VOLLEYBALL EMBARKS UPON FINAL WEEK OF REGULAR SEASON WITH POSTSEASON BERTH ON THE LINE
A Look At This Week
The Sacramento State volleyball squad (9-21, 7-7) enters its final week of the regular season with a pair of home matches against both Eastern Washington (Friday, Nov. 21, 7 p.m.) and Portland State (Saturday, Nov. 22, 7 p.m.). The Hornets need to win one match this week to clinch a spot in the Big Sky Conference Tournament for the 13th consecutive season, or every year since the team joined the league in 1996. The top six teams in the nine-member league advance to the postseason tournament, which will be played in Portland on Nov. 28-29.
Depending on this week’s outcomes, Sacramento State could finish as low as seventh place in the conference standings, and as high as a fourth-place tie. However, because of tiebreakers, the Hornets will get no better than a No. 5 seed in the tournament. Prior to this season, the Hornets had never finished lower than second place in the standings. The top two teams in the conference receive a first-round by in the Big Sky Tournament.
Should the Hornets go winless this week, the team could still find itself in the Big Sky Tournament if seventh-place Northern Arizona (6-9) loses its final match of the year at Northern Colorado. It just so happens that Sacramento State is playing the top two teams in the conference this week. In fact, both Portland State and Eastern Washington are tied atop the Big Sky with 11-4 records
Should Eastern Washington defeat the Hornets on Friday, the Eagles would clinch the No. 1 seed for the tournament regardless of what happens in Saturday’s match between the Hornets and Portland State. Should Eastern Washington lose on Friday, and Portland State win on Saturday, the Vikings would earn the No. 1 seed. Gaining the No. 1 seed in the tournament also gets that team the added bonus of automatically hosting the following year’s Big Sky Tournament. Prior to this season, Sacramento State had hosted the last three Big Sky Tournaments, and either Sacramento State or Eastern Washington has hosted the event each of the last 11 years.
Eastern Washington (16-10, 11-4) will play its final match of the regular season on Friday against the Hornets. The Eagles defeated the Hornets in a hard-fought five-set victory in Cheney earlier this season (17-15 in the fifth set). The Eagles have won four in a row, and 10 of their last 11 matches. Sacramento State is 26-9 all-time against Eastern Washington and has won 10 of the last 11 meetings between the two teams. That includes a 17-2 mark against the Eagles in Sacramento.
Portland State (18-7, 11-4) will play its final match of the regular season on Saturday against the Hornets. The Vikings’ lost on Saturday at home to Eastern Washington, which snapped a six-match winning streak. Sacramento State is 33-13 all-time against Portland State, including a five-set victory earlier this year against the Vikings in Portland. The Hornets are 14-1 all-time against Portland State in Sacramento.
Big Sky Tournament Scenarios
• With two Hornet victories this week, and two losses by either Weber State or Montana, Sacramento State would earn the No. 5 seed. Should Weber State and Montana win one of their two matches this week, the Hornets would still get the No. 6 seed despite two victories.
• With two Hornets losses this week, and a Northern Arizona victory at Northern Colorado, Sacramento State would fail to make the Big Sky Tournament. With two Hornet losses and a Northern Arizona loss, Sacramento State would earn the No. 6 seed.
• Should the Hornets split their two matches this week, the team would get the No. 6 seed regardless of what happens with the other Big Sky matches.
• Eastern Washington would gain the No. 1 seed for the tournament with a win over Sacramento State on Friday night. If Eastern Washington loses to the Hornets on Friday, Portland State could get the No. 1 seed for the tournament with a win over the Hornets on Saturday.
Broadcast/Live Stats Information
Both matches this week can be seen live and free on www.bigskytv.org. In addition, live stats and audio for both matches can be found at www.hornetsports.com.
Streaks & Figures
After losing four starters (two outsides, two middles) and the libero from last year’s team, Sacramento State will experience its first sub -.500 season since the team posted a 13-19 record during its first year of Div. I play in 1991. Many impressive streaks and records have fallen this year, demonstrating how good the program has been since 1976. Here are some...
- Through 30 matches, the Hornets’ 9-21 record is the worst mark in program history.
- Thirteen straight years of 20 victories will come to a close.
- Sacramento State will finish lower than second place in the conference standings for the first time since joining the Big Sky in 1996.
- Should the Hornets reach the Big Sky Tournament, the team would play a Big Sky Tournament quarterfinal match for the first time ever. The Hornets have received a first-round bye in the tournament each of the last 12 years by virtue of being one of the top two seeds.
- Prior to this year, the Hornets had never lost more than four conference matches in a season.
- The Hornets will post a losing record for just the third time in the last 33 years, and first since 1991.
- The Hornets lost two consecutive conference matches for the first time since 1999.
- Sacramento State lost back-to-back matches by 3-0 scores for the first time since 2005.
- The Hornets lost three straight home matches for the first time since 1992.
- Four home losses are the most since 1997.
- The Hornets could go the entire season without a Big Sky Player of the Week for the first time ever.
Sacramento State has two players among the Big Sky’s top five in double-doubles; senior setter Rose Burke is second with 13, and junior outside hitter Desiree Hoyum is fifth with 10...in last season’s Big Sky Tournament, the Hornets swept both Eastern Washington in the semifinals, and Portland State in the championship match...prior to Saturday’s match against Portland State, Hornet seniors Rose Burke, Brittany Ferguson and Katie Van Der Wende will be honored for their contributions to the program...in her last 10 matches, sophomore middle hitter Maddison Thivierge is averaging 2.38 kills per set and a .290 hitting percentage...freshman middle hitter Kelsey Elston has at least five blocks in six of her last eight matches, and is tied for fifth in the Big Sky with 1.09 blocks per set against conference competition...after posting double figures in kills in four straight matches, freshman outside hitter Eryn Kirby has failed to do so in four of her last five contests.