 23-24, will feature the Big Sky's top six teams squaring off for the tournament championship and subsequent automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Sacramento State is currently tied for seventh place with Southern Utah, three games behind both Montana State and North Dakota, who hold down the last two spots with 8-8 records. That leaves the Hornets little wiggle room for error as they are three games behind a potential playoff spot with four games left. Sacramento State will have to win at least three of its final four matches and hope for help from other teams in defeating either Montana State and/or North Dakota.
Below are the remaining schedules for all four teams battling for the final two playoff spots, and some potential tiebreaking scenarios.
Montana State - vs. Southern Utah, vs. Northern Arizona, at Sacramento State, at Montana
North Dakota - vs. Portland State, vs. Eastern Washington, at Northern Arizona, at Southern Utah
Sacramento State - at Idaho State, at Weber State, vs. Montana State, vs. Montana
Southern Utah - at Montana State, at Montana, vs. Northern Colorado, vs. North Dakota
POTENTIAL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS
There are still a number of scenarios that would get Sacramento State into the Big Sky Tournament, and below are the easiest to understand.
1. Sacramento State goes 4-0 and Montana State finishes 1-3, while Southern Utah loses at least one of their final matches and North Dakota wins at least two of their final matches.
2. Sacramento State goes 4-0 and North Dakota finishes 0-4, while Southern Utah loses at least once more, and Montana State wins at least twice more.
3. Sacramento State goes 3-1 and Montana State goes 0-4, while Southern Utah loses at least once more and North Dakota wins at least once more.
4. Should Sacramento State, North Dakota and Montana State finish with identical conference records, the Hornets would have to beat Montana State by a 3-0 or 3-1 score to have a chance at qualifying.
5. Should all four teams finish with a 9-11 record, each of the four squads would be 3-3 against one another meaning the tiebreaker would boil down to the differential of sets won among those matches.
6. The Hornets are eliminated from Big Sky Tournament contention if they finish the regular season with two wins or less.
Despite all this dizzying tiebreaker stuff, the bottom line is Sacramento State needs to take care of business beginning this week. The Hornets recently completed their season-long four-game homestand with a 2-2 record. Things were looking good after the team began the homestand two weeks ago by clobbering Southern Utah and defeating Northern Arizona in five sets. However, the Hornets dropped both home matches last week to Northern Colorado (3-2) and North Dakota (3-1). Sacramento State won the first two sets against Northern Colorado but dropped the final three sets, and fell in four to North Dakota two days later.
The Hornets carry a 2-9 road record into the week, which does include a win over Montana State in Bozeman on Oct. 13. On Friday, Sacramento State will face an Idaho State team that is 21-5 overall, sits in first place in the league standings with a 15-2 league record, and has won 11 of its last 12 contests. That includes a road win at Weber State on Wednesday night. However, the Hornets did take Idaho State to five sets in Sacramento earlier this year before losing, 15-9, in the fifth. Sacramento State does have history on its side as it holds a commanding 27-7 record in the all-time series against Idaho State. That includes a 12-4 record when the teams square off in Pocatello. Last season, the Hornets posted a dramatic five-set win in Pocatello as a service ace on match point gave the team a 15-13 win in the fifth.
Weber State will enter Saturday's match with a 10-19 overall record and a 3-14 league mark. The Wildcats sit in last place in the conference standings, but have won two of their last four matches. The Hornets defeated Weber State, 3-1, on Oct. 6 in Sacramento. Saturday will mark the final leg of a five-game homestand for the Wildcats and will also be the team's Senior Night. Sacramento State owns a 28-8 record against Weber State in a series which dates back to 1991 when the Hornets joined the Div. I ranks. That includes three straight wins in Ogden, and an 11-4 mark when playing the Wildcats on their home floor.
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.
THIS WEEK'S MATCHUPS
Sacramento State at Idaho State
Friday, Nov. 9, at 6 p.m. PST
Reed Gym - Pocatello, Idaho
Coverage: Live Stats, Live Video
Series Record: Sacramento State Leads, 27-7
Last Meeting: L, 3-2, in Sacramento - Oct. 5, 2012
Sacramento State at Weber State
Saturday, Nov. 10, at 6 p.m. PST
Swenson Gym - Ogden, Utah
Coverage: Live Stats, Live Video
Series Record: Sacramento State Leads, 28-8
Last Meeting: W, 3-1, in Sacramento - Oct. 6, 2012