VOLLEYBALL LOOKS TO GRAB PLAYOFF SPOT IN FINAL WEEK OF REGULAR SEASON
Sacramento State Game Notes (17 pages) - pdf
The Week Ahead
Sacramento State (14-15, 9-9) enters the final week of the regular season with a potential Big Sky Conference Tournament berth at stake. The Hornets will play on the road at Montana State on Thursday, and at Montana on Saturday. Both matches will begin at 6 p.m. PST.
The top six teams in the 11-member Big Sky qualify for the league's postseason event, and Sacramento State controls its own destiny to get one of the coveted spots. The Hornets currently sit alone in sixth place in the standings, one game behind fifth-place Montana (10-8) and one game ahead of seventh-place Northern Colorado (8-10). Five teams have already clinched a berth, comprised of North Dakota, Portland State, Northern Arizona, Idaho State and Montana. The final spot will go to either Sacramento State or Northern Colorado depending on how this week's outcomes shake out. The Hornets could finish as high as fifth or as low as seventh.
The Big Sky Tournament will be played Nov. 29-30 in Portland, and the winner of the postseason event will receive the Big Sky's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
The Hornets completed their home portion of the schedule last week by splitting a pair of matches against Idaho State (L, 3-1) and Weber State (W, 3-0). Sacramento State went 7-3 at home against Big Sky competition, but is currently just 2-6 on the road against league teams.
Montana State will bring a 6-23 overall record and 4-14 conference mark into Thursday's matchup. The Hornets beat the Bobcats in four sets in Sacramento on Oct. 19, and MSU has lost nine of its last 10 matches. Sacramento State is 39-6 all-time against the Bobcats, including a 13-5 record when playing in Bozeman.
Montana (13-14, 10-8) has won two of its last three matches, including a win at Southern Utah last Saturday. The Grizzlies swept the Hornets in Sacramento earlier this season, and have won seven of the last 10 meetings between the schools. The Hornets still own a 27-11 all-time record against the Griz, including a 12-7 mark when playing in Missoula.
Like every match the remainder of the season, both Thursday and Saturday'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 the Montana State match can be found by clicking here, and the Montana match by clicking here.
Remaining Schedules For The Hornets, Grizzlies and Bears
Just two games separate Montana (10-8), Sacramento State (9-9) and Northern Colorado (8-10) in the standings. Although Montana has already clinched a spot in the Big Sky Tournament, the Hornets could still catch and pass the Grizzlies in the standings. All three teams have just two matches remaining on the schedule, and below are those matchups.
- Montana: Nov. 23 at home vs. Sacramento State; Nov. 25 on the road at Montana State.
- Sacramento State: Nov. 21 on the road at Montana State; Nov. 23 on the road at Montana.
- Northern Colorado: Nov. 21 at home vs. Southern Utah; Nov. 23 at home vs. Northern Arizona.
The Importance Of Winning The First Set
Sacramento State is 10-3 when it wins the first set of a match, and 4-12 when dropping the first set. In the team's last 11 matches, the Hornets are 4-0 when winning the first frame, and 1-6 when losing the opening set.
Hitting For A High Percentage
Sacramento State's .229 hitting percentage is the fourth best mark in the Big Sky Conference, and will be the team's highest percentage in six years at season's end. In addition, the Hornets have hit better than .226 just twice in the last 17 years (.235 in 2007; .230 in 2004). Should the Hornets finish with a hitting percentage better than .235, it would rank as the best mark 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.
Although Sacramento State has dramatically improved on offense, the defense has not been as stellar as years past. Since moving to the Div. I ranks in 1991, the Hornets have never finished a season below 1,692 digs. In fact, the program has finished below 2,000 digs just five times during the 22-year Div. I era. This season, the Hornets have 1,378 digs (12.88 per set) and are in danger of setting the new Div. I season low for digs.
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 4-10 in three-set matches, and 10-5 in any match that goes four or five sets…senior setter Hannah Hettinga (10.06 assists per set) remains on track to become the first Hornet to finish with at least 10 assists per set since Rose Burke accomplished the feat in 2007…sophomore outside hitter Sloan Lovett, who has battled an assortment of injuries over the past few weeks, has recorded double figures in kills once in the last five matches after a career-high streak of 10 consecutive matches with at least 10 kills…true freshman outside hitter Morgan Stanley has at least 10 kills in six of her last nine matches after doing so eight times during the first 20 matches of the season…after hitting a season-best .538 vs. Weber State on Saturday, freshman middle blocker Courtney Dietrich has tallied 13 matches where she's hit better than .300 and the Hornets are 9-4 in those matchups…freshman middle blocker Kendall LaVine has nine aces in 67 serve attempts, good for one ace every 7.4 serves, the best mark on the team…senior libero Katie Aprile is currently ninth in the Big Sky with an average of 3.54 digs per set…amazingly, middle blocker Chelcy Motes' .700 hitting percentage (7-0-10) against Weber State was not a season best, as she hit .833 (5-0-6) in the loss to Montana earlier this season…freshman DS Lexie Skalbeck moved into second place in the Big Sky with an average of 0.32 aces per set, and has a 33-to-24 ace-to-error ratio…senior rightside hitter Kayla Beal now ranks sixth in the Big Sky in points (3.76 pps) and eighth in kills (3.08 kps).