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Big Sky Conference standings

The Week Ahead

• After playing in 14 non-league matches, Sacramento State (5-9) will finally begin its Big Sky Conference portion of the schedule this week. The Hornets will play on the road Thursday at Montana and Saturday at Montana State. Both matches will begin at 6 p.m. PDT.
• Sacramento State is the defending Big Sky regular season champions after finishing last season with a 15-1 conference record. The Hornets hosted the Big Sky Tournament a year ago, but fell in the championship match to North Dakota in five sets.
• Both setters on the roster did not play last week because of injury, contributing to the Hornets being swept three times in Boise by Portland, #13 Washington and Boise State. Sacramento State was forced to use a player who had never set in a match in her life (outside hitter Sarah Davis), and another player (libero Paige Swinney) who hadn't set since the sixth grade at the setter position.
• Overall, the Hornets have dropped four straight matches, their longest losing streak in the last three and a half years.
• However, Sacramento State could get setter Ashtin Olin (knee) back this week.
• The Hornets have won eight of their last nine Big Sky road matches dating back to the 2016 season.
• Montana will enter Thursday's matchup with a 3-9 record. The Grizzlies are 1-2 at home, and have not played at home since a five-set victory against Gonzaga on Sept. 1.
• Montana State (5-6) has won three of its last four matches, including back-to-back four-set victories over Tennessee Tech and Seattle last week in Seattle. The Bobcats will be playing at home for the first time all season, beginning on Thursday with a matchup vs. Portland State.

This Week's Multimedia Options

• Every match the rest of the season will be aired live and free via watchbigsky.com and Pluto TV. That includes both matches this week at the Montana schools.
• In addition, live stats will be offered for every match the rest of the season.
• Multimedia options (video, live stats) for all Sacramento State matches 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 30-13 all-time against Montana, and has won each of the last three meetings between the two teams. That includes three-set sweeps of the Grizzlies each of the last three years. The last time Montana won a set against Sacramento State came in Missoula in a four-set win over the Hornets on Oct. 25, 2014.
• Sacramento State's win on the road last year at Montana snapped a seven-match losing streak for the Hornets in Missoula. Overall, the Hornes are 13-9 when playing in Missoula.
• In one of the more dominant performances against any opponent, Sacramento State is 44-6 all-time against Montana State, good for a massive .880 winning percentage. In fact, the Hornets have won 11 straight, and 24 of their last 25 matches againt the Bobcats. Dating back to 2004, the only win for Montana State in the series came in a three-set sweep in Bozeman on Oct. 15, 2010.
• Overall, Sacramento State is 16-5 when playing the Bobcats in Bozeman.

Playing Without A True Setter

• Because of injuries, Sacramento State was forced to play three matches last week without a true setter as both setters on the roster were injured. This would be the equivalent to playing a football game without a quarterback, and last week's results weren't pretty because of the injuries.
• True freshman McKenna Smith was already lost for the season to a foot injury suffered in August practices. And redshirt freshman Ashtin Olin injured her knee in the Hornets' final match of the Sacramento State Invitational on Sept. 8, and was held out of last week's matches in Boise.
• Olin will be fitted for a knee brace, and is questionable to return this week.
• During last week's matches, Sacramento State employed a modified 5-1 offense that featured outside hitter Sarah Davis setting in the front row, and libero Paige Swinney setting in the back row. Davis had never set a match in her life prior to last week, and Swinney hadn't set since the sixth grade.
• As expected, when playing a Div. I match without a true setter, the Hornets had a tough time, falling in three sets to Portland, #13 Washington and Boise State. Prior to those losses, Sacramento State had been swept just once all season.
• The Hornet offense suffered, hitting just .049 during the three matches with an average of just 8.44 kills per set. Sacramento State did not finish with more than 30 kills in any of the three matches.

Two Wins Shy of 1,000

• Sacramento State is just two victories shy of 1,000 wins in program history.
• The program is 998-457, which breaks down to an impressive .686 winning percentage.
• That includes a 578-339 (.630) record since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991.
• The Hornets have won two national championships, 19 conference titles, and have reached the NCAA Tournament on 20 occasions.
• The national titles came back-to-back seasons when the Hornets won the AIAW Div. III championship in 1980, followed by the NCAA Div. II national title in 1981.

Hornet Notables

• Only three Hornets have started all 14 matches this year, comprised of outside hitter Mikaela Nocetti, and middle blockers Lana Brown and Brie Gathright.
• Sacramento State ranks among the nation's top 35 teams in a number of categories, including third in total blocks (140.5), 10th in aces (90), 16th in digs (864), 31st in blocks per set (2.60) and tied for 35th in aces per set (1.67).
• Nocetti, who is third in the Big Sky with 3.73 kills per set, has been named all-tournament each of the last two weeks, including MVP of the Sacramento State Invitational.
• Brown, who is tied for fourth in the nation with 68.0 total blocks, has at least four blocks in 11 of the Hornets' 14 matches this season.
• Sacramento State is 5-1 when limiting the opposition to a hitting percentage below .200, and 0-8 when an opponent hits better than .200.
• Over the last three seasons, the Hornets are a combined 40-8 in conference play, including a 16-8 record when playing on the road against a Big Sky opponent.