VOLLEYBALL CLOSES 2014 SEASON THIS WEEK AT HOME

VOLLEYBALL CLOSES 2014 SEASON THIS WEEK AT HOME

Sacramento State Game Notes (22 pages) - pdf
Big Sky Conference standings

The Week Ahead

    Sacramento State (7-22, 2-12) will play its final two matches of the season this week at home. The Hornets will attempt to play the roll of spoiler when they host Northern Arizona on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Southern Utah on Saturday at 7 p.m.
    The Hornets were officially eliminated from Big Sky Tournament contention last week when they lost on the road to both Weber State (3-2) and Idaho State (3-0). The top eight teams in the 12-member Big Sky qualify for the league's postseason event and the Hornets will not be one of those teams for just the fifth time since joining the conference in 1996.
    The outcomes of both Sacramento State matches this week could have a heavy impact on seedings for the Big Sky Tournament. In fact, Southern Utah is currently fighting for one of the final spots into the tournament and there is a chance the Thunderbirds' result on Saturday could put them in or out of the postseason. Northern Arizona sits in second place in the South Division and could finish anywhere from the No. 3 seed all the way down to the No. 5 seed depending on this week's outcomes. Idaho State has clinched the regular season title and will host the Big Sky Tournament Nov. 20-22.
    Usually the final home match of the season doubles as Senior Day, as programs honor and thank their seniors for contributions to the program. However, Sacramento State has zero seniors on the roster. The youngest team in the Big Sky, the Hornets have three juniors, five sophomores and a school-record eight freshmen.

Multimedia Options

Like every home match, and contests played at a Big Sky venue, fans can watch a free live video stream of both Thursday and Saturday's matches via WatchBigSky.com. Both contests this week will be streamed in HD. Users need to sign up for a free account through the website and video 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

    Northern Arizona will enter Thursday on a three-match winning streak after beating both Eastern Washington and Southern Utah last week at home. The Lumberjacks are currently 19-6 overall, 10-4 in the Big Sky, and have clinched no worse than the No. 5 seed at next week's Big Sky Tournament. The Lumberjacks, who swept the Hornets earlier this year in Flagstaff, are 5-5 on the road this season, including 3-3 against Big Sky opposition. Sacramento State is 31-13 all-time against the Lumberjacks, and has beaten NAU at home each of the last two years. In fact, the Hornets are 19-1 all-time when playing the Lumberjacks in Sacramento with the only loss coming in 2011.
    Southern Utah, which travels to Portland State on Thursday, enters the week with a 13-13 overall record and a 5-9 conference mark. The Thunderbirds are currently tied with Eastern Washington for the eighth and final spot into the Big Sky Tournament, and its likely one of those two teams will not qualify for the postseason event. Southern Utah dealt the Hornets their most heartbreaking loss of the season in a match in Cedar City on Sept. 25 in which Sacramento State squandered three match points in losing a 32-30 fourth set and eventually 15-13 in the fifth. The Hornets are 3-2 all-time against SUU, and have swept the T-Birds in convincing fashion in both meetings at Colberg Court.

Skalbeck Finishing Season On A High Note

Over the last three weeks, no one on Sacramento State's roster has been more consistent than sophomore libero Lexie Skalbeck. The Portland, Ore., native is averaging 4.71 digs per set over the last five matches and has posted at least 20 digs three times during that span. That includes a career-high 31 digs at Portland State, 22 digs vs. North Dakota and 20 digs in a three-set match at Idaho State. Skalbeck began her second stint this year as libero nine matches ago against Idaho, and has responded by posting at least 11 digs in all but one of those matches.

Looking For First Home Win

Sacramento State is currently 0-10 at home, including an 0-6 mark against Big Sky opponents. The Hornets have been close, as evidence by five-set losses on a number of occasions. Still, Sacramento State is 191-68 at home since joining the Big Sky Conference in 1996. That includes a 59-match regular season home winning streak against conference teams that lasted from 1999 until 2007.     

Hornets Secure 500th Div. I Victory

The win at Portland State on Nov. 1 allowed Sacramento State to secure its 500th win since joining the Div. I ranks prior to the 1991 season. The Hornets are 500-301 during the program's Div. I era, good a for a robust .624 winning percentage. 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. In fact, Sacramento State will finish with less than 10 wins for the first time since the 1976 squad went 9-8.

Youth On Display

Amazingly, when Lauren Kissell made her Hornet debut seven matches ago, it marked just the third upperclassman that has appeared in a match this season for Sacramento State. That's because the Hornets have just three upperclassmen on the entire roster (juniors Sloan Lovett and Lauren Aikels are the others), and zero seniors. In fact, of the 16 players on Sacramento State's roster, 10 are new to the program, including a school-record eight freshmen. Moreover, 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.

Hornet Notables

The Hornets remain third in the Big Sky with an average of 1.41 aces per set…junior OH Sloan Lovett has recorded double figures in kills in four straight matches and a team-high 18 times this year…sophomore MB Courtney Dietrich is averaging 1.69 blocks per set over the last three matches.