VOLLEYBALL BEGINS HOMESTAND THURSDAY VS. IDAHO STATE

VOLLEYBALL BEGINS HOMESTAND THURSDAY VS. IDAHO STATE

Sacramento State Game Notes (21 pages) - pdf

The Week Ahead

    Sacramento State (5-12, 0-2) begins a season-long four-match homestand this week while also playing its first Big Conference home match of the year. The homestand begins on Thursday when the Hornets host Idaho State at 7 p.m., followed by a Saturday afternoon (1 p.m.) tilt against Weber State. Saturday's match is part of a Hornet athletics home triple-header that will see the men's soccer team play on campus at 3 p.m. followed by football playing at 6 p.m.
    The Hornets opened Big Sky play last week with road losses to Southern Utah (3-2) and Northern Arizona (3-0). The loss to Southern Utah was especially heartbreaking as Sacramento State had three match points in the fourth set but could not convert any of those opportunities. The Hornets eventually lost the fourth set, 32-30, followed by a 15-13 loss in the fifth.
    Sacramento State has lost seven of its last eight matches, which includes a pair of five-set defeats to UC Davis and Southern Utah. The Hornets played just one home match during that stretch, and have played just once inside the friendly confines in the last month. That will all change now as the Hornets will play four straight and eight of their final 14 matches of the regular season at Colberg Court.
    Speaking of Colberg Court, the floor will feature a brand new sport court that will make its debut Thursday against Idaho State. Sacramento State will look to avoid its first 0-3 record in Big Sky play since joining the league in 1996. The Hornets have began Big Sky play 0-2 three times previously, but responded with a win in the third match each time.

Multimedia Options
Like every match the rest of the season, fans will be able to watch a free live video stream on both Thursday and Saturday via WatchBigSky.com. All home matches will be streamed in HD, but most road matches will be streamed in SD. Users just need to sign up for a free account through the website and video the remainder of the season is free. Links for all multimedia options (video, audio, live stats) can be accessed on the volleyball schedule at www.hornetsports.com.

A Look At This Week's Opponents
    Idaho State will bring an 8-7 overall record, a 2-0 conference mark and a five-match winning streak into Thursday's matchup. The Bengals opened conference play last week by sweeping both Montana State and Weber State at home. ISU has played just four matches on the road this season, and is 1-3 in those contests with the lone win coming at Utah Valley. The Bengals, who are the defending Big Sky Tournament champions, have defeated the Hornets five straight times dating back to 2011, the longest current winning streak over Sacramento State by any league opponent. Still, the Hornets are 27-10 all-time against the Bengals, including 14-4 when playing in Sacramento.
    Weber State, which will play at Portland State on Thursday, brings a 3-12 overall record and 0-2 Big Sky mark into the week. The Wildcats have dropped four in a row, including a five-set home loss to Montana and three-set road loss to Idaho State last week. The Wildcats are 1-4 on the road. Sacramento State is 31-8 all-time against Weber State, and has won each of the last eight meetings dating back to 2010. The Hornets are 17-2 against the Wildcats at home, including four straight wins when playing inside the friendly confines.

500th Div. I Victory Within Reach
Sacramento State is just two wins shy of its 500th victory since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991. The Hornets are 498-291 (.631 winning percentage) in Div. I play, and 918-409 (.692) overall. Arguably the most storied program in Sacramento State athletics history, the volleyball team has accounted for two national championships, 20 NCAA Tournament appearances, 27 All-Americans, 18 conference championships and 10 NCAA Div. I Tournament appearances. That includes a streak of 11 straight Big Sky titles from 1997-07.

Success In Big Sky Home Openers
Since joining the Big Sky Conference in 1996, Sacramento State is 15-2 when playing its first home conference match of the season. In fact, the only two years the Hornets failed to win their Big Sky home opener came in 1996 and 2011. Under head coach Ruben Volta, Sacramento State is 5-1 in its first Big Sky home match of the year.

First Set Blues
The Hornets need to do a better job of starting matches as the team has lost the first set in 14 of 17 matches this year. Of the team's five victories this season, four have come after dropping the first set. By comparison, Sacramento State won four matches all of last season after losing the first set.

As Young As A Roster Could Get
Of the 16 players on Sacramento State's roster, 10 are new to the program, including a school-record eight freshmen. Moreover, the roster includes no seniors, and of the squad's 16 players, only three are upperclassmen in junior outside hitters Lauren Aikels, Lauren Kissell and team captain Sloan Lovett. The six returning players are comprised of two juniors and four sophomores. In fact, on a number of occasions this year, the Hornets have used a lineup consisting of all underclassmen.

Career Night For Lovett
Although Sacramento State lost in five sets last Thursday to Southern Utah, junior outside hitter and team captain Sloan Lovett had a career night. Still nursing a tender ankle that kept her out of two matches just two weeks ago, Lovett posted career highs in kills (27), attacks (70), points (31.5) and blocks (5) against Southern Utah. The 27 kills easily eclipsed her previous career high of 22, set on two occasions. Though still very early in the conference season, Lovett leads the Big Sky in kills per set in league matches at 4.50.

Hornet Notables
The Hornets are 3-1 when Lexie Skalbeck has at least 17 digs in a match…in conference play, libero Brigitte Murdock is third in the league with 4.62 digs per set…Sloan Lovett's 4.50 kills per set against league opposition easily leads the league, with the next closest player sitting at 4.12.