Allen, Haina Pace Matadors to Big West Sweep Over UC Riverside

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Natalie Allen and Mahina Haina combined for 25 of Cal State Northridge's 46 kills as the Matadors opened Big West Conference play with a 27-25, 25-16, 25-20 win Saturday at UCR's Student Rec Center.

CSUN (7-6, 1-0 Big West) opens the conference season with a win for the first time since 2007 and posts its first straight set win since sweeping Fresno State on Sept. 3.

Haina, who has been the Matadors' main offensive threat all season, got some help from her fellow sophomore on Saturday as Allen matched her season-high with 12 kills and hit a season-best .360 in 25 swings. Allen added 10 digs for her sixth double-double of the season. Haina was equally impressive as she tallied a match-high 13 kills while hitting .393 in 28 attacks.

"Mahi was aggressive to the ball and when we got some of the matchups we wanted, Sydney was able to take advantage of that and get her the ball," said head coach Jeff Stork. "Nat has great vision and has a variety of shots, the encouraging thing is that she, and the team, can do a whole lot better."

Gedryn also notched a double-double with 38 assists and 10 digs while leading the Matadors to a .240 hitting clip. Libero Cindy Ortiz had a team-high 13 digs while Monica McFarland also had double figures with 10 digs in the win.

In what turned out to be a pivotal opening set, the Matadors overcame some shaky hitting early on to pull within 13-12 on a Haina kill. The CSUN deficit stayed at one (16-15) following a triple block from Allen, Britney Graff, Sam Kaul before an Allen kill knotted the set 18-18. The teams then traded sideouts until back-to-back Haina kills gave the Matadors their first lead 22-21.

But the Highlanders wrestled back the lead 24-23 following an Allen hitting error but UCR could not convert a pair of set points as the Highlanders committed service errors each time. Following the second, Graff put down successive kills and the Matadors grabbed the momentum with the 27-25 win.

Looking the build on their set one victory, the Matadors used a Graff-Kaul co-block to open up a four-point edge (8-4) in set two forcing UCR into its first timeout. Another block, this time from Allen and Kaul put the Matadors up 9-4 and Northridge would never look back cruising to the 25-16 win.

With the score tied 18-18 in the final set, the Matadors took advantage of a pair of UCR hitting errors, sandwiched around a Haina kill to open up a 21-18 cushion. The Highlanders would get within two at 21-19 and 22-20 before kills from Casey Hinger and Gedryn along with a Kaul-Gedryn block sealed the win 25-20.

"We controlled most of the match tonight," said Stork. "We made too many errors early on but then really turned it on. The second set we did a whole lot better and then produced points as the match went on."

Amanda Vialpando had eight kills but hit just .077 to lead UCR while Shelby LeDuff added seven kills and 12 digs.

Cal State Northridge returns to The Matadome next Friday, Sept. 30 as the Matadors open up a two-match homestand against No. 21 Long Beach State at 7 p.m.

- GO MATADORS -