VOLLEYBALL HOSTS MONTANA STATE AND MONTANA THIS WEEK
Preview Of The Week Ahead
Riding a three-match winning streak, the Sacramento State volleyball squad (12-9, 3-3) returns home for the first time since Sept. 25 when the team welcomes both Montana State and Montana to Colberg Court. The Hornets play Montana State on Friday, Oct. 16, and Montana the following day on Saturday, Oct. 17. Both contests will begin at 7 p.m.
Sacramento State played the first of two remaining non-conference matches on Tuesday, and defeated San Jose State, 3-2. That concluded a season-long five-match road trip, and the Hornets will now play seven of their final 11 regular season matches at home.
That stretch begins with Friday’s match against Montana State. The Hornets currently sit in fifth place in the nine-team Big Sky Conference, and jumped three spots in the standings with last week’s sweep of Idaho State and Weber State. Different from years past, only four teams qualify for this season’s Big Sky postseason tournament. If the Hornets want to keep their streak alive of reaching the Big Sky Tournament every year since joining the league in 1996, the team will need to jump at least one more spot in the standings, making Saturday’s match against Montana that much more important. Montana currently sits in the fourth spot with a 4-3 league mark.
Montana State will enter Friday night’s match with a 2-14 overall record and an 0-7 mark in the Big Sky. The Bobcats have lost eight straight, and are 0-5 on the road this season. Sacramento State is 31-5 all-time against Montana State, and has won 11 straight in the series dating back to 2004.
Montana will bring an 8-10 overall record and a 4-3 league mark into Saturday’s match. The Grizzlies are 1-6 on the road this season, and haven’t played away from home since Sept. 29. The team swept both Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado at home last week. The Hornets are 24-5 all-time against Montana, including an 11-2 mark in Sacramento.
After beginning the conference season with a 1-3 record, the Hornets were staring at a two-match road trip at Idaho State and Weber State last week. And Sacramento State responded in arguably its most important week of the season by defeating both teams by a combined 6-1 margin. That allowed the Hornets to jump three teams in the standings and move into fifth place.
Free Video Stream, Stats and Audio
Like every match against a Big Sky opponent (home or away) this season, free video stream will be offered via www.bigskytv.org for Friday and Saturday night’s match. In addition, live stats can be found at www.hornetsports.com. No audio will be provided for Friday’s match at Montana State because of a schedule conflict, but J.D. Fox will provide the play-by-play for Saturday’s match vs. Montana.
A Comparison To Last Season
The Hornets have made major strides compared to last season’s rebuilding team which finished the season with just a 10-23 record. In fact, Sacramento State, which still has 11 matches remaining on the regular season schedule, already has two more victories than all of last year. At this time last season, the Hornets were 6-15 compared to this year’s 12-9 record. Sacramento State has been better in nearly every statistical category, and below is a breakdown of this season’s averages compared to last year’s numbers at the same point in the season.
Digs: 2009 - 17.18 per set; 2008 - 14.33 per set
Kills: 2009 - 12.61 per set; 2008 - 11.66 per set
Blocks: 2009 - 2.02 per set; 2008 - 1.67 per set
Hitting percentage: 2009 - .188; 2008 - .168
Assists: 2009 - 11.92 per set; 2008 - 10.86 per set
Total Points: 2009 - 1,381; 2008 - 1,113
Serving Tough And Defense
Two of Sacramento State’s biggest strengths this year have been serving tough and playing good defense. The Hornets are currently first in the Big Sky in service aces (1.61 per set), digs (17.18 per set) and opponents hitting percentage (.173). The 17.18 digs per set are nearly three digs better than any other team in the Big Sky and is now the 18th best mark in the nation. In addition, the Hornets’ 137 aces are 45 more than the next closest Big Sky team (Portland State, 92).
By year’s end, first-year local product Janelle Currey could be the program’s most prolific Div. I freshman outside hitter. Currey, who is a full rotation outside hitter, has 270 kills (3.18 per set) and 278 digs (3.27 per set) thus far. On her current pace, Currey would finish the season with 410 kills and 422 digs, which would challenge or surpass the Hornet freshman outside hitter records since the program joined the Div. I ranks in 1991. Current Hornet assistant coach Sarah Chlebana owns the freshman record for kills when she had 427 (3.47) in 1997, and Carissa Buie owns the digs mark with 414 (3.37), set in 1995. Currey has been a big weapon all season and ranks among the Big Sky’s top nine players in five categories, including double-doubles (2nd with 13), aces (5th with 0.31 per set), points (6th with 3.68 per set), kills (7th with 3.18 per set) and digs (9th with 3.27 per set).
Senior Desiree Hoyum ranks among the Big Sky’s top five players in four categories, including first in double-doubles (14), second in kills (3.66 per set), third in points (4.13 per set) and fifth in digs (3.76 per set). She has led the team in kills in 11 matches, and has tallied double figures in kills in six straight and 15 matches this year. In addition, she has at least eight digs in every match and has failed to get double figures in that category just twice all year. Hoyum became a full-rotation outside hitter last season, and has vastly improved upon her numbers from 2008. This season’s averages of 3.66 kills, 3.76 digs and 0.28 aces per set is substantially better than last year’s totals of 2.91 kills, 2.83 digs and 0.10 aces per set.
If the season ended today, Breanne Menees’ conference-leading 4.62 digs pet set would rank as fifth best single-season mark in Sacramento State history...middle hitter Maddison Thivierge has hit at least .400 on seven occasions this year, and her .310 hitting percentage is fifth best in the Big Sky.