Volleyball turns to second half of season

The Sac State Womens Volleyball team rallies around each other before game at Colberg Court.

Lauren Gaughan

The Sac State Women’s Volleyball team rallies around each other before game at Colberg Court.

Joe Davis

The Sacramento State women’s volleyball team will look to put together the lessons learned in the first half of the season in order to improve as it heads into the second half of what has been a rough 2012 campaign.

The Hornets have struggled so far with a (2-7) record in the Big Sky conference. The record includes a six-game losing streak which was snapped on Oct. 6 against Weber State.

Part of Sac State’s woes was its inability to win on the road, which counted for five of six losses during the dismal streak.

The Hornets are on the road again and hope to use a strong home victory against Weber State and the return of senior co-captain Jessie Genger to the lineup as fuel to carry the team as it travels again.

“We are reaching a point here in our conference season where we need to get wins,” said head coach Ruben Volta. “We have not (earned wins) on the road yet and we need to get as many wins as possible so this is an important road trip.”

Sac State started this recent road stint with matches against Montana and Montana State. Hornets dropped the road opener to Montana on Friday (3-1), but a bright spot was Genger who had 16 kills in her first match back after missing the team’s last seven matchups.

“The next (conference) road games are important for us to get back into the mix of things,” Genger said. “I think that we are starting to play a lot better but I think that we will have to keep getting better.”

Saturday the Hornets will take on Portland State which is (8-1) in the Big Sky. Portland State knocked the Hornets out of the Big Sky tournament in 2011, ending Sac State’s bid for a spot in the NCAA tournament. Earlier this season on Sept. 15, Sac State fell to the Big Sky powerhouse in a five-set slugfest.

The final match of the five-game roadie will end with Eastern Washington. Sac State handled the Eagles in the Big Sky Conference opener by taking them out in three sets.

Eastern Washington has struggled mightily this season with an (0-9) conference record and is (0-20) overall.

“Playing on the road should not hurt the team because we should always be playing our best no matter what,” said junior setter Katie Aprile. “(However), losing on the road back to back always puts a dent in the team.”

Sac State’s schedule has been road heavy to start conference play. Out of the first 13 Big Sky matches the Hornets have been scheduled to play nine on the road.

The Hornets are currently eighth in the conference. If they can finish strong on the current road stint and play well to finish the season in their home-heavy last half the team could lock-up a top-six spot in the Big Sky. The top six teams advance to the conference tournament at season’s end and have a shot to play in the NCAA tournament.

“One of our goals at the beginning of the season was to win the Big Sky,” Genger said. “I am sure (now) a lot of teams would have to lose in order for us to do that so we just keep taking it one game at a time and we cannot worry about what other teams are doing.”

Joe Davis can be reached at [email protected]