VOLLEYBALL HOSTS NORTH DAKOTA ON THURSDAY IN BATTLE OF THE BIG SKY UNBEATENS

VOLLEYBALL HOSTS NORTH DAKOTA ON THURSDAY IN BATTLE OF THE BIG SKY UNBEATENS

Full set of game notes (7 pages) - pdf
Big Sky Conference standings

The Week Ahead

• Currently riding a four-match winning streak, and fresh off a pair of road sweeps last week at Montana and Portland State, the Hornets (13-7, 4-0) embark upon their biggest week of the season.
• Sacramento State has a pair of home matches against two of the top teams in the Big Sky, which includes Thursday at 7 p.m. vs. North Dakota (19-2, 4-0) and Saturday at 1 p.m. vs. Northern Colorado (9-8, 2-2).
• North Dakota and Sacramento State are currently the two Division leaders in the Big Sky (UND in the North, SAC in the South) and are the only unbeaten teams remaining in the 12-member league.
• Northern Colorado was selected to finish in second place behind North Dakota in this year's Big Sky preseason coaches poll (the Hornets were selected third).
• Something has to give on Thursday as North Dakota has won six straight, and 15 of its last 16 matches. That includes home sweeps of both Idaho and Eastern Washington last week. The Hornets, meanwhile, have won 18 straight home matches against conference opposition dating back to 2015.
• Thursday is Cystinosis Awareness Night. Cystinosis is a rare metabolic disease that affects approximately 500 people in the United States (mostly children) where cystine accumulates in the cells of the body damaging numerous organs. Two children close to the program, siblings Jenna and Patrick, are battling the disease. Jenna will serve as an honorary captain and be introduced with the team prior to the match. Her brother, Patrick, will also be in attendance. For more information or a way to help, please log onto Jenna & Patrick's Foundation of Hope website at www.jpfh.org.
• Thursday's match also opens a season-long four match homestand for the Hornets.

This Week's Multimedia Options

• Free live video will be offered for every match the rest of the season via www.WatchBigSky.com. That includes this week's games vs. North Dakota and Northern Colorado. Thursday's match will also be on Pluto TV, a free internet television service that can be viewed via an app for mobile devices as well as on PlutoTV.com.
• Multimedia options (video, live stats) can be accessed to the right of each match on the volleyball schedule at www.hornetsports.com.

vs. This Week's Opponents

• The only two opponents in the 12-member Big Sky that Sacramento State has a losing record against, the Hornets are 2-6 all-time vs. North Dakota and 12-13 vs. Northern Colorado.
• North Dakota, which is the reigning Big Sky regular season and tournament champions, defeated the Hornets in five sets last year in Grand Forks (15-13 in the 5th set).
• The two teams have not played in Sacramento since a four-set UND win on Oct. 30, 2014. The Fighting Hawks have won three straight on the Hornets' home floor with Sacramento State's lone home win over UND (1-3) coming on Oct. 29, 1988.
• Though Sacramento State is 12-13 against Northern Colorado, the Hornets have won the last three meetings which includes a four-set win in Greeley last year. Sacramento State also defeated the Bears in the quarterfinal round of the 2015 Big Sky Tournament in Flagstaff, Ariz.
• Sacramento State is 8-4 all-time against Northern Colorado at home.

Playing Good Volleyball

• The Hornets have won four straight matches with the most impressive performance of that streak coming in Saturday's three-set sweep at Portland State. The Vikings had been undefeated in league play and had won six straight matches all via three-set sweep.
• During the four-match winning streak, all against Big Sky opposition, the Hornets have won in four sets or less in each. That includes three consecutive three-set sweeps.
• During the winning streak, the Hornets are hitting a very proficient .277 with averages of 15.54 kills, 2.15 aces, 17.15 digs and 2.23 blocks per set. In fact, the team has hit at least .248 in all four matches, and each of those marks rank among the top six best Hornet percentages of the season.
• Also during the streak, Sacramento State has five players averaging better than two kills per set comprised of Shannon Boyle (3.92), Mikaela Nocetti (3.38), Sarah Davis (2.23), Brie Gathright (2.15) and Lana Brown (2.08).

Hornet Notables

• Aided by the fact the Hornets have already played in 80 sets this year, Sacramento State is the national leader in a number of categories, including kills (1,067), digs (1,319), assists (1,000) and attacks (3,115).
• In addition, the Hornets have individuals ranking among the nation's top 15 players in many categories. That includes Kennedy Kurtz ranking first with 863 assists and 14th with 31 aces, Shannon Boyle ranking first in attacks (940) and 11th in kills (280), Brigitte Murdock 11th with 357 digs, Mikaela Nocetti ranking sixth in attacks (829), and Lana Brown 14th in blocks (87).
• After failing to win in three sets during the first 17 matches of the season, Sacramento State has posted three consecutive three-set sweeps of Idaho State, Montana and Portland State.
• During the first 16 matches of the year, the Hornets had hit above .240 in a match just twice. However, the team has now hit better than .240 in four consecutive matches.
• Sacramento State had been 1-7 when opponents hit .200 or better, but the team has now won each of its last three matches in that same scenario (WSU .250, ISU .221, PSU .200).
• During the Hornets' current 18-match home winning streak against conference opposition, Sacramento State has won 11 of those via three-set sweeps, six via 3-1 scores, and only once was there a 3-2 score. The 3-2 victory came during the first win of the streak against Southern Utah on Sept. 24, 2015. So, the Hornets have won 17 straight at home over league foes by 3-0 or 3-1 scores.
• Rightside hitter Sarah Davis is hitting .400 (25-3-55) with 2.89 kills per set over her last three matches, and middle blocker Brie Gathright is hitting .463 (28-3-54) with 2.15 kps over the last four.
Shannon Boyle continues to easily lead the Big Sky in double-doubles with 15. Mikaela Nocetti is second with 12, and Kennedy Kurtz is tied for fourth with nine. Boyle currently has a streak of seven consecutive matches with double figures in kills.
Brigitte Murdock has posted double figure digs in all but two matches. Skyler Takeda has at least one ace in five straight matches, combining for 12 aces during that stretch.
• As a program, Sacramento State is now just 20 wins shy of reaching 1,000. The program has an all-time record of 980-446.