Sacramento State Game Notes (20 pages) - pdf

The Week Ahead

    After posting a 2-1 record and second-place finish at last weekend's Cal Poly ShareSLO Tournament, Sacramento State (4-7 overall) returns to action for four matches this week. One of those matchups takes place Tuesday against rival UC Davis in what will be the Hornets' final home match in September. In fact, the Hornets will not play again at Colberg Court until their Big Sky Conference home opener against Idaho State on Oct. 2.
    Sacramento State will also travel to Indiana where the team will play in the two-day, four-team Valparaiso Crossroads of America Classic. As part of tournament play, the Hornets will take on George Washington on Friday at 2:30 p.m. PDT before facing host Valparaiso (10:30 a.m. PDT) and Murray State (2:30 p.m. PDT) on Saturday. All matches will take place at the Athletics-Recreation Center (ARC) on the Valparaiso campus.
Multimedia Options
Like every home match this season, fans will be able to watch a free live HD video stream of Tuesday's match against UC Davis via WatchBigSky.com. Users just need to sign up for a free account through the website and video for all of the Hornets' home matches, and road matches held in a Big Sky venue are free. Links for all multimedia options (video, audio, live stats) can also be accessed on the volleyball schedule at www.hornetsports.com. Valparaiso is offering live stats of every match on Friday and Saturday and free live video will be offered for the Hornets' match against Valpo on Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. PDT.

A Look At This Week's Opponents
    UC Davis will enter Tuesday's matchup with a 3-6 record after going 1-2 at last week's Washington/Seattle Tournament. The Hornets and Aggies resume their long-standing rivalry as the teams will be facing one another for the 71st time. The Hornets own a 50-20 record, and a 22-7 mark when playing in Sacramento. However, the Aggies have won the last three matches in the series with the Hornets' latest win coming in five sets on the road in 2010.
    George Washington enters the week with a 6-3 record, but has lost its last two matches after beginning the year 6-1. In the teams' only meeting, the Hornets defeated the Colonials, 3-0, on Sept. 13, 1991 at a tournament in San Diego. That season also happened to be Sacramento State's first on the Div. I level. Valparaiso enters the week with an eight-game winning streak and a 9-1 record. Each of the team's last four wins have come via three-set sweep. Saturday's meeting will mark the first time the Hornets have ever faced the Crusaders. Murray State will enter the tournament with a 9-0 record with six of those victories coming via three-set sweeps. The Hornets and Racers have faced each other once, a 3-1 Sacramento State victory on Aug. 27, 2011, at a tournament hosted by Belmont in Nashville, Tenn. The three opponents the Hornets will face in tournament play enter the week with a combined record of 24-4.  

500th Div. I Victory Within Reach
Sacramento State is just three wins shy of its 500th win since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991. The Hornets are 497-286 (.635 winning percentage) in Div. I play, and 917-404 (.694) overall. Arguably the most storied program in Sacramento State athletics history, the volleyball team has accounted for two national championships, 20 NCAA Tournament appearances, 27 All-Americans, 18 conference championships and 10 NCAA Div. I Tournament appearances. That includes a streak of 11 straight Big Sky titles from 1997-07.

Injuries Piling Up
Unfortunately for the Hornets, the injury bug reared its ugly head and bit two of the team's top players. Outside hitters Sloan Lovett and Morgan Stanley, who combined to form one of the top duos in the Big Sky Conference last year, have both been affected. Normally a full rotation outside hitter, Stanley sat out the Nevada match and was limited to playing just the back row in all three tournament matches last weekend because of injury. Then, midway through the first set of Saturday's match at Cal Poly, Lovett, who is this year's team captain, turned an ankle and did not return to the match because of the injury. Lovett is questionable to play this week, and Stanley is questionable to return to her six-rotation position.

As Young As A Roster Could Get
Of the 16 players on Sacramento State's roster, 10 are new to the program, including a school-record eight freshmen. Moreover, the roster includes no seniors, and of the squad's 16 players, only three are upperclassmen in junior outside hitters Lauren Aikels, Lauren Kissell and team captain Sloan Lovett. The six returning players are comprised of two juniors and four sophomores. In fact, on a number of occasions this year, the Hornets have used a lineup consisting of all underclassmen.

Big Improvements in Three Areas
Sacramento State went 2-1 at Cal Poly's tournament over the weekend, and during that three-match stretch, made big improvements on defense and on the service line. During the first eight matches of the season, Sacramento State was averaging just 1.48 blocks, 12.55 digs and 1.38 aces per set. However, over the last three matches, those numbers spiked to 3.08 blocks, 13.50 digs and 2.17 aces. After finding itself at or near the bottom of the Big Sky Conference statistically in those three categories, the team moved all the way up to third in aces, and seventh in both digs and blocks among the league's 12 institutions.