Matadors Defeat Rebels in Five to Claim UNLV Invitational Crown

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - After a disappointing loss earlier in the day, Cal State Northridge claimed its second straight tournament by turning back the host UNLV Rebels in five sets Saturday night at Cox Pavilion.

The Matadors (6-4), who went undefeated in capturing the Sacramento State Invitational last weekend, won two of their three matches in Las Vegas, two by the slimmest of margins.

Led by the MVP performance of freshman Casey Hinger, Northridge topped UNLV 23-25, 25-23, 25-16, 22-25, 16-14. Hinger had 15 kills against the Rebels while hitting .394 and adding four blocks and three digs. Sophomore Mahina Haina, who was also named to the All-Tournament team, matched Hinger with 15 kills (.268) while Britney Graff added 12 kills (.119) and Natalie Allen chipped in 11 kills (.122). Graff and Allen both completed double-doubles by adding 14 and 13 digs respectively.

Setter Sydney Gedryn was on the verge of a triple-double by recording 60 assists, nine digs and eight kills while leading the Matadors to a .237 hitting clip. Sam Kaul equaled Gedryn with her season-high eight kills (.368) and libero Cindy Ortiz had a team-high 20 digs.

The two teams traded 25-23 wins in the first two sets before the Matadors put themselves in the drivers seat with set three's 25-16 victory. The first three sets of the match combined for a total of 17 ties and only four lead changes, while the last two frames had 19 and seven, respectively.

In the fourth frame, UNLV led by as many as three points on three occasions, the final time at 25-22. The Matadors held a slim 11-10 lead before the Rebels regained the edge 12-11 on a pair of kills. The two teams then traded sideouts until 20-20, when UNLV took control winning five of seven points down the stretch for the 25-22 win.

The fifth and final set was a see-saw affair that had 10 ties and five lead changes. Northridge held the biggest lead of the set at 12-9 following a Rebel hitting error. But three straight UNLV points pulled the Rebels even at 12-12 and the set was tied three more times down the stretch, the final time at 14-14 when Haina's kill saved one match point and pulled CSUN even. Ensuing kills from Kaul and another from Haina handed the Matadors the 16-14 win and a 3-2 match win.


The Rebels were led by Madeline Westman's match-high 19 kills (.485) while three other UNLV hitters reached double figures.

Cal State Northridge plays one more match on the road, Monday at UCLA, before returning to The Matadome to host BYU next Saturday, Sept. 17.



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