Sac State athletes react to Big Sky Conference 2020-21 schedule changes

Big Sky teams adjust to new matchup formats and COVID-19 precautions


Sara Nevis

Sacramento State’s Samaad Hector (0) goes up strong to make the layup during the second half in the conference opener in the game against the University of Idaho at The Nest at Sac State Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Hector said the schedule changes up the competitive ante on the court.

Katerina Graziosi

With an unprecedented sports season due to COVID-19, Sacramento State athletes are adjusting to Big Sky Conference schedule changes made to minimize travel and risk of exposure in the 2020-21 season.

RELATED: Athletes required to test for COVID-19 three times a week

The Big Sky Conference released adjusted schedules for winter and spring sports that affect men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and women’s soccer. 

Men’s basketball 

The Big Sky Conference announced changes to men’s and women’s basketball schedules Oct. 15.

In the 11-week season, both the men’s and women’s teams play the same conference opponent twice per week with matches scheduled Thursdays and Saturdays. 

The Sac State men’s basketball team’s season began Nov. 25, with games scheduled through March 6.

RELATED: Sac State men’s basketball defeats Idaho Vandals 73-57 in morning showdown

Junior guard Brandon Dante-Davis, a communications major, said the schedule changes will allow the Hornets to get to know their opponents well.

“We need to be a lot more locked in when it comes to conference play because we’ll be playing the same opponent back-to-back,” Dante-Davis said. “Usually we have a game against one [team] and then we get ready for another team, but this will allow us to be more prepared for both games.”

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Sac State’s Brandon Davis (11) celebrates on the sideline after Bryce Fowler (23) dunks the ball during the second half in the game against Bethesda University at The Nest at Sac State Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. (Sara Nevis)

Junior forward Samaad Hector, a criminal justice major, said the schedule changes require the Hornets to make a quick turnaround and address any mistakes in play quickly.

“If, hypothetically speaking, you lose a game, you really don’t want to see that team two days later,” Hector said. “It’s going to be hard to always have to win two [games] straight versus one team.”

Despite the challenges, Dante-Davis said he is looking forward to the 2020-21 season.

“I think we have a good group and I’m just excited to play against somebody other than ourselves,” Dante-Davis said.

Women’s basketball

The Sac State women’s basketball team had its first game of the season Nov. 4, and is scheduled to play through March 5.

RELATED: Sac State women’s basketball short-handed crew loses second matchup against Nevada

Senior guard Kennedy Burks, a communications major, said the adjusted schedule has limited the team’s time to prepare for the season.

“Usually we start practicing and getting to know each other in the summer, but since COVID happened we couldn’t meet,” Burks said. “That kicked back two months of preparation and lifting and getting stronger, so now we have to just put in extra work.”

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Sac State junior guard Kennedy Burks (right) and Eastern Washington sophomore guard Grace Kirscher (left) watch a free throw attempt at the Nest on Feb. 20. Burks said the team has little time to devise a new strategy against the same opponent. (Luis Platero)

Sophomore guard Jordan Olivares said another adjustment will be playing with no fans.

“Everybody’s used to playing with fans,” Olivares said, adding that she will miss the energy fans give the team. “It’s going to be so weird and different now that it’s just quiet.”


The Big Sky Conference released schedule changes for the 2021 volleyball season Nov. 5. The nine-week season consists of back-to-back games Sundays and Mondays with teams facing the same opponent twice.

The first match is scheduled for Jan. 24, with games scheduled through March 22.

RELATED: Sac State volleyball practicing indoors ahead of scheduled spring season

Senior outside hitter Macey Hayden, a criminal justice major, pointed out the new schedule eliminates a pre-season for the team. Hayden also talked about staying fit over the break.

“[It’s a] responsibility to yourself and responsibility to your team that when we get back after this break we can go hard the very first day,” Hayden said.

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The women’s volleyball team practices at Yosemite Hall at Sacramento State Oct. 21, 2020. The 2021 volleyball season will be nine weeks and consist of back-to-back games on Sundays and Mondays with teams facing the same opponent twice. (Sara Nevis)

Junior outside hitter Claudia Wilson, a communication studies major, said COVID-19 precautions have changed some aspects of play.  

“When we start playing in games, instead of switching sides [in between sets], we’re just staying on our one side so we won’t be touching the same bench,” Wilson said. 

Hayden said the challenges posed by COVID-19 have also united the team.

“I think it’s really improved our communication,” Hayden said. “I do feel closer to my team now that we’re worrying more about each other’s health and more about what we’re doing on a daily basis.”

Women’s soccer

The Big Sky Conference released a revised spring 2021 women’s soccer schedule Nov. 5. The season will be played in a round-robin format, with each team facing nine conference opponents once. Games are scheduled starting March 12 through April 11.

Sophomore forward Sedona Robinson, a health science major, said women’s soccer is primarily a fall sport with an offseason in the spring.

“Our season got pushed to spring,” Robinson said. “If we do have a normal season again starting in the fall we’ll be playing back-to-back seasons.”

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Members of the Sac State women’s soccer team jog up the field against Cal Baptist on Sept. 8, 2020 at Hornet Field. The women’s soccer season has been pushed to spring 2021. (Ian Edwards)

Details on the full 2021 women’s soccer season are yet to be announced, according to the Hornet Sports website.

Robinson said she is looking forward to playing again despite the changes.

“Once the season was confirmed, the energy changed because we have something to look forward to,” Robinson said. “Finally a sense of good news came.”