VOLLEYBALL PLAYS FINAL REGULAR-SEASON MATCHES THIS WEEK
Senior setter Anna Schoener has at least four kills and four blocks in each of her last three matches
Having already clinched a spot in next week’s Big Sky Conference Tournament, the Sacramento State volleyball squad (16-13, 9-5) will embark upon its final two regular-season matches of the season this week. The Hornets will travel to Eastern Washington on Friday, followed by a Saturday matchup at Portland State.
Regardless of what the Hornets do this week, the team will be among four squads competing in the Big Sky Tournament (Nov. 25-26 on Portland State’s home floor). The winner of the league’s postseason event will earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, a place Sacramento State has been 10 times in the last 14 years (1997-00, 2002-07).
Sacramento State is currently in third place in the conference standings, one game behind second-place Portland State (11-4), and a half game ahead of fourth-place Eastern Washington (9-6). Depending on the outcomes of this week’s matches, Sacramento State could finish anywhere between second and fourth place in the standings. Northern Colorado has already clinched the Big Sky regular-season title and will assume the No. 1 seed at the tournament.
SCENARIOS FOR THIS WEEK
- If the Hornets win both their matches this week, they would be the No. 2 seed in the Big Sky Tournament and take on No. 3 seed Portland State on Friday, Nov. 25, at 7:30 p.m.
- Should the Hornets lose both matches this week, they will be the No. 4 seed and take on No. 1 seed Northern Colorado on Friday, Nov. 25 at 5:30 p.m.
- Should the Hornets defeat Eastern Washington on Friday and lose to Portland State on Saturday, Sacramento State would be the No. 3 seed and face No. 2 Portland State on Friday, Nov. 25, at 7:30 p.m.
- Should the Hornets lose to Eastern Washington on Friday and beat Portland State on Saturday, Sacramento State will either be the No. 3 or 4 seed depending on the score of the Eastern Washington match. The Hornets swept EWU earlier this year in Sacramento, and would own the tiebreaker over the Eagles if they win at least one set in Friday night’s match.
Sacramento State clinched a spot in the Big Sky Tournament after sweeping Montana on the home floor last Saturday on Senior Day. The Hornets concluded the home portion of the schedule with an 8-5 record inside the friendly confines, including a 6-2 mark against Big Sky opposition. The Hornets are 3-3 on the road against Big Sky teams this year, but lost to both Northern Colorado and Northern Arizona in the team’s last road trip on Oct. 27-29.
The Hornets handily defeated both Portland State (25-10, 25-20, 25-15) and Eastern Washington (25-23, 25-19, 25-18) on the home floor earlier this year, and will look to continue that success this week on the road.
Overall, Sacramento State has won 11 of its past 15 matches after a Sept. 22 loss to Northern Arizona dropped the team to 5-9 overall.
Eastern Washington will enter its regular-season finale Friday night against the Hornets with a 13-13 overall record and a 9-6 mark in the Big Sky. The Eagles have been up and down this season, which includes a pair of five-match winning streaks that sandwiched around a five-match losing streak. EWU has dropped its last two matches, including a 3-1 home loss on Saturday against Portland State. Sacramento State is 28-13 all-time against Eastern Washington, including its three-set sweep earlier this year in Sacramento. However, the Hornets are 9-9 against the Eagles when playing in Cheney, and haven’t won on EWU’s home floor since the 2007 season. Sacramento State and Eastern Washington faced each other in the Big Sky Tournament championship match eight times over a nine-year span (1998-06), with the Hornets winning seven of those meetings.
Portland State will enter its regular season finale on Saturday night with a 16-12 overall record and an 11-4 mark in the conference. Along with Northern Colorado, the Vikings are one of the hottest teams in the league having won three straight and eight of their last nine matches. Portland State is 6-2 on its home floor this year, including 5-2 against league foes. Sacramento State is 36-16 all-time against Portland State in a series which dates back to 1979. That includes a 13-8 mark when playing the Vikings in Portland. However, the Vikings have won five of the last six meetings between the two teams on PSU’s home floor. The Hornets’ most recent Big Sky Tournament title (2007) came at home against the Vikings in the championship match that year.
Sacramento State at Eastern Washington
Friday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m.
Reese Court - Cheney, Wash.
Coverage: Live Video, Live Stats
Series Record: Hornets Lead, 28-13
Series in Cheney: Series Tied, 9-9
Last Meeting: W, 3-0, in Sacramento (10/8/11)
Sacramento State at Portland State
Saturday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m.
Stott Center - Portland, Ore.
Coverage: Live Video, Live Stats
Series Record: Hornets Lead, 36-16
Series in Portland: Hornets Lead, 13-8
Last Meeting: W, 3-0, in Sacramento (10/7/11)
BIG SKY SUCCESS -- Since joining the Big Sky Conference in 1996, the Hornets are a staggering 183-58 against the league, which amounts to a .759 winning percentage. That includes a run of 11 consecutive Big Sky regular season and/or tournament championships spanning 1997 until 2007. The Hornets have accounted for eight regular season titles (1997-01, 2005-07) and nine conference tournament crowns (1997-98, 2000, 2002-07).
WINNING WITH DEFENSE -- Sacramento State remains the only team in the nation to rank among the top 15 in both digs and blocks per set. Among national leaders, the Hornets’ average of 18.21 digs per set is the 14th best mark, and the team’s 2.78 blocks per set is the 15th best mark. Its no secret that Sacramento State will usually win its matches with defense as the team is limiting Big Sky opponents to a .128 hitting percentage, easily the best mark in the conference. Defense has been a long-standing tradition at Sacramento State as the Hornets have ranked among the nation’s top 25 teams in digs per set 11 times in the last 16 years.
SERVING TOUGH -- In conference play, Sacramento State has recorded 84 aces (compared to just 58 for the opposition), and is the top team in the league with an average of 1.56 aces per set. The Hornets currently have three players ranking among the conference’s top six in aces per set, comprised of Janelle Currey (T-3rd, 0.30), Sydney Kordic (T-3rd, 0.28) and Kelsey Elston (T-3rd, 0.30). Kordic has recorded at least one ace in 12 of the last 14 matches.
.165 IS THE MARK -- The Hornets are 15-1 when limiting the opposition to a hitting percentage below .165, and 1-12 when the opposition hits .165 or better.
NOTABLES -- Senior libero Breanne Menees will be appearing in her 93rd consecutive match as the team’s libero on Friday, and has 1,867 career digs which are the second most in Big Sky history and third most in school history. She needs just 33 more digs to move into sole possession of second place on Sacramento State’s career top 10. Menees is first in the Big Sky (all matches) and 28th in the nation this year with 5.31 digs per set…senior middle blocker Maddison Thivierge’s average of 1.33 blocks per set against conference competition ranks as the second best mark in the Big Sky. Overall, she ranks 52nd in the nation with 1.19 blocks per set…the Hornets have won five of the last six matches in which sophomore setter Hannah Hettinga posts at least 20 assists…senior setter Anna Schoener has at least four kills in three straight matches, including five kills (5-0-6), an .833 hitting percentage and four blocks Saturday against Montana…senior outside hitter Eryn Kirby, who currently has 1,098 career kills, needs just seven kills to move into the top 15 in school history. The reigning Big Sky Player of the Week has double-doubles (kills and digs) in seven of her last eight matches…among conference leaders (against Big Sky competition only), senior middle blocker Kelsey Elston is third in blocks (1.20 per set), tied for third in aces (0.30 per set) and tied for fourth in hitting percentage (.296)…junior outside hitter Janelle Currey now has 1,058 career kills and 1,252 digs, and is the 11th Hornet to join the 1,000 kill/1,000 dig club since 1985…sophomore rightside hitter Kayla Beal has recorded at least seven kills in six straight and 18 of the last 20 matches…junior defensive specialist Sydney Kordic has at least 17 digs in three of her last five matches, including a season-high 18 on Saturday against Montana.