VOLLEYBALL TRAVELS TO MONTANA FOR A PAIR OF MATCHES

VOLLEYBALL TRAVELS TO MONTANA FOR A PAIR OF MATCHES

Sacramento State Game Notes (22 pages) - pdf
Big Sky Conference standings

The Week Ahead
    Sacramento State (5-18, 0-8) will play twice this week and five of its next six matches on the road. The Hornets, who are seeking their first conference win, travel to Montana State on Friday and Montana on Saturday. Both matches will begin at 6 p.m. PDT.
    At the midway point of the conference season, this week's matchups will mark the only time that Sacramento State will take on both Montana and Montana State this year. With the addition of Idaho to the conference this season, the Big Sky split into a pair of divisions - the North and South. The Hornets reside in the South and play each team in that division twice, and will play just once against the six teams from the North Division - Montana, Montana State, Eastern Washington, Idaho, North Dakota and Northern Colorado.
    Sacramento State has played just one road match during the entire month of October as five of the team's previous six matches have come at Colberg Court. The Hornets are 5-9 away from home, including 1-6 on an opponent's home floor and 4-3 at neutral sites. Sacramento State has already taken on Southern Utah, Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado on the road.
    The top eight squads in the 12-team Big Sky, regardless of division, will qualify for the league's postseason event. The Hornets are four games back of Eastern Washington, Southern Utah and Portland State who are each 4-4 and hold down the final three spots for the tournament if the season ended today. The tournament host and No. 1 seed will go to the team with the best conference record while the No. 2 seed will be the first-place team from the other division.  

Multimedia Options
Like every match the rest of the season, fans will be able to watch a free live video stream on both Friday 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
    This week, Sacramento State will play a pair of teams that have combined for a 7-33 overall record thus far. Up first is Montana State, which will enter Friday's matchup with a 4-16 overall record and 1-7 mark in the Big Sky. Amazingly, the Bobcats have played just three home matches all season, and lost those matchups to Montana, Northern Colorado and North Dakota. The Hornets have dominated the series with Montana State over the years, winning 40 of the 46 meetings between the two programs. Sacramento State has won seven straight, and 20 of the last 21 matchups against the Bobcats, including three straight wins when the two teams play in Bozeman.
    Montana, which hosts Portland State on Friday, enters the week with a 3-17 overall record and a 3-5 conference mark. The Grizzlies, who played one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the Big Sky, have dropped five of their last six matches after being swept by both Idaho and Eastern Washington last week on the road. Like Montana State, Montana is also winless at home (0-7), and just completed a four-match road trip. The Hornets are 27-12 all-time against Montana, but the Grizzlies have won eight of the last 11 meetings between the two teams. That includes six straight wins in Missoula. The last time the Hornets beat Montana in Missoula came in 2007.

Kissell Makes Her Debut
Sacramento State junior outside hitter Lauren Kissell made her Hornet debut on Saturday against Portland State, and responded with a team-high nine kills. A first team all-state selection last year at San Joaquin Delta College, Kissell shook off the rust to also finish with five digs and a solo block. Last year at Delta, the six-foot Kissell finished second in the state in kills (462), and third in both kills per set (5.13) and hitting percentage (.350). She was in the starting lineup on Saturday against Portland State and will likely remain there the remainder of the season.    

Youth Is Most Definitely Served
Amazingly, when Lauren Kissell made her debut on Saturday, it marked just the third upperclassman that has appeared in a match this season for Sacramento State. That's because the Hornets have just three upperclassmen on the entire roster (juniors Sloan Lovett and Lauren Aikels are the others), and zero seniors. In fact, of the 16 players on Sacramento State's roster, 10 are new to the program, including a school-record eight freshmen. Moreover, 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.

First Set Blues
The Hornets need to do a better job of starting matches as the team has lost the first set in 19 of 23 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 this year's 19 first sets lost, the Hornets are being outscored by an average of 5.4 points.

Skalbeck Back At Libero, And Playing Well
After playing at defensive specialist in seven straight matches from Sept. 20 until Oct. 9, sophomore Lexie Skalbeck was moved back to the starting libero spot on Oct. 11 against Idaho. Over that three-match span, the Portland, Ore., native is averaging better than five digs per set (5.11), and despite each of those matches lasting just three sets, she has totalled 16, 14 and 16 digs, respectively. Skalbeck began the year as the team's libero before freshman Brigitte Murdock assumed the role for a three-week span.

Hornet Notables
Sacramento State has combined to hit .202 over its last four matches, after a span in which the team failed to hit better than .163 in nine straight matches. Unfortunately, during that four-match span, the opposition has combined to hit .287…Morgan Stanley has at least eight kills and seven digs in five straight matches after doing so, mainly because of injury, twice in her first 16 matches…Sloan Lovett had five kills vs. Portland State, snapping a streak of five straight matches with double-figure kills.