VOLLEYBALL ON THE ROAD THIS WEEK, CLOSES IN ON POSSIBLE POSTSEASON SPOT
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The Week Ahead
After seeing its season-high tying four-match winning streak snapped on Saturday, Sacramento State (13-12, 8-6) returns to action for two more road matches over the next seven days. The first of which will come on Saturday evening against North Dakota at 5 p.m. PST, followed two days later at Northern Colorado on Monday at 6 p.m. PST.
The Hornets will play four of their final six matches of the regular season on the road before the Big Sky Tournament begins on Nov. 29 in Portland. The top six teams in the 11-member league qualify for the postseason event, and Sacramento State is currently tied for fifth in the standings with Montana. The Hornets sit three games ahead of Northern Colorado (5-9) and Eastern Washington (5-9), who are both fighting to catch Sacramento State and Montana for one of the final two spots into the tournament.
Sacramento State has already matched its conference win total from all of last year with a roster that has relied heavily upon underclassmen. In fact, the Hornets are starting a true freshman at outside hitter and middle blocker, and a sophomore at the other outside hitter spot.
North Dakota (18-8, 13-1), which sits comfortably atop the league standings, will host Northern Colorado on Friday before Saturday's matchup with the Hornets. UND defeated the Hornets earlier this year in four sets in Sacramento, and has lost just one match since Sept. 20. North Dakota has won three straight meetings vs. the Hornets and holds a 3-1 lead in the all-time series.
Northern Colorado (9-15, 5-9) has dropped three straight matches and will travel to North Dakota on Friday before hosting the Hornets on Monday. The Hornets defeated the Bears for just the second time in the last 13 meetings on Oct. 3 in Sacramento in five sets (15-13 in the 5th). UNC owns an 11-9 record in the all-time series, including six straight wins over the Hornets in Greeley.
Like every match the remainder of the season, both Saturday and Monday's contests can be viewed live and free on www.WatchBigSky.com. Viewers just need to create a user name and password through the website, and tune in about 10 minutes before the match begins. Live stats for Saturday's match are available by clicking here, and Monday's match by clicking here.
Hettinga Putting Together A Nice Season
Senior co-captain and setter Hannah Hettinga has improved her assists per set average every year of her career, culminating in this season's current mark of 10.14. She is attempting to become the first Sacramento State player to average at least 10 assists per set since Rose Burke accomplished the feat in 2007. Hettinga had recorded 40-plus assists in a career-high four straight matches prior to that streak being snapped in Saturday's loss at Northern Arizona. The Boise, Idaho, native has strung together a nice season thus far, averaging 10.14 assists, 2.22 digs and 0.48 kills per set while hitting a team-best .314.
Joining the 1,000 Kill Club
Senior rightside hitter Kayla Beal recently joined the 1,000 kills club, and now has 1,089 during her four-year career. In 111 career matches played, she has 1,089 kills and 387 total blocks, good for averages of 2.58 kills and 0.92 blocks per set. She is 40 blocks shy of cracking into Sacramento State's all-time top 10, and three blocks assists shy of the top 10 in that category. She currently has 261 kills this season after accumulating 253, 255 and 320, respectively, during her first three years.
The Underclassmen Combination At Outside Hitter
A pair of underclassmen in sophomore Sloan Lovett and freshman Morgan Stanley make up Sacramento State's two starting outside hitters. The pair has combined for 503 kills (5.83 kills per set) not to mention 51 aces and 320 digs. Lovett has been one of the best outside hitters in the conference, ranking among league leaders in three categories, including fourth in kills (3.34 kps) and aces (0.33 aps), and fifth in points (3.83 pps). She had posted double figures in kills in 10 straight matches until totalling nine on Saturday at Northern Arizona. Stanley has started all but one match as a true freshman and is a full rotation outside hitter. She has tallied double figures in kills 12 times and has six double-doubles. That includes a career-high 17 kills on three different occasions.
Hitting For A High Percentage
Sacramento State's .235 hitting percentage is the third best mark in the Big Sky Conference, and 77th in the nation among the 334 Div. I institutions. The Hornets have not hit better than .235 in a season since the 1995 squad hit for a .259 percentage. The team has already hit better than .300 on seven occasions this year after accomplishing the feat just twice all of last season. Currently, all six of the team's starters are hitting better than .210.
Youth Is Served
Of the team's current starting lineup, outside hitters Sloan Lovett and Morgan Stanley, middle blockers Chelcy Motes and Courtney Dietrich, setter Hannah Hettinga and rightside hitter Kayla Beal, three are underclassmen. That includes two true freshmen in Stanley and Dietrich and a sophomore in Lovett. A total of six underclassmen have started matches this year for Sacramento State, including four freshmen.
Sacramento State is 9-1 when hitting better than .220 in a match, and 4-11 when hitting .220 or below…the Hornets are 9-3 when winning the first set of a match, and 9-1 when winning the second set…senior setter Hannah Hettinga is the only Hornet to start all 25 matches…Sacramento State is 11-4 when rightside hitter Kayla Beal tallies double figures in kills, 10-2 when outside hitter Morgan Stanley has 10 or more kills, and 7-2 when middle blocker Courtney Dietrich accounts for six kills or higher…the team is 5-1 when libero Katie Aprile has 20 or more digs…defensive specialist Lexie Skalbeck has seven aces over her last three matches, and is now tied with Sloan Lovett for the team lead with 30 aces…the two are tied for fourth in the Big Sky with 0.33 aces per set…Beal has posted double figures in digs three times in the last four matches after doing so six times during the first 107 matches of her career…the Hornets have accumulated at least 10 team blocks six times in the last 10 matches after doing so just once during the first 15 matches of the season.