VOLLEYBALL CONCLUDES HOMESTAND THURSDAY AND SATURDAY

VOLLEYBALL CONCLUDES HOMESTAND THURSDAY AND SATURDAY

Sacramento State Game Notes (21 pages) - pdf
Big Sky Conference Standings

The Week Ahead

    Sacramento State (5-14, 0-4) will resume its season-long four-match homestand this week with matchups on Thursday against Eastern Washington and Saturday vs. Idaho. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m.
    The Hornets will look to snap a four-match losing streak and avoid dropping their first five Big Sky Conference matches for the first time in program history. In fact, the team had never lost more than two conference matches to start a season prior to this year. Sacramento State could just as easily be 2-2 as the team had a combined four match points in the contests at Southern Utah and Weber State, but could not convert. That included three match points against Southern Utah and a match point at 14-13 of the fifth set vs. Weber State.
    At 0-4 in league, this week's matches are likely the most important of the season if Sacramento State wants to legitimately challenge for a Big Sky Tournament spot at year's end. The top eight squads in the 12-team Big Sky, regardless of division, will qualify for the league's postseason event and the Hornets can ill-afford to fall too far back in the standings.
    Sacramento State is still looking to secure its first home win (0-6). This is a program that has combined to post a 191-64 record at home since 1996, and has just one sub-.500 home record in school history (7-10 in 2009). Among the team's six home losses this year include five-set defeats at the hands of Fresno State, UC Davis and Weber State. In addition, the Hornets lost to Idaho State in four sets last week, a close match that Sacramento State could have won.

Multimedia Options
Like every match the rest of the season, fans will be able to watch a free live video stream on both Thursday and Saturday via WatchBigSky.com. All home matches will be streamed in HD, but most road matches will be streamed in SD. Users just need to sign up for a free account through the website and video the remainder of the season is free. Links for all multimedia options (video, audio, live stats) can be accessed on the volleyball schedule at www.hornetsports.com.

A Look At This Week's Opponents
     Arguably the Hornets' biggest rival in the Big Sky over the years, Eastern Washington will enter Thursday's match with a 5-12 overall record and 1-3 mark in the Big Sky. Since joining the Big Sky in 1996, Sacramento State has faced Eastern Washington in the conference tournament championship match eight times with the Hornets posting a 7-1 record in those meetings. This season, the Eagles are 3-3 on the road, including a five-set win (18-16) at Northern Colorado two weeks ago. Sacramento State is 31-15 all-time against the Eagles, including a 21-4 mark when playing in Sacramento. The Hornets have not lost to EWU at home since the 2009 season.
    Idaho will make its first-ever trip to Colberg Court to face the Hornets on Thursday. Newcomers to the Big Sky this season, Idaho enters the week with a 7-9 overall record and 3-1 conference mark, including sweeps of both Northern Arizona (at home) and Eastern Washington (on the road) last week. The Hornets and Vandals have faced each other three times over the years, and each matchup came on a neutral floor. Sacramento State leads the series, 2-1, but Idaho defeated the Hornets (3-1) last year at a tournament in Boise, Idaho.    

First Set Blues
The Hornets need to do a better job of starting matches as the team has lost the first set in 16 of 19 matches this year. Of the team's five victories this season, four have come after dropping the first set. By comparison, Sacramento State won four matches all of last season after losing the first set. In those 16 first sets lost, the Hornets are being outscored by an average of 5.8 points.

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.

Joining The Double Figure Ace Club
In Saturday's match against Weber State, sophomore outside hitter Morgan Stanley recorded an extremely rare feat in the sport of volleyball....10 aces. In fact, its so rare that no player in school history had ever recorded more than seven aces in a match prior to Saturday. In addition, the 10 aces tied for the second best mark in Big Sky Conference history, and tied for the 20th best mark in NCAA Div. I history (for a five-set match). At the end of the third set, Stanley served aces on five straight and six of the last seven points of the frame.

Lovett Making A Mark
Junior outside hitter and team captain Sloan Lovett is averaging 3.76 kills per set against Big Sky competition, the second best mark in the league. She has posted at least nine kills in all four conference matches, including a career-best 27 at Southern Utah. Lovett also added 17 kills against Idaho State and 11 kills vs. Weber State last week. Overall, Lovett is averaging 3.24 kills per set, which is nearly identical to last season's output of 3.25 kps. How important is Lovett's production to the team? The Hornets are 5-6 when she produces double figures in kills, and 0-6 when she finished with nine or less. Lovett missed two matches earlier this year with an ankle injury.

Hornet Notables
The Hornets are limiting the opposition to a .200 hitting percentage, the fifth best mark in the Big Sky. Four of the team's last six opponents have hit .174 or less…Sacramento State's 14 aces on Saturday against Weber State were tied for the second highest single-match total in school history and helped the Hornets boost to fourth in the league in aces per set (1.45)…Morgan Stanley accounted for 35 points against Weber State, the most by a Hornet in a match since Missie Stidham recorded 36.5 points at Portland State on Nov. 17, 2007…Sacramento State has already played 21 sets that have been decided by two points, and are 7-14 on those occasions.