VOLLEYBALL BEGINS ROAD 4-GAME ROAD TRIP; HUGE MATCH AT IDAHO ON THURSDAY

VOLLEYBALL BEGINS ROAD 4-GAME ROAD TRIP; HUGE MATCH AT IDAHO ON THURSDAY

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

The Week Ahead

• Currently riding an eight-game winning streak and the only unbeaten team in the Big Sky Conference, Sacramento State (17-7, 8-0) begins a stretch that will see the team play four straight, and six of its final eight conference games of the season away from home.
• That run begins on Thursday when the Hornets play a huge match at Idaho (12-7, 7-1) at 7 p.m., followed on Saturday by a 2 p.m. matinee against Eastern Washington (6-11, 3-5).
• Thursday's matchup is a battle of the Big Sky's two first place teams as Idaho sits atop the North Division while Sacramento State is the South Division leader. The Big Sky is split into two six-team divisions and Idaho has a one-game lead in the North, the Hornets a two-game lead in the South.
• Sacramento State and Idaho play each other just once this year, and the winner will own a huge tiebreaker advantage and the early inside track of hosting this year's Big Sky Tournament. The team with the best record at the end of the regular season hosts the postseason tournament Nov. 16-18.
• The Hornets, who completed a 4-0 homestand last week, have now won 16 consecutive regular season matches against Big Sky opposition. That streak dates back one day shy of a full calendar year as a home three-set sweep of Idaho on Oct. 20, 2016, began the long stretch of wins.
• Sacramento State is off to its best start in Big Sky play since joining the league in 1996. Only the 2007 team also began the year with an 8-0 league record. A win on Thursday would allow the team to become the first Hornet squad to ever begin the year 9-0.
• The Hornets are the defending Big Sky South Division champions after finishing last season with a 20-12 overall record and 13-3 mark in conference.

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 at Idaho and Eastern Washington. Both of this week's matches will also be available 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

• Sacramento State is a combined 36-20 against its two opponents this week.
• The Hornets and Idaho have played each other just six times with each team winning three times. The Vandals rejoined the Big Sky in 2014 after a long hiatus away from the league. Idaho was one of the Big Sky's original six members before departing from the league in 1996.
• The Hornets have played on Idaho's home floor just once, and that was a 3-2 loss on Oct. 10, 2015. In that match, Idaho used a 10-0 run to erase a 24-16 second half deficit and eventually win.
• Sacramento State's convincing win a season ago inside the Nest (25-21, 25-15, 25-18) snapped a three-match losing streak against the Vandals.
• The Hornets are 33-17 all-time against Eastern Washington, including a 10-12 mark when playing the Eagles in Cheney. Sacramento State has lost three straight, and six of the last seven meetings on EWU's home floor. The last Hornet win in Cheney came on Nov. 18, 2011, in five sets.
• Sacramento State defeated Eastern Washington, 3-2, in last year's Big Sky Tourney quarterfinals.

Hornet Streaks

• Dating back to last year, the Hornets have won 16 consecutive regular season conference matches. The Hornets finished the 2016 season as winners of eight straight league contests.
• Of those 16 straight wins, 10 have come via three-set sweep.
• Overall this season, the Hornets have won eight straight, and 14 of the last 16 games.
• The team is 8-0 in the Big Sky for just the second time since joining the league in 1996 (the 2007 team also accomplished the feat).
• With a win on Thursday, Sacramento State would post its best Big Sky start in school history. The 2007 squad started with an 8-0 record, but dropped its ninth match. That 2007 team also won the Big Sky title and was the last Hornet squad to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
• Sacramento State has won 22 consecutive home matches against Big Sky opposition, a streak which dates back to Sept. 24, 2015.

Winning Streak Numbers

• During the current eight-game winning streak, Sacramento State is averaging big numbers in kills (15.32), digs (19.07) and aces (1.82) per set. The team is also averaging 2.46 blocks per set.
• In addition, the Hornets have hit a very respectable .261 during the streak. To put things in perspective, opponents are averaging nearly three kills per set less than the Hornets (12.46) and are hitting just .192.
• In 28 sets, Sacramento State has 51 aces, including a massive 15 from Kennedy Kurtz.
• The six-rotation outside hitter duo of reigning Big Sky Player of the Week Mikaela Nocetti (4.18 kps, 3.36 dps) and Shannon Boyle (3.32 kps, 4.43 dps) has been outstanding. Middles Brie Gathright (2.00 kps, .389 hit%) and Lana Brown (2.25 kps, .333 hit%) are both hitting for high percentages.
• Kurtz is hitting a ridiculous .508 (36-3-65) during the winning streak while averaging 1.29 kills, 12.25 assists, 0.54 aces, 2.64 digs and 0.68 blocks per set.

Hornet Notables

• Aided by the fact the Hornets have already played in 95 sets this year, Sacramento State is the national leader in four categories, including kills (1,294), digs (1,630), assists (1,214) and attacks (3,740). The team has moved up to 23rd in the nation with 17.16 digs per set.
• Setter Kennedy Kurtz is the only player in the nation with 1,000 assists (1,046), and has 80 more than the next closest player. The reigning first team all-Big Sky selection is also just 68 assists shy of becoming the fourth setter in school history with 5,000 career assists. Her 4,932 career assists are the fifth best mark in Big Sky Conference history, and most by a Big Sky player since former Hornet setter Lisa Beauchene had 5,153 from 2000-03.
• Outside hitters Mikaela Nocetti (326) and Shannon Boyle (322) are currently 20th and 21st, respectively, in the nation in total kills.
Ruben Volta has used the same starters in every match: Boyle and Nocetti at outside hitter, Brown and Gathright in the middle, Kurtz at setter, Davis on the right side and Murdock at libero.