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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento State volleyball team, which returns eight players and a pair of starters from a year ago, will hit the court for its first official practice on Monday, Aug. 12.

Sixth-year head coach Ruben Volta will hold practices twice a day on weekdays from Aug. 12-28, before the team begins the 2013 season at the two-day, four-match La Salle Invitational in Philadelphia (Aug. 31-Sept. 1). One week prior to the tournament, the Hornets will host their annual Alumni Match at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24, at Colberg Court.

Among the squad's eight returners are senior rightside hitter Kayla Beal and senior setter Hannah Hettinga, who will serve as this year's team co-captains. Beal started all 30 matches last season and was a second team all-Big Sky Conference selection while Hettinga has appeared in 85 career matches and is ninth in school history with 1,571 assists.

Others players back for 2013 include senior middle blocker Chelcy Motes, senior setter Katie Aprile, junior rightside hitter Kiley Mansfield, sophomore defensive specialist Katelyn Ivy, and sophomore outside hitters Sloan Lovett and Lauren Aikels.

Last year's squad finished the season 12-18 overall and 8-12 in the Big Sky. The team won three straight, and five of its last eight matches before being eliminated from Big Sky Tournament contention on the final day of the regular season.

The season-opening tournament in Philadelphia will see the Hornets play both Bucknell and Lafayette on Saturday, Aug. 31, and Fairleigh Dickinson and host La Salle on Sunday, Sept. 1.

The following week, the Hornets return home to host the 11th annual Sacramento State Invitational (Sept. 6-7). The Hornets will take on Cal Poly, San Jose State and Central Connecticut during the tournament.

NOTES -- Five freshmen will be practicing with Sacramento State for the first time on Monday, comprised of middle blockers Courtney Dietrich and Kendall LaVine, outside hitter Morgan Stanley, setter Rachel Linden and defensive specialist Lexie Skalbeck…the Hornets will have new starters at both outside hitter positions, both middle blocker positions and libero…Motes did start eight matches at middle blocker last year…the Hornets, who have won 11 Big Sky Conference championships since joining the league in 1996, are just two victories shy of the 900th win in program history…since volleyball became a sport at Sacramento State, the program has compiled an 898-381 record (.702 winning percentage)…head coach Ruben Volta (1991-93, 1995) and assistant coaches Sarah Chlebana (1997-00) and Jason Borchin (2006-07) each played volleyball at Sacramento State…on the 2013 schedule are four opponent the Hornets will play for the first time in school history (Lafayette, La Salle, Fairleigh Dickinson and North Texas).

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