VOLLEYBALL OPENS SEASON TOMORROW IN SOUTH CAROLINA
The Week Ahead
Sacramento State kicks off the 2012 season this week when the squad takes part in the two-day, four-team Hampton Inn & Suites West Ashley Invitational in Charleston, S.C. The Hornets open tournament play against host College of Charleston on Friday at 4 p.m. PDT, and play both North Carolina State (7 a.m. PDT) and Jacksonville (1:30 p.m. PDT) on Saturday.
The Hornets finished last season with a 17-15 overall record and a 10-6 mark in the Big Sky Conference, good for a third place finish in the final league standings. This year’s roster is comprised of nine returners and six newcomers, two of which are Div. I transfers.
This week’s tournament marks the first time in school history that the Sacramento State volleyball squad will play in the state of South Carolina, and the farthest east the team has traveled since playing at the Big Orange Tournament in Syracuse, N.Y., in 2009. In addition, every match this week will mark the first time in school history Sacramento State will have played College of Charleston, North Carolina State and Jacksonville.
The College of Charleston is offering live video for Friday night’s match against the Hornets. The match costs $2 to watch and fans can sign up to watch by clicking here. Live stats for all three Hornet matches are available by clicking here. Beginning with next week’s Sacramento State Invitational, a free video stream will be offered for every Hornet home match. Links for all multimedia options can be found on the volleyball schedule at www.hornetsports.com.
A notoriously slow starting team, Sacramento State has dropped its season opener each of the last two years, and is 10-11 in season openers since the program’s first year of Div. I play in 1991.
Leading The Way
Senior outside hitters Janelle Currey and Jessie Genger will share the team captain duties in 2012. The most decorated player on the squad, Currey has started each of Sacramento State’s 96 matches over the last three years and already has 1,080 career kills and 1,305 digs. In fact, the Rocklin native is just the fourth player in school history to join the 1,000 kills/1,000 digs club prior to her senior season. Genger transferred from Gonzaga prior to last year and will make the switch to outside hitter this season after playing on the right side in 2011. A Big Sky all-academic selection, Genger posted averages of 1.34 kills and 0.92 digs per set.
Big Sky’s Most Successful Team
Sacramento State’s 10 NCAA Div. I Tournament appearances are six more than any other current Big Sky Conference member. The Hornets have reached the NCAA’s postseason event 10 times in the last 15 years (1997-00, 2002-07), but will be looking for their first trip to the Dance since 2007. That 2007 squad defeated Minnesota in the first round of the tournament. In addition, the team has compiled a 184-62 conference record since joining the Big Sky in 1996, and a 466-245 record since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991.
Big Sky Preseason Poll
The Hornets were selected to finish sixth among 11 teams in the Big Sky Conference’s preseason coaches poll. Previously a nine-member league, the Big Sky will expand to 11 teams this year with the addition of members North Dakota and Southern Utah. In addition, the top six teams at the end of the regular season will advance to the Big Sky Tournament after four teams reached the league’s postseason event the last three seasons.
One Of The Nation’s Best on Defense
Defense has been a long-standing tradition at Sacramento State as the program has ranked among the nation’s top 25 teams in digs per set 12 times in the last 17 years. Last season, the Hornets were the only team in the nation to rank among the top 35 in both digs per set (9th, 18.39) and blocks per set (13th, 2.76). In addition, opponents hit just .152 against Sacramento State last year. Serving has been another strong point of Sacramento State’s repertoire, as the team finished 43rd in the nation with 1.46 aces per set in 2011.
Last season, the Hornets were 16-1 when limiting the opposition to a hitting percentage below .165, and 1-14 when the opposition hits .165 or better.
At the beginning of summer training camp, head coach Ruben Volta hinted the team would likely employ a 6-2 offense this year, where the setter is always in the back row allowing the offense to have three front row attackers during all rotations. Setters Hannah Hettinga and Katie Aprile would be rotated throughout the set, as would rightside hitters Kayla Beal and Kiley Mansfield. However, Mansfield is currently battling a shoulder injury and her status for this weekend is in doubt. The Hornets are nursing a number of additional injuries, and Volta may not decide on an offensive scheme until after Friday morning’s practice.
Middle blockers Olivia Moss, Chelcy Motes and Ashley Newcomb will likely all see action this week…the three have been battling for the two starting middle spots since training began on Aug. 8…after spending the last three seasons as a defensive specialist (right back), senior Sydney Kordic will make her first career start at libero on Friday…every member of Sacramento State’s coaching staff (head coach Ruben Volta, and assistants Sarah Chlebana and Jason Borchin) also played volleyball for the Hornets during their student-athlete days…setter Alex Diemer and Newcomb will both play this year after redshirting last season.