BIG SLATE OF HOME MATCHES FOR VOLLEYBALL THIS WEEK
Preview Of The Week Ahead
With just three weeks and six matches remaining on Sacramento State’s regular season schedule, the Hornets (15-11, 5-5) embark upon a crucial set of home matches this week against Weber State (Friday, Nov. 6, 7 p.m.) and Idaho State (Saturday, Nov. 7, 7 p.m.). Sacramento State currently sits in fifth place in the conference standings, just a half game back of fourth-place Montana (6-5) and two games behind third-place Eastern Washington (9-3).
The top four teams in the nine-member Big Sky Conference reach the league’s postseason tournament (Nov. 27-28), and Sacramento State is looking to reach the tourney for the 14th consecutive season, and every year since joining the league in 1996. To reach the tournament, the Hornets have some ground to make up, as Montana, which currently holds onto the fourth and final spot, sits a half game ahead of Sacramento State and owns the tiebreaker between the two teams. Helping the Hornets’ cause is four of the team’s final six matches will come at home, beginning with this week’s contests.
Weber State will enter Friday night’s match with a 5-19 overall record and 3-9 mark in the conference. The Wildcats have dropped four straight, and are 1-8 on the road this season. Sacramento State defeated Weber State, 3-1, earlier this year in Ogden, and now own a 23-7 advantage in the all-time series between the two teams. That includes a 13-1 mark when playing at Colberg Court.
Idaho State will enter Saturday night’s matchup with a 10-14 overall record and 4-8 mark in the Big Sky. The Bengals are 3-4 on the road against Big Sky opponents, including wins against Northern Arizona, Montana and Montana State. The Hornets defeated the Bengals, 3-0, earlier this season in Pocatello, and own a 25-3 record in the all-time series between the two teams. That includes a perfect 13-0 record when playing in Sacramento.
Sacramento State, which was idle from Big Sky Conference play, swept Pacific at home last Tuesday in what will be the team’s final non-conference match of the regular season. Pacific had entered the contest with a 15-5 record until the Hornets won by scores of 25-21, 25-23, 25-21. The Hornets dealt the Tigers their first three-set loss of the season and Pacific had entered the matchup with just one non-conference loss all season long. By the time the Hornets host Weber State on Friday night, Sacramento State will have gone nine days without playing a match.
Free Video Stream, Stats and Audio
Like every match (home or away) the remainder of the season, free video stream of both contests this week will be offered to fans via www.bigskytv.org. In addition, live stats and live audio can be found at www.hornetsports.com. J.D. Fox will handle the play-by-play announcing for both Friday and Saturday night’s matches.
13-6 Over The Last 19
After getting off to a slow start and beginning the season with a 2-5 record, Sacramento State has played well over the last seven weeks. Since Sept. 12, the Hornets are 13-6, which includes three winning streaks of at least three matches long.
What Happened To The Five Set Matches?
After seven of the Hornets’ first 10 matches of the season went to five sets, Sacramento State has played into the fifth set just once in its last 16 contests. The Hornets are 4-4 in five setters, which included a brutal stretch of four straight 3-2 losses over a one-week span to Syracuse, Cal State Bakersfield, UC Riverside and Santa Clara, respectively. The Hornets have won each of their last three five-set outcomes over Fresno State (Sept. 12), UC Davis (Sept. 15) and San Jose State (Oct. 13).
Making Big Strides
In Ruben Volta’s first season as head coach in 2008, he guided the Hornets through a major rebuilding phase that saw the squad lose both starting outside hitters, both starting middle hitters and the starting libero from the previous year. That 2008 squad struggled to a 10-23 overall record. The team has made major strides in 2009, and has already posted five more victories (15-11) than all of last season. The Hornets have vastly improved in nearly every statistical category and have records above .500 at home (7-6), on the road (5-4) and at neutral sites (3-1). Comparatively speaking, the Hornets went 4-18 away from home last season.
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 digs (17.13 per set) and service aces (1.61 per set), marks which rank the team 20th and 41st in the nation in those two categories, respectively. In fact, the next closest Big Sky team to the Hornets in terms of digs per set is Idaho State, who averages 2.14 digs less (14.99). Sacramento State already has 164 aces this year, which are 39 more than the next closest Big Sky team (Idaho State with 125). In addition, the Hornets have limited the opposition to a .183 hitting percentage, which is the third best mark in the conference.
Hoyum And Currey Combination
Sacramento State’s outside hitter combination of senior Desiree Hoyum (16) and freshman Janelle Currey (15) rank first and second, respectively, in the Big Sky in double-doubles (kills and digs). In addition, both rank among the Big Sky’s top nine players in kills, digs and points. Hoyum (3.57 kps, 3.71 dps, 4.02 pps) and Currey (3.14 kps, 3.26 dps, 3.63 pps) have combined for 684 of the team’s 1,311 kills this year, or 52 percent of the team’s offensive production. Currey is on pace to challenge or surpass the Hornet Div. I freshman outside hitter records for kills and digs, and Hoyum has led the Hornets in kills in over half the team’s matches thus far (14 times).
Including a career-high 18 kills and .571 hitting percentage at Northern Arizona, middle hitter Kelsey Elston is hitting .458 while averaging 2.13 kills per set over her last three matches...Eryn Kirby, who has become the Hornets’ primary rightside hitter, has combined for 35 of her 106 kills over the last four matches. That includes 11 kills vs. both Montana and Pacific...libero Breanne Menees, who is now second in the Big Sky with 4.50 digs per set, fell from the conference’s top spot in digs for the first time since the opening weeks of the season.