VOLLEYBALL PLAYS TWICE THIS WEEK; HOME MATCH ON SATURDAY AFTERNOON

VOLLEYBALL PLAYS TWICE THIS WEEK; HOME MATCH ON SATURDAY AFTERNOON

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

The Week Ahead
    Sacramento State (5-16, 0-6) embarks upon a rare week that will see the team play two Big Sky Conference matches, with one taking place on the road and one at home. The Hornets travel to Northern Colorado on Thursday for a 6 p.m. PDT matchup before returning home for a Saturday afternoon (1 p.m.) tilt against Portland State.
    This week will mark the first of two home/road splits the Hornets will play in the same week. Later this year, Sacramento State will take on North Dakota at home on Oct. 30, and play two days later at Portland State.
    On Thursday, the Hornets will look to snap a season-long six-match losing streak as the team also searches for its first Big Sky victory. Sacramento State has been close to securing a conference win, but has struggled in five-set matches against league opposition going 0-3 in five-set affairs. In addition, the Hornets had match points against Southern Utah (3) and Weber State (1), but could not come up with the victory.
    Thursday will mark the first time the Hornets have played on the road this month as the team just completed a four-match homestand on Saturday. Away from Colberg Court, Sacramento State is 5-8 this season, including 1-5 when playing on an opponent's home floor.
    The top eight squads in the 12-team Big Sky, regardless of division, will qualify for the league's postseason event. The Hornets, though 0-6 in league, are just three games back of a potential spot as there are four Big Sky teams currently with 3-3 records.

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
    Northern Colorado will enter Thursday's matchup with a 10-8 overall record and 3-3 conference mark. The Bears recently completed a four-match road trip with a 3-1 record, including wins at Montana State, Montana and Idaho State. The Bears lead the all-time series, 12-9, over the Hornets, including a 7-1 record in Greeley. Sacramento State has dropped seven straight matches in Greeley with the team's lone win on Northern Colorado's home floor coming in 2006.
    Portland State brings a 5-13 overall record and 3-3 Big Sky mark into the week. The Vikings have yet to win a road match this season (0-6) and are 0-2 against Big Sky teams on the road. Portland State has won two straight and three of the last four matches after beginning the season 2-12. One of the Hornets' longest standing rivalries against any team, the Hornets and Vikings have faced each other 58 times dating back to 1979. In that time, the Hornets are 37-21 against PSU, including an 18-3 mark in Sacramento.    

First Set Blues
The Hornets need to do a better job of starting matches as the team has lost the first set in 17 of 21 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.

Looking For The First Home Win
Sacramento State is currently 0-8 at home, including an 0-4 mark against Big Sky opponents. The Hornets have been close, as evidence by five-set losses on four occasions. Still, Sacramento State is 191-66 at home since joining the Big Sky Conference in 1996. That includes a 59-match regular season home winning streak against conference teams that lasted from 1999 until 2007.

The Lovett-Stanley Connection
Over the last three matches, the outside hitter tandem of junior Sloan Lovett and sophomore Morgan Stanley have shown glimpses of what made the duo one of the better outside hitter combinations in the league last year. Due to nagging injuries that have affected both players a good portion of the season, the numbers haven't been quite as good. However, during the last three matches, Stanley and Lovett have combined to average 6.62 kills and 1.08 aces per set. That includes Stanley totalling 22 kills vs. Weber State and 19 against Eastern Washington. Lovett has now posted double figures in kills in four straight and 10 of the last 12 matches.

Hornet Notables
Over the last three matches, middle blockers Madeline Cannon (.356) and Courtney Dietrich (.333) have combined to hit .346…freshman setter Kennedy Kurtz's percentage of assists compared to total sets has increased each of the last four matches, culminating in 41 percent of her sets resulting in kills against Idaho…freshman middle blocker Lana Brown is currently out with a fractured finger, and could take a medical redshirt if the injury persists…after playing three consecutive matches at DS, sophomore Lexie Skalbeck moved back to libero against Idaho on Saturday…Sacramento State had been 4-0 when hitting above .200 until dropping matches against Eastern Washington (.253) and Idaho (.235) last week…Sacramento State is two wins shy of its 500th victory since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991 (498-295)…the Hornets' brand new sport court made its debut two weeks ago against Idaho State…sophomore rightside hitter Kendall LaVine is hitting .412 (10-3-17) over her last two matches.