Complete set of game notes (18 pages) - pdf
The Week Ahead
Sacramento State (5-8, 0-2) will open up the home portion of its Big Sky Conference schedule later this week when the team plays on back-to-back nights at Colberg Court. The Hornets will take on Northern Arizona on Friday at 7 p.m., followed by a matchup with Southern Utah on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Hornets have dropped seven straight matches, but six of those losses came away from the home floor. That includes defeats last week to open the Big Sky season at Eastern Washington (3-2) and Portland State (3-0). Traditionally, the Hornets have played Big Sky teams very well on the home floor as the program has posted a 112-21 mark against conference teams at Colberg Court since joining the Big Sky in 1996.
The team's current losing streak, which can be attributed, in part, to youth and injuries, comes after the Hornets opened the season with a 4-1 record. Sacramento State is currently starting a freshman and sophomore at outside hitter, and one or two freshmen at middle blocker.
Northern Arizona (8-3, 2-0) currently sits atop the Big Sky standings with North Dakota. The Lumberjacks, who are under the guidance of first-year head coach Ken Murphy, opened the conference season last week with home wins over Idaho State and Weber State. The Hornets are 30-11 all-time against the Lumberjacks, including an 18-1 mark when playing in Sacramento.
Southern Utah (2-10, 1-1) split a pair of home matches against conference foes Weber State (W, 3-1) and Idaho State (L, 3-0) last week. The Thunderbirds are 1-8 away from home this season with the lone win coming at Omaha. Southern Utah, which is in its second year in the Big Sky, faced the Hornets for the first two times last year with both teams winning on their home floor.
Like every match the remainder of the season, both Friday and Saturday night's contests can be viewed live and free on www.WatchBigSky.com. Viewers just need to create a user name and password through the website, and tune in about 5-10 minutes before the match begins. Andrew Tomsky will provide the play-by-play of both matches. Fans that are interested in listening to just the audio of the match can click here. Like every home match, live stats will be offered through Sacramento State's website by clicking here.
Lovett Among Conference Leaders
Thus far, sophomore outside hitter Sloan Lovett has not only established herself as one of the top attackers on the Hornets, but one of the top attacking outside hitters in the Big Sky Conference. This comes one year after she finished her freshman season with averages of 1.25 kills and 0.51 digs while hitting just .059. Now, she is one of two Sacramento State players to start every match thus far, and ranks among Big Sky leaders in aces (1st, 0.38 per set), points (3rd, 3.76 per set) and kills (4th, 3.23 per set). Lovett has posted double figures in kills in all but four matches, and has tallied at least 14 kills on five occasions.
Serving Up Aces
As usual, Sacramento State has dished out its fair share of aces this season. Each of the last four years, the Hornets have finished either first or second in the Big Sky in aces, and the team currently leads the league again. Sacramento State is averaging 1.54 aces per set, which includes a season-high 12 two weeks ago against Idaho. The team has six different players that have accumulated at least six aces, including conference leader Sloan Lovett (18 aces, 0.38 per set) and Lexie Skalbeck who is fourth in the league with 15 aces, and 0.33 per set.
The Hornets have dropped seven straight matches, and when looking at some numbers, its easy to see why. During the losing streak, the Hornets are hitting just .156 while the opposition is hitting .276. Sacramento State is averaging less than 10 kills per set (9.69) and has combined for just 38 blocks over the seven matches. The team has been aced 56 times, and has averaged 12.96 digs per set, well below their season average of 14.12.
Hitting For A High Percentage
Sacramento State's hitting percentage of .224 is the second best mark in the Big Sky despite hitting below .200 in five straight matches. Four of the Hornets' usual starters are hitting above .220, including rightside hitter Kayla Beal ranking seventh in the league with a .270 percentage. In comparison, last year's .177 hitting percentage ranked ahead of just three teams in the Big Sky.
Youth Is Served
Sacramento State has started six underclassmen this year, including four freshmen and two sophomore. The team has consistently started freshman Morgan Stanley and sophomore Sloan Lovett at outside hitter, a freshman has started at middle blocker in all 13 matches (Courtney Dietrich or Kendall LaVine), and freshman Lexie Skalbeck has started a pair of matches at libero/defensive specialist. In addition, sophomore Lauren Aikels has three starts at rightside hitter.
The Hornets will be looking to avoid starting 0-3 in conference play for the first time since joining the Big Sky in 1996…Sacramento State is 5-0 when hitting better than .220, and 0-8 when hitting .220 or below…setter Hannah Hettinga and outside hitter Sloan Lovett are the only two Hornets to start all 13 matches this year…the Hornets' average of 1.54 aces per set is the 52nd best mark in the nation (among 334 Div. I teams)…after missing three matches with a back injury, rightside hitter Kayla Beal returned to the lineup last week and averaged 2.75 kills and 0.88 blocks per set while hitting .267 over two matches…freshman middle Courtney Dietrich started both matches last week and averaged 1.25 kills and 0.75 blocks per set with a .333 hitting percentage…of the 11 players on the roster that have played in a match this year, only one (defensive specialist Katelyn Ivy) has yet to start at least one match…this week begins a four-match homestand and a stretch that will see Sacramento State play eight of its next 10 matches at home.