Sac State volleyball starts Big Sky Conference play Thursday

Satchi Hover

Coming off five consecutive losses, Sacramento State women’s volleyball team will look to right the ship as it begins Big Sky Conference play this week.

After starting the 2013 campaign 4-0 record (their best start since 1995), the Hornets have gone 1-6 in their last seven matches, including a three match sweep at the Boise Volleyball Classic in Boise, Idaho last weekend.

The team was without senior right-side hitter and co-captain Kayla Beal, who was sidelined the entire tournament with a back injury.

Head coach Ruben Volta had to experiment with different lineups as a result of the setback.

“It was a bit of a last minute thing we found out about, so we just didn’t have a chance to practice with people in different positions,” Volta said. “We tried several different lineups this past weekend and it left us with a bunch of areas to get better at.”

Despite the struggles over the weekend,Volta said the team is ready to move forward as it prepares for conference opponents.

“The idea of playing in conference always gets everyone excited,” Volta said.

“We feel like it’s the real start of the season, and we’ve tried to iron some kinks out and I think we have what we’re looking for in terms of what we want to put on the floor.”

The Hornets will be looking to capture their first Big Sky Conference title since the 2007 season when they finished the year with a 13-3 record in conference play and an overall record of 29-8.      

Volta understands the importance of winning conference matchups and gaining the upperhand in the division.

“It’s our goal to move forward in the conference and be at the top of conference and get in the conference tournament,” Volta said.

Sac State’s 5-6 nonconference record is good for third place. Big Sky Conference teams are a combined 41-72 at this point in the season.

Last season saw Portland State hoisting the Big Sky Championship trophy after compiling a conference record of 17-3.

Pre-season rankings for 2013 Big Sky Conference are as follows: Northern Arizona (6-3),  Idaho State (6-5), Sacramento State (5-6), Northern Colorado (4-5), North Dakota (4-6), Montana (3-6), Weber State (4-9), Portland State (3-7), Eastern Washington (3-8), Montana State (2-9), and Southern Utah (1-8).

Players who Sac State fans will want to keep an eye out for include senior setter Hannah Hettinga, and sophomore outside hitter Sloan Lovett.

Hettinga currently ranks first in the conference with five double doubles while Lovett was named the conference player of the week for the week of Sept. 2.  

The Hornets will start their Big Sky run when they hit the road to square off against Eastern Washington Thursday night.