Road Tests at Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State Await Matadors This Week

Match #21 (Big West Match #9):

Northridge Matadors (10-10, 4-4 Big West) at Cal State Fullerton Titans (9-12-6, 4-5 Big West) 

Friday, Oct. 28, 2011 - 7 p.m. PDT
Titan Gym (4,000) - Fullerton, Calif.
Streaming Video: BigWest.TV
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors

Matador Weekly Match Notes (PDF)

Match #22 (Big West Match #10):

Northridge Matadors (10-10, 4-4 Big West) at Long Beach State 49ers (14-6, 8-2 Big West) 

Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011 - 7 p.m. PDT
Walter Pyramid (4,200) - Long Beach, Calif.
Streaming Video: BigWest.TV
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors


Following an unbeaten two-match homestand, Cal State Northridge (10-10, 4-4 Big West) heads back on the road for four of its next six matches beginning Friday at defending Big West champion Cal State Fullerton (9-12, 4-5 Big West). The Matadors, 3-5 on the road this season, conclude the week with a Saturday match conference-leading Long Beach State (14-6, 8-2 Big West) which defeated CSUN in four sets on Sept. 30 in The Matadome.


All Matador home matches and conference road matches will be featured as part of the Big West live streaming package. The Long Beach State match this week will also feature live stats at The Big West Conference and the CBS College Sports Network are partnering to bring fans exclusive coverage of Big West sports, press conferences, interviews and features into your home via the Internet. Now in its seventh year, BigWest.TV covers every home and conference contest in women's volleyball. 


Mahina Haina and Casey Hinger combined for 28 kills as Cal State Northridge won the first two sets then had to hold off the late charge of UC Riverside as the Matadors won in five sets (25-20, 25-18, 22-25, 24-26, 15-8) Saturday night at The Matadome. The upset-minded Highlanders (5-17, 2-6 Big West), who won the final three sets in a come-from-behind five set win at UC Santa Barbara last week, had their sights set on another before the Matadors (10-10, 4-4 Big West) pulled out the 15-8 win in the fifth set. Haina (15 kills, .324), Hinger (13 kills, .458) and Natalie Allen (11 kills, .290) carried a lions-share of the offensive load for Northridge which hit .276 as a team. Haina overcame a sluggish start to lead the Matadors in kills for the 13th time this season. Hinger also matched her career-high with three aces as CSUN served a season-high 10 aces against the Highlanders. Setter Sydney Gedryn dished out 47 assists while libero Cindy Ortiz had a team-high 17 digs in the win.


With the Big West Conference race beginning to heat up, Northridge's road matches this week at Fullerton and Long Beach State are crucial. The Matadors sit alone in fifth-place at 4-4 and trail three teams (Pacific, UCSB, Cal Poly) by just one-half game. Long Beach (8-2) leads the conference by 2.5 games heading into this weeks matches. Saturday's win over UC Riverside improved the Matadors to 3-1 at home in Big West matches but CSUN has lost three straight conference road matches heading to Fullerton on Friday. The Titans, who are 4-2 at home, trail the Matadors by one-half game and will also host UC Riverside this weekend. Northridge topped Fullerton in straight sets (32-30, 25-21, 25-18) in The Matadome on Oct. 1. Long Beach, which hosts UC Riverside on Friday, is the conference's hottest team having won six straight and eight of nine entering this week. The 49ers are 9-3 at the Walter Pyramid this season and the Matadors have historically struggled in the Pyramid where CSUN is 2-12 all-time and hasn't won since 2004.


Kayla Neto leads Fullerton averaging 3.96 kills per set which ranks second in the Big West. Caitlin Ledoux paces Long Beach with a 3.83 kps average while Big West Player of the Week Haleigh Hampton adds 3.06 kps while hitting .337. Mahina Haina comes in as CSUN's top hitter as she is averaging 3.35 kps (.246) which is ninth-best in the conference. Casey Hinger adds 2.42 kps while hitting .272 which ranks ninth in the conference.


Northridge improved to a perfect 4-0 this season when a match runs the distance. Saturday's 25-20, 25-18, 22-25, 24-26, 15-8 win over UC Riverside was the Matadors' first five-set match since CSUN topped UNLV on Sept. 10. The Matadors also own five-set wins this season over Eastern Washington (Sept. 9) and Weber State (Aug. 27).


Defensive specialist Monica McFarland and libero Cindy Ortiz have accounted for 502 of the Matadors' 1181 digs this season. McFarland had a huge hand in CSUN's 3-2 win over UC Riverside as the junior from Riverside notched her eighth ace of the season in the Matadors' 25-20 set one win. McFarland then made back-to-back sprawling digs followed by a pair of tough serves during a crucial run in set three. Now with 907 career digs, McFarland is 108 digs away from entering the all-time Northridge top-10. Ortiz had 17 digs against the Highlanders to add to her career total of 752. Ortiz went over 300 digs for the second straight season as the junior from Los Angeles currently ranks fourth in the Big West averaging 4.22 digs per set.


As a team, the Matadors served a season-high 10 aces against UC Riverside on Saturday giving them 94 aces this season. CSUN continues to rank first in the Big West averaging 1.27 aces per set which is .07 ahead of UC Santa Barbara. In eight conference matches, the Matadors are averaging a Big West-best 1.31 aces per set. Three Northridge players rank among the top-10 including Sydney Gedryn (5th - 0.28), Natalie Allen (6th - 0.24) and Cindy Ortiz (9th - 0.21). The school record for aces in a single season is 286 by the 1990 squad but the rally scoring era record is 182 by the 2006 team.


Saturday's win over UC Riverside gave the Matadors double figures in the win column for the seventh time in 10 seasons under head coach Jeff Stork. CSUN is averaging nearly 14 wins per season in those seven seasons. The Matadors averaged nearly 15 wins per season over Stork's first three seasons (2002-04) which included a 17-win, NCAA Tournament season in 2004. Northridge became the sixth Big West team to win at least 10 matches this season.


Through matches of Oct. 24, the Matadors ranks 140th out of 327 schools in the NCAA women's volleyball RPI. Saturday's win over UC Riverside not only improved Northridge to 10-10 but also jumped the Matadors 15-spots in the RPI from a week ago. The Big West ranks among the top-10 conferences in the country again this season while five conference teams currently rank inside the top-100: Long Beach State (51st), UC Santa Barbara (65th), Pacific (74th), UC Davis (80th) and Cal Poly (81st).


Saturday's match with UC Riverside was the Matadors' annual effort to aid in breast cancer awareness. Donations from the 2011 Dig Pink night will add to Northridge's three-year effort which has exceeded $5,000 ... Casey Hinger had a career-high eight blocks against UCR which tied Nicole Jarvis for individual season-high honors. Jarvis had eight total against Marist in the fourth match of the season ... Senior Una Siljegovic came off the bench to serve a career-high two aces against UC Riverside. Siljegovic also hit a season-high .667 in six attacks against the Highlanders.


Matador head coach Jeff Stork shares his thoughts each week on the team, this week's matches and other topics.

On remaining unbeaten in five-set matches with Saturday's win over UC Riverside:

"The fact that we're 4-0 in five-set matches certainly speaks to the character and composure of the team when it comes down to crunch time. I've always known this team had that kind of character so it's great to see that we're 4-0 in five-set matches. The fact that the match went five is an OK thing but the fact that we won is a great thing."

On being satisfied with a 4-4 record at the midpoint of the Big West season:

"I'll be satisfied when we're playing the best possible volleyball we can play. To me it's a little bit more than wins and losses, it's the team reaching its potential and I think were catching our stride and gaining some confidence in the second half. We haven't sputtered this season, we've been beaten by teams but we haven't lost."

On the play of junior Monica McFarland who had several key digs against UCR:

"It doesn't surprise me anymore that Monica makes plays like that, it's an expectation we've had for her since she's been here. Her tenacity, speed and commitment to make the play is second to none. I've said it over and over that her effort is unquestioned."

On road tests this week at Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State:

"It's always nice to play at home but our girls understand the situation we're in this week. These are both good teams and certainly Long Beach has some players back which helps them. We'll prep our team the same way, the girls are actually looking forward to getting back on the road and playing some good teams. The month of October is important for every team in the conference and our team is committed to finishing the month strong. We respect everyone but we're not afraid of anyone either. We need to come ready to play."


Following Saturday's road match at Long Beach State, the Matadors begin a stretch where they will play five of their last seven matches at home beginning Nov. 4 against UC Davis.