SACRAMENTO, Calif. — One year removed from a 26-7 overall record and a 12-4 league mark, the Sacramento State volleyball team was selected to finish fifth out of 12 teams in the Big Sky Conference's preseason coaches poll.
Ninth-year head coach Ruben Volta will oversee a roster that includes 13 returners from a season ago, including four starters and the libero. Last year, the Hornets also went 11-1 at home, were taken to five sets just twice all season, recorded a 12-match winning streak, never lost more than two matches in a row, and finished 78th out of 334 Div. I teams in the NCAA's final RPI report.
For volleyball, the Big Sky is split up into two six-team divisions, and although the Hornets finished third in the South Division last season, they had the third best conference record in the entire league. Sacramento State won its Big Sky Tournament quarterfinal match over Northern Colorado before falling to eventual tournament champion Northern Arizona in the semifinals.
Northern Arizona received nine first-place votes and 119 overall points in the poll, and was selected by the coaches to repeat as conference champions. Trailing NAU in the poll were Northern Colorado (104 points, one first-place vote), North Dakota (99 points, two first-place votes), Idaho State (86), Sacramento State (79), Idaho (68), Portland State (60), Eastern Washington (51), Weber State (44), Southern Utah (40), Montana State (23) and Montana (19).
The winner of the regular season championship will host the Big Sky Tournament on Nov. 17-19. The winner of the conference tournament receives an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Among the returners are starters at middle blocker (seniors Madeline Cannon and Courtney Dietrich), outside hitter (senior Morgan Stanley) and setter (junior Kennedy Kurtz). In addition, senior Lexie Skalbeck is back for her third straight year as the team's starting libero. Both Cannon and Kurtz were second team all-conference selections. The Hornets, however, will have to compensate for the losses of outside hitters Lauren Kissell and Sloan Lovett, who ranked fourth and sixth, respectively, in the Big Sky in kills per set.
Also returning are juniors Shannon Boyle, Hannah Meadows, Brigitte Murdock, Julia Wright and Erin Cochran, as well as sophomores Lana Brown, Brie Gathright and Skyler Takeda. The three newcomers are comprised of sophomore Mikaela Nocetti, and freshmen Paige Swinney and Sarah Davis. Nocetti, who transferred from the University of Portland prior to the spring semester, played with the Hornet beach volleyball team in 2016.
Sacramento State opens the season on Friday-Saturday, Aug. 26-27 for a three-match, four-team tournament in Arlington, Texas. The Hornets will play Arkansas Pine Bluff on Aug. 26 at 2 p.m. PDT prior to taking on both Sam Houston and host UT Arlington on Aug. 27.
2016 BIG SKY PRESEASON COACHES POLL
Team - Points (First Place Votes)
1. Northern Arizona - 119 (9)
2. Northern Colorado - 104 (1)
3. North Dakota - 99 (2)
4. Idaho State - 86
5. Sacramento State - 79
6. Idaho - 68
7. Portland State - 60
8. Eastern Washington - 51
9. Weber State - 44
10. Southern Utah - 40
11. Montana State - 23
12. Montana - 19
March 24, 2017 VOLLEYBALL TO PLAY FIVE MATCHES IN CHINA IN EARLY JUNE
February 28, 2017 KURTZ AND BOYLE TO ATTEND THE WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM OPEN TRYOUTS
January 30, 2017 HELP SUPPORT VOLLEYBALL'S SUMMER TRIP TO CHINA
November 15, 2016 VOLLEYBALL BEGINS BIG SKY TOURNAMENT ON THURSDAY VS. EASTERN WASHINGTON
October 31, 2016 CANNON AND SKALBECK SWEEP BIG SKY VOLLEYBALL WEEKLY AWARDS
October 26, 2016 VOLLEYBALL CONTINUES HOMESTAND; LOOKS TO IMPROVE HOME WINNING STREAK
October 20, 2016 FINALLY BACK AT HOME, VOLLEYBALL SWEEPS PAST IDAHO
October 8, 2016 VOLLEYBALL REMAINS HOT ON THE ROAD, BEATS NORTHERN COLORADO, 3-1
September 29, 2016 VOLLEYBALL HOSTS MONTANA TONIGHT, TRAVELS TO PORTLAND STATE ON SATURDAY
September 29, 2016 VOLLEYBALL NOW 3-0 IN THE BIG SKY AFTER HOME SWEEP OF MONTANA
September 26, 2016 KURTZ NAMED THE BIG SKY’S VOLLEYBALL OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
September 24, 2016 VOLLEYBALL NOW 2-0 IN THE BIG SKY AFTER 3-2 ROAD WIN AT IDAHO STATE
September 23, 2016 VOLLEYBALL OPENS CONFERENCE PLAY WITH 3-1 ROAD WIN AT WEBER STATE
September 21, 2016 VOLLEYBALL BEGINS CONFERENCE PLAY THIS WEEK ON THE ROAD
September 17, 2016 VOLLEYBALL SWEEPS SECOND ROUND MATCHUP OVER GRAND CANYON, 3-0
September 17, 2016 VOLLEYBALL FALLS TO EVENTUAL TOURNAMENT CHAMPION CAL POLY
September 16, 2016 VOLLEYBALL FALLS IN FOUR TO NEVADA IN 1ST ROUND OF SACRAMENTO STATE INVITE
September 13, 2016 VOLLEYBALL HOSTS UC DAVIS TONIGHT, TOURNAMENT ON FRIDAY & SATURDAY
September 13, 2016 VOLLEYBALL FALLS IN HOME OPENER TO UC DAVIS
September 10, 2016 VOLLEYBALL CONCLUDES 10-MATCH ROAD TRIP WITH CONVINCING SWEEP OF UTEP
September 9, 2016 VOLLEYBALL DROPS ANOTHER CLOSE MATCH, FALLS IN FIVE TO NEW MEXICO STATE
September 9, 2016 VOLLEYBALL FALLS TO ARIZONA IN 2ND ROUND OF LAS CRUCES TOURNAMENT
September 8, 2016 VOLLEYBALL WRAPS UP 10-MATCH ROAD TRIP THIS WEEK
September 6, 2016 VOLLEYBALL PICKS UP ROAD WIN, SWEEPS CSU BAKERSFIELD
September 3, 2016 VOLLEYBALL DROPS THREE 2-POINT SETS IN 3-1 LOSS TO HOFSTRA
September 2, 2016 VOLLEYBALL SUFFERS FIRST LOSS OF THE YEAR, FALLS AT UNLV, 3-1
September 2, 2016 VOLLEYBALL FALLS IN 2ND ROUND OF VEGAS TOURNAMENT TO CSUN
September 1, 2016 VOLLEYBALL TAKES 3-0 RECORD TO TOURNAMENT IN VEGAS
August 29, 2016 SKALBECK NAMED THE BIG SKY’S DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
August 23, 2016 VOLLEYBALL OPENS THE 2016 SEASON THIS FRIDAY IN ARLINGTON
August 23, 2016 VOLLEYBALL’S SPAGHETTI FEED FUNDRAISER GENERATES OVER $15,000
August 18, 2016 VOLLEYBALL ALUMNI GAME AND SPAGHETTI FEED ON TAP FOR SATURDAY
May 27, 2016 VOLLEYBALL RELEASES ITS 2016 SCHEDULE