VOLLEYBALL PLAYS FINAL TWO HOME MATCHES THIS WEEK AGAINST THE MONTANA SCHOOLS
Sophomore Hannah Hettinga has four double-doubles, the third best mark on the team
The Sacramento State volleyball team (14-13, 7-5) will play its final two home matches of the season this week against Montana State (Thursday at 7 p.m.) and Montana (Saturday at 1 p.m.). This week’s matches are two of just four remaining regular-season contests for the Hornets as the team will play next week on the road against Eastern Washington and Portland State.
Sacramento State finds itself all alone in fourth place in the Big Sky standings with two weeks to play. The top four teams in the nine-member conference qualify for the Big Sky Tournament, which will be played Nov. 25-26 in Portland. The Hornets have not advanced to the Big Sky’s postseason event since 2008, and if the season ended today, Sacramento State would be the No. 4 seed and take on No. 1 seed Northern Colorado in the semifinals of the event.
However, there is still a lot of volleyball to be played as the Hornets are behind Northern Colorado (10-3), Portland State (10-4) and Eastern Washington (9-5). More importantly, Sacramento State will need to stay ahead of three teams furiously trying to move up into the fourth spot in the league standings. Idaho State (6-6), Northern Arizona (6-7) and Montana (6-7) are all within 1.5 games of Sacramento State, making this week’s matches huge for Big Sky Tournament implications.
Should the Hornets finish the regular season in a tie with either of the three teams on their tale, they would hold the tiebreaker against Idaho State, but not against Northern Arizona. Montana currently holds the tiebreaker over Sacramento State, but that could change based on the outcome of Saturday afternoon’s matchup. Sacramento State currently holds the tiebreaker with each of the top three teams in the conference standings.
Always a threat to make a run when qualifying for the postseason, the Hornets won nine Big Sky Tournament crowns over an 11-year span (1997-98, 2000, 2002-07).
Sacramento State has dropped three of its last four matches heading into the week, including a gut-wrenching 3-2 home loss to Idaho State on Saturday night (15-13 in the fifth set). Prior to that loss, the Hornets had won five straight at home, which included sweeping four straight conference foes on Colberg Court.
Montana State will enter Thursday night’s matchup with a 3-21 overall record and a 2-11 conference mark. The Bobcats have dropped five straight after sweeping Seattle in a non-conference home match on Oct. 16. The Hornets swept the Bobcats earlier this year in Bozeman, which included a 26-24 victory in the third set. Sacramento State is 35-6 all-time against Montana State, and has won 15 of the last 16 meetings between the two schools. The Hornets are 19-1 when playing the Bobcats at home, and have won 17 straight on the home floor agianst MSU. Montana State’s only win in Sacramento came in a five setter in 1997.
Montana does not play until Saturday’s matinee, and will bring a 9-12 overall record and a 6-7 conference mark into that match. The Grizzlies are 2-5 on the road against conference foes this season, scoring victories at Montana State and Weber State. Montana defeated Sacramento State, 3-1, earlier this season in Missoula, and the Grizzlies will be playing their final regular-season road match of the season on Saturday. The Hornets own a 25-9 record in the all-time series, but the Grizzlies have won five of the last six matchups. Sacramento State is 12-3 when playing Montana inside the friendly confines.
Sacramento State vs. Montana State
Thursday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m.
Colberg Court - Sacramento, Calif.
Coverage: Live Video, Live Audio, Live Stats
Series Record: Hornets Lead, 35-6
Series in Sacramento: Hornets Lead, 19-1
Last Meeting: W, 3-0, in Bozeman (10/15/11)
Sacramento State vs. Montana
Saturday, Nov. 12, at 1 p.m.
Colberg Court - Sacramento, Calif.
Coverage: Live Video, Live Stats
Series Record: Hornets Lead, 25-9
Series in Sacramento: Hornets Lead, 12-3
Last Meeting: L, 3-1, in Missoula (10/14/11)
SENIOR DAY ON SATURDAY -- Sacramento State will honor its five active seniors prior to Saturday’s match as each will be playing in their final collegiate contest inside The Nest. Each of the five players has played a major role with the Hornets over the years, comprised of sixth-year senior Anna Schoener, fifth-year senior Maddison Thivierge, and fourth-year seniors Kelsey Elston, Eryn Kirby and Breanne Menees. Four of those five seniors are starters. Below are brief capsules on each player.
Kelsey Elston - Has missed just two matches in her career, starting 119 of the 122 matches in which she has appeared…Elston has started all 27 matches this year and will likely garner some form of all-conference accolade at the end of the year…against Big Sky competition this year, she ranks third in the league in blocks (1.19 per set), fourth in hitting percentage (.298) and tied for fifth in service aces (0.28 per set)…her 448 total blocks are the ninth most in school history.
Eryn Kirby - Has missed just two matches in her career, having played in 122 matches including 95 starts…has started all 59 of the Hornets’ matches over the last two years…currently has 1,066 career kills, which is the 16th best mark in school history…was an honorable mention all-conference performer last season and will likely garner all-league recognition again this year…against Big Sky competition, she currently ranks third in the league in points (3.82 per set) and fifth in kills (3.26 per set)…leads the Hornets in kills (310) and total attacks (1,056) this season.
Breanne Menees - After spending her freshman season (2008) as a defensive specialist, Menees has appeared in 91 straight matches as the team’s libero over the last three years…has 1,829 career digs, which is the third best mark in school history, and need just 71 more to move into the No. 2 spot…currently leads the Big Sky and ranks 26th in the nation with an average of 5.31 digs per set…was an honorable mention all-conference performer last season after leading the league and ranking 27th in the nation with 5.20 digs per set.
Anna Schoener - One of the toughest players in school history, Schoener received medical hardships after suffering a shoulder injury that forced her to miss the 2007 season and a knee injury that saw her miss the 2008 season…bounced back from the injuries to become a major contributor over the last three years…has been asked to play rightside hitter, middle blocker and setter during her Hornet career…became a setter last year after never playing the position in her life, and now has 1,079 career assists which ranks as the 10th best mark in school history…has played in 125 career matches.
Maddison Thivierge - Has appeared in 113 career matches, including 93 starts during her career…missed last season with a knee injury, and has bounced back to start 20 matches at middle blocker for the Hornets this season…an honorable mention all-Big Sky performer as a junior in 2009…this season, against conference opposition, she ranks second in the Big Sky with 1.33 blocks per set…has at least five blocks in seven of her last eight matches…has accounted for 898 points during her career, and has started 85 matches over her last three active seasons.
BIG SKY SUCCESS -- Since joining the Big Sky Conference in 1996, the Hornets are a staggering 181-58 against the league, which amounts to a .757 winning percentage. That includes a run of 11 consecutive Big Sky regular season and/or tournament championships spanning 1997-07. The Hornets have accounted for eight regular season titles (1997-01, 2005-07) and nine conference tournament crowns (1997-98, 2000, 2002-07).
WINNING WITH DEFENSE -- Sacramento State remains the only team in the nation to rank among the top 20 in both digs and blocks per set. Among national leaders, the Hornets’ average of 17.87 digs per set is the 18th best mark, and the team’s 2.76 blocks per set is the 16th best mark. Its no secret that Sacramento State will usually win its matches with defense as the team is limiting Big Sky opponents to a .131 hitting percentage, easily the best mark in the conference. Defense has been a long-standing tradition at Sacramento State as the Hornets have ranked among the nation’s top 25 teams in digs per set 11 times in the last 16 years.
SERVING TOUGH -- In conference play, Sacramento State has recorded 70 aces (compared to just 46 for the opposition), and is the top team in the league with an average of 1.49 aces per set. The Hornets currently have three players ranking among the conference’s top five in aces per set, comprised of Janelle Currey (T-4th, 0.28), Sydney Kordic (T-4th, 0.28) and Kelsey Elston (T-4th, 0.28). Kordic has recorded at least one ace in 10 of the last 12 matches.
.165 IS THE MARK -- The Hornets are 13-1 when limiting the opposition to a hitting percentage below .165, and 1-12 when the opposition hits .165 or better.