VOLLEYBALL HOSTS NORTH DAKOTA ON THURSDAY, AT PORTLAND ST. ON SATURDAY

VOLLEYBALL HOSTS NORTH DAKOTA ON THURSDAY, AT PORTLAND ST. ON SATURDAY

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

The Week Ahead

    Sacramento State (6-19, 1-9) will play twice this week, including a home match on Thursday and a road contest on Saturday. The Hornets will host North Dakota on Thursday at 7 p.m. before traveling north to face Portland State on Saturday at noon. Thursday's matchup is the first of three home contests the Hornets have remaining on the schedule.
    The Hornets were able to secure their first conference victory last week, a three-set sweep at Montana State on Friday in a match which lasted less than 90 minutes. The very next day, Sacramento State nearly forced a fifth set at Montana as the Hornets dropped the fourth set to the Grizzlies by a 25-23 score.
    Thursday will mark the only time that Sacramento State will face North Dakota, and the Hornets will be playing Portland State for the second time in 15 days.
    The top eight squads in the 12-team Big Sky qualify for the league's postseason event (Nov. 20-22) and the Hornets are dangerously close to being eliminated from contention. With just six matches remaining on the regular season schedule, Sacramento State is four games behind the teams that currently hold the last three spots in Portland State, Eastern Washington and Montana.
    After the North Dakota match on Thursday, the Hornets' final five contests will come against the other teams in the South Division with Sacramento State. The Hornets will be playing each of those squads for the second time this year - Idaho State, Northern Arizona, Portland State, Southern Utah and Weber State.
    
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

    North Dakota will enter Thursday's match with a 19-8 overall record, a 7-3 mark in the conference, and is currently in a three-way tie for first place in the Big Sky's North Division. UND, however, has lost three of its last five matches, including recent 3-0 losses to Northern Colorado (road) and Northern Arizona (home). North Dakota has ownership of the Hornets since joining the Big Sky in 2012 as UND has won all four of the matchups between the two schools during that span. Sacramento State's only victory in the all-time series (1-4) came in 1988 during the Hornets' Div. II era. The last two meetings in Sacramento have resulted in 3-1 UND victories.
    Portland State, which hosts Northern Colorado on Thursday, enters the week with a 7-15 overall record and 5-5 conference mark. The Vikings swept the Hornets in Sacramento on Oct. 18 by a 25-22, 25-19, 25-22 score. PSU has played just five matches at home this season, and is 3-2 overall, and 3-1 in league play. The Hornets are 37-22 all-time against the Vikings, but have dropped each of the last six meetings when playing in Portland. The last time Sacramento State won on PSU's home floor came in a five-set affair on Oct. 17, 2008 (17-15 in the fifth set).     

One Win Away From 500 Div. I Victories

Sacramento State is just one win shy of its 500th win since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991. The Hornets are 499-298 (.626 winning percentage) in Div. I play, and 919-416 (.688) 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.

Looking To Secure First Home Win

Sacramento State is currently 0-9 at home, including an 0-5 mark against Big Sky opponents. The Hornets have been close, as evidence by five-set losses on a number of occasions. Still, Sacramento State is 191-67 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.

Youth On Display

Amazingly, when Lauren Kissell made her Hornet debut three matches ago, 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.

Stanley Makes Adjustment, Continues To Play Well

Over the last seven matches, sophomore Morgan Stanley has played her best volleyball of the season. During that seven-match span, she is averaging 3.42 kills, 2.69 digs, 0.50 aces and 0.69 blocks per set while posting four double-doubles. Mostly due to a nagging abdominal injury, she had just two double-doubles during her first 17 matches of the season. Perhaps most impressive about her current run is she has played the last three matches on the right side for the first time in her Hornet career. Junior Lauren Kissell made her Hornet debut three matches ago and shares the two primary outside hitter spots with team co-captain Sloan Lovett, shifting Stanley to the right side.

Hornet Notables

Over the last six matches, sophomore middle Madeline Cannon is hitting a team-high .327 with averages of 2.38 kills and 0.86 blocks per set…sophomore libero Lexie Skalbeck has at least 14 digs in five of the last six matches, and is averaging 3.95 digs per set over that span…junior outside hitter Sloan Lovett had started each of last 51 matches she appeared until coming off the bench in matches at Montana State and Montana last week.