WITH A PLAYOFF SPOT ON THE LINE, VOLLEYBALL ENTERS FINAL WEEK OF THE REGULAR SEASON
Sacramento State celebrates the match-clinching point earlier this season against Portland State
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Sacramento State volleyball team enters the final week of the regular season with playoff implications on the line. The Hornets, who wrapped up their home portion of the schedule last week, will travel to Portland State (Nov. 19) and Eastern Washington (Nov. 20).
Sacramento State (15-15, 8-6) is currently tied for third place with Idaho State in the league standings, and Montana sits one game behind with a 7-7 record. The top four teams in the standings earn a spot into the Big Sky Tournament (Nov. 26-27), a place the Hornets have been 13 times in 14 years since joining the conference in 1996.
Portland State (13-2) and Northern Colorado (13-2) have already clinched spots in the tournament, making it a three-team race for the final two playoff spots between Idaho State, Sacramento State and Montana. The Hornets own the tiebreaker over the Grizzlies should the two teams finish with the same record, but do not own the tiebreaker against Idaho State.
Both Sacramento State and Idaho State will play their final two matches on the road while Montana plays its final two at home. One of those matchups features Montana hosting Idaho State on Saturday night.
If any of the following scenarios occur, Sacramento State clinches a spot in the Big Sky Tournament
• Sacramento State goes 2-0.
• Montana loses to Idaho State on Saturday.
• Montana goes 0-2.
• Montana loses to Weber State on Friday, and Sacramento State wins either of its two matches.
• If all three teams finish with an 8-8 or 9-7 record, here is the breakdown: Montana wins their match against Idaho State by a 3-0 score, Montana would get the No. 3 seed, Idaho State the No. 4 seed, and Sacramento State out. Montana wins the match against Idaho State by a 3-1 score, Idaho State would get the No. 3 seed, Montana the No. 4, and Sacramento State out. Montana wins the match against Idaho State by a 3-2 score, Idaho State would get the No. 3 seed, Sacramento State the No. 4, and Montana would be out.
The Hornets did not reach the league’s postseason event last season, snapping a streak of 13 straight years qualifying for the tournament. The Big Sky Tournament switched to a four-team format for the first time last season after it was a six-team format previously.
Sacramento State enters the final week playing arguably its best volleyball of the season. The Hornets not only swept Montana and Montana State last week, but they did it in convincing fashion. None of the six sets played were close as Sacramento State outscored both teams by a combined 39 points.
The Hornets finished the year with a 7-1 home record against conference competition, but are just 1-5 on the road. The team’s lone conference road win came at Weber State in five sets two weeks ago. Sacramento State is 3-8 on the road against all competition, including quality wins at Oregon State and UC Davis.
Portland State (18-8, 13-2), which is currently tied for first place with Northern Colorado, has a lot to play for on Friday night. Should the Vikings defeat the Hornets, Portland State would earn the No. 1 seed for this year’s tournament and gain the right to host next season’s tournament. Should Portland State lose to Sacramento State and Northern Colorado win at Northern Arizona on Saturday, the Bears would gain the No. 1 seed and the right to host next year’s tournament.
Portland State is 8-2 at home, including a perfect 7-0 record against Big Sky opposition. The Vikings have won six matches in a row overall, including a 3-2 win at Northern Colorado on Saturday. The Hornets dealt Portland State one of its two conference losses, a 3-1 win in Sacramento earlier this season. In fact, Sacramento State currently owns a 35-15 all-time record against Portland State in a series which dates back to 1979. That includes a 13-7 mark when the two teams play in Portland.
Eastern Washington (7-18, 6-9) has dropped three straight since losing its best player (middle hitter Chenoa Coviare) to a knee injury during the first play of its match against Portland State on Nov. 6. The Eagles are 5-2 at home against Big Sky competition, with their only losses coming to Northern Colorado and Portland State. The Hornets defeated Eastern Washington in four sets earlier this year in Sacramento (Oct. 1) and own a 27-12 all-time record against the Eagles. That includes a 9-8 record in Cheney.