VOLLEYBALL GETS SET FOR FINAL REGULAR SEASON ROAD TRIP

VOLLEYBALL GETS SET FOR FINAL REGULAR SEASON ROAD TRIP

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

The Week Ahead

    Sacramento State (7-20, 2-10) will play its final two road matches of the regular season this week. The Hornets travel to Weber State on Thursday, and Idaho State on Saturday with both matches beginning at 6 p.m. PST.
    Despite the overall and conference records, the Hornets have been playing better over the last two weeks as the team has split its last four matches. That includes a three-set road sweep of Montana State, and perhaps the team's most impressive victory of the season - a 3-2 win at Portland State on Saturday. The Hornets hadn't beaten the Vikings in Portland since the 2008 season, and they had to overcome a 13-10 deficit in the fifth set to rally for a 16-14 fifth-set win.
    The two losses over the last two weeks came in extremely close fashion as Sacramento State fell by just two points in the fourth sets at Montana (25-23) and at home vs. North Dakota (28-26).
    With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Hornets will need to win their last four matches of the year and hope for help from other teams in the conference to make a run at a berth in the Big Sky Tournament. The top eight teams in the 12-member league qualify for the league's postseason event, and Sacramento State finds itself three games back of a potential spot. Southern Utah, Portland State and Eastern Washington are in a tie for seventh place in the standings with 5-7 records.
    
Multimedia Options

Like every match the remainder of the regular season and postseason, fans can watch a free live video stream of 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 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

    Weber State will enter Thursday's match with a 6-21 overall record and a 2-10 conference mark. The Wildcats have struggled of late, losing seven straight matches over the last three weeks. However, five of those losses have come on the road as Weber will be playing at home for the first time since Oct. 17. The Hornets lost to Weber State at home earlier this season in five sets, including 16-14 in the fifth. In that match, the Hornets had a match point at 14-13 in the fifth set before the Wildcats won the final three points. Still, the Hornets are 31-9 all-time against the Wildcats, including five straight wins in Ogden. The loss to Weber earlier this year snapped an eight-match overall winning streak against the Wildcats.
    At 17-8 overall and 11-1 in the Big Sky, Idaho State has been the best team in the league all year. The Bengals, who host Portland State on Thursday night, have won seven straight and recently completed a four-match road trip with a perfect 4-0 record. In fact, Idaho State is two games better than any other team in the conference and controls its own destiny at securing the No. 1 seed for the Big Sky Tournament. The Hornets lost to the Bengals at home earlier this year in four sets, and have dropped six straight meetings in the series dating back to 2011. Sacramento State is 27-11 all-time against Idaho State, including a 12-6 mark when playing in Pocatello.     

Snapping The Five-Set Slump

Prior to Sacramento State's nail-biting victory at Portland State on Saturday, Sacramento State had been 1-5 in five-set matches this year, and had dropped four straight five-set outcomes. The Hornets snapped the slide in a big way against the Vikings, erasing a 13-10 deficit by closing the fifth set on a 6-1 run to not only secure a much-needed win, but also beat a tough Viking squad on its home floor. Each of the team's last four fifth sets have been decided by three points or less, with the three losses during that span each coming to Big Sky opposition.

Hornets Secure 500th Div. I Victory

The win at Portland State on Saturday also allowed Sacramento State to secure its 500th win since joining the Div. I ranks prior to the 1991 season. The Hornets are 500-299 during the program's Div. I era, good a for a robust .626 winning percentage. 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. In fact, Sacramento State is trying to avoid its first season with less than 10 wins since the 1976 squad went 9-8 over 17 matches.

Stanley Playing At A High Level

Over the last nine matches, sophomore outside/rightside hitter Morgan Stanley has been the team's most consistent, and best player. During that nine-match stretch, she is averaging 3.71 kills, 2.80 digs, 0.69 blocks, 0.43 aces and 4.50 points per set. She has four straight double-doubles, and six in her last nine matches, including a career-high tying 24 kills to go along with a career-high 18 digs in Saturday's win at Portland State. Over the nine matches, she has set or tied career highs in virtually every single-match category, including kills (24), digs (18), aces (10), blocks (6) and points (35.0). In addition, her .579 hitting percentage two weekends ago at Montana State was a season high, and wasn't far off her career high of .611, set last season.

Youth On Display

Amazingly, when Lauren Kissell made her Hornet debut five 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.