A Look At The Hornets
The Sacramento State volleyball squad will compete in the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in 10 years when it takes on second-ranked Stanford in the first round on Friday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. inside Maples Pavilion (Stanford, Calif.). Friday will mark the third time in five years the Hornets and Cardinal will face each other in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, with Stanford posting three-game sweeps in 2002 and 2003. In addition, Sacramento State will open play at Maples Pavilion for the fourth time in five years as the team lost to Santa Clara, 3-1, in the first round of last year’s tournament.
Stanford has defeated the Hornets on eight straight occasions, the second longest active losing streak for Sacramento State against any team. Coincidentally, Santa Clara, which will face Missouri in the other first round match Friday at 4:30 p.m., holds the longest active winning streak against Sacramento State at nine matches. The Sacramento State/Stanford and Santa Clara/Missouri winners will face each other on Saturday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m., in second-round action at Maples Pavilion.
The Hornets received an automatic berth into the NCAA’s postseason event after winning the Big Sky Conference Tournament for the fifth straight season with victories over Northern Colorado (semifinals) and Eastern Washington (championship match). Sacramento State has now won either the Big Sky’s regular season and/or tournament championship each of the last 10 years. That includes eight Big Sky Tournament championships (1997-98, 2000, 2002-06) and seven Big Sky regular season titles (1997-01, 2005-06). The Hornets joined the Big Sky in 1996.
Sacramento State enters the 64-team field with a 30-5 overall record, the most victories since the 1995 squad went 35-4. The Hornets have won seven straight and 24 of its last 26 matches heading into the tournament. Among Sacramento State’s 30 victories include three-game sweeps of NCAA Tournament participants Long Beach State and Stephen F. Austin. The Hornets finished the season 15-1 at home, 11-3 on the road and 4-1 at neutral sites.
Friday’s match will be broadcast live on Sacramento State’s website (www.hornetsports.com) with Brian Berger calling all the action. To access the broadcast, click on the “Multimedia” link and follow the instructions.
The Hornets have not left the Bay Area for the first round of the NCAA Tournament since 1999 when the team played in Los Angeles. Since that time, Sacramento State has played its first-round matches in San Jose (2000), Stanford (2002-03, 2005-06) and Berkeley (2004). Consequently, the team has not won a first-round NCAA Tournament match since the 1998 season when the Hornets knocked off Houston (3-0) in the first round in Stockton, Calif. Sacramento State, which won an AIAW National Championship in 1980 and an NCAA Div. II National Championship in 1981, has compiled a 1-8 all-time record in NCAA Div. I Tournament play. The Hornets made the move to the Div. I ranks in 1991.
A Look At The Tournament Field
Winners of its first outright Pacific-10 Conference championship since 2001, Stanford will enter Friday’s match with a 25-3 overall record and the tournament’s No. 2 seed. The Cardinal posted a 16-2 conference record and finished the season 12-1 at home, with their only loss in Maples Pavilion coming against sixth-ranked USC. Stanford has won six national championships (1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2004) and has earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament 26 consecutive years. Stanford has swept its last four opponents and 22 of the team’s 25 victories have come via three-game sweeps despite playing in one of the toughest conferences in the nation.
Santa Clara will enter Friday’s match against Missouri with a 20-7 record. The Broncos will be making their ninth straight NCAA Tournament appearance and the 11th in program history. Santa Clara opens the postseason at Stanford for the second year in row, as the team is 5-2 all-time in NCAA Tournament play at Maples Pavilion. That includes last year’s magical run that saw the Broncos defeat Sacramento State, Stanford, Pepperdine and Arizona, in the first four rounds, respectively, at Maples Pavilion. The Broncos eventually became the first West Coast Conference team to reach the Final Four before finally losing to Nebraska in the semifinals.
Missouri was the recipient of an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament after posting a 17-12 overall record, including an 11-9 mark in the Big 12 Conference. The Tigers were swept by Long Beach State at the beginning of the season, a team the Hornets swept on Sept. 21. However, Missouri posted a 3-0 victory over eighth-ranked Texas on Sept. 23. Last season, Missouri reached the round of eight at the NCAA Tournament, defeating Missouri State, Arkansas and Hawai’i before finally losing to Tennessee.
Head Coach Debby Colberg
For the 31st-straight season, Debby Colberg controls the Sacramento State sidelines. During her tenure, Colberg has posted a 799-283 record (.738 winning percentage) and has led the team to 18 league titles and 26 postseason berths. Her 799 victories are fifth among active NCAA coaches with five-plus years of Div. I experience. Colberg has been named the Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year a conference-record seven times in the last 10 years. In addition, Sacramento State has posted 29 winning seasons in Colberg’s 31 years at the helm. The 1989 AVCA National Div. II Coach of the Year, Colberg led the Hornets to back-to-back national championships in 1980 (AIAW National Champs) and 1981 (NCAA Div. II National Champs). She also had the added responsibility of serving as Sacramento State’s athletic director from 1999 until 2002.
A longtime staple of Debby Colberg coached teams, Sacramento State has won this season behind the strength of one of the nation’s top defenses. Owners of the nation’s 15th best winning percentage (.857), Sacramento State is currently the only squad to rank among the nation’s top 10 teams in both digs and blocks per game. The Hornets are third in blocks with 3.61 per game, and 10th in digs with 19.50 per game. Sacramento State has posted double figures in team blocks in all but eight matches this season. That includes a season-high tying 19 in a three-game sweep of Long Beach State. The defense is spearheaded by three players currently ranking among the nation’s leaders in their respective categories. Junior middle hitters Michelle Franz (1.83) and Lindsay Haupt (1.48) rank fourth and 25th, respectively, in the nation in blocks per game. Senior Kristin Lutes, who was named Big Sky Libero of the Year, is currently 10th in the nation with 6.31 digs per game.
Rose Burke: One of two setters on this year’s team (Melcher) as the Hornets ran a 6-2 offense the majority of the season...has averages of 8.96 assists and 2.72 digs per game...has 19 matches with double figures in digs, including a career-high 18 in the Big Sky Tournament championship win vs. Eastern Washington.
Brittany Ferguson: Has appeared in 14 matches, including 21 games...posted a career-high four kills vs. New Mexico State...had at least one kill in eight matches.
Jennifer Ferguson: Has played in every match, and in 119 of the team’s 120 games...that includes 20 starts...averaging 1.82 kills and 2.71 digs per game...has seven double-doubles (kills and digs), including five in her last eight matches...has nine matches with double-figure kills and 18 with double-figure digs.
Michelle Franz: Named first team all-Big Sky...averaging 2.42 kills and 1.83 blocks per game...the blocks rank first in the conference and fourth in the nation...named Big Sky Player of the Week a league-best three times...has at least five blocks in 25 matches, including 10 or more on five occasions...her 219 blocks are the second most in school single-season history...her .338 hitting percentage ranks first in the Big Sky (one point higher than Lindsay Haupt), and the 10th best mark in school history.
Lindsay Haupt: A first team all-Big Sky selection and Big Sky Tournament MVP for the second consecutive year...averaging 3.09 kills and 1.48 blocks per game (25th in the nation) to go along with a .337 hitting percentage...ranks second in the Big Sky in both blocks and hitting percentage...named Big Sky Player of the Week twice...dominated league competition with 3.20 kills per game and a league-high .375 hitting percentage...has hit at least .348 in 16 of her last 18 matches and is hitting .386 over that span.
Desireé Hoyum: Has appeared in 18 matches, including 25 games...averaging 0.80 kills and 0.56 digs per game...has at least one kill in 12 matches.
Atlee Hubbard: Named first team all-Big Sky for the second straight year...has started all 35 matches and appeared in all 120 games...leads the Big Sky with 22 double-doubles (kills and digs)...currently has a career-high streak of 16 straight matches with double figures in kills...has at least 10 kills in all but four matches this season, including a career-high 27 at Northern Colorado...has double figures in digs in all but 10 matches...ranks fourth in the Big Sky with 4.04 kills per game...also averaging 3.40 digs per game.
Leah Klemenhagen: Has appeared in 34 matches, including 24 starts and 106 games...averaging 1.28 kills and 1.16 blocks per game to go along with a .207 hitting percentage...the blocks per game are the sixth best mark in the Big Sky...has posted at least five blocks in 12 matches.
Kristin Lutes: Named the Big Sky’s Libero of the Year for the third time in four years...also named second team all-Big Sky for the second straight season...averaging a Big Sky best 6.31 digs per game, a mark which ranks eighth in the nation...owner of the Big Sky single season (757) and career record (2,344) for digs...also the Sacramento State record holder in both categories...has at least 12 digs in every match.
Melissa Melcher: Has appeared in all 35 matches...averaging 4.57 assists and 1.51 digs per game...hitting .283 with 21 kills and six errors in 53 attacks...had at least 20 assists on eight occasions.
Shannon Roland: Averaging a career-high 2.57 kills and 1.37 digs per game...has double figures in kills a career-high 11 times...posted career highs in both aces (4) and digs (17) against New Mexico State.
Anna Schoener: Has appeared in all 35 matches, including seven starts and 95 games...averaging 0.98 kills and 0.71 blocks per game...one of the Hornets’ two rightside hitters (Leah Klemenhagen).
Alexandra Vidal: Has appeared in seven matches...had a season-high four digs against Montana State and Idaho State.