NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Playing its best volleyball of the season, Cal State Northridge wrapped up an impressive weekend with its second straight sweep, this time 25-23, 33-31, 25-18 over Pacific on Saturday at The Matadome.
After taking care of UC Davis in straight sets on Friday, the Matadors (13-11, 7-5 Big West) held a hot-hitting Pacific squad to a .173 clip in claiming Saturday's match. Northridge hit .244 as a team against the Tigers behind a quartet of Matador hitters with double figures in kills.
Natalie Allen and Mahina Haina led the charge as each put down a team-high 12 kills with Allen adding 11 digs for her team-leading eighth double-double this season. Casey Hinger added 11 kills while hitting .364 in 22 swings and also added a pair of aces and seven blocks. Britney Graff completed the quartet with 10 kills (.280) to go with 12 digs, her sixth double-double of the 2011 campaign.
One night after steering the Matadors to a season-high .465 hitting clip, sophomore setter Sydney Gedryn posted 45 assists as CSUN hit .244. Gedryn rounded out the match with seven digs, three kills, three blocks and matched Hinger with two aces. Cindy Ortiz had a match-high 19 digs from her libero spot.
"Our team had the best weekend we've had in a long, long time," said head coach Jeff Stork. "The quality of play is really high and it's obviously affecting morale and our confidence is extremely high right now."
After the Matadors bolted out to a 6-2 lead early in the opening set, CSUN led by as many as five (13-8) before Pacific battled back to within 13-12 after a Haina hitting error and ultimately tied the score at 14-14 on a Tiger co-block. With the score knotted at 15-15, Pacific tallied three straight to take its largest lead of the set at 18-15. But a Tiger hitting error, a Hinger-Allen block and a Hinger put-away tied the score again at 18-18. The set was tied twice more, the last at 20-20 when another Pacific hitting error and an Allen kill gave CSUN the margin it needed as the Matadors claimed set one 25-23.
Set two was similar in that the Matadors opened up an early lead only to watch as the Tigers battled back at the midway point. After CSUN led by as many as six points (12-6), a Megan Birch kill pulled Pacific within one at 19-18. But again the Matadors pulled away late as Ortiz's ace gave Northridge three set points at 24-21. The Tigers, however, would not go down easy as they saved the three set points and the set was headed to extra points.
CSUN had four swings at the set, the last of the four at 28-27 before kills from Jennifer Sanders and Birch gave the Tigers their first set point at 29-28. Sam Kaul's kill saved the set point and Graff's ensuing kill gave the Matadors another set point at 30-29. Birch stepped up again putting down consecutive kills giving Pacific another set point at 31-30 but a Katy Tagart service error on the ensuing serve propelled CSUN on a set ending three-point run capped by kills from Graff and Allen.
The final set was mostly all Matadors as CSUN broke open a 4-4 tie with a 6-1 run to open up a 10-5 cushion. A Hinger-Gedryn co-block followed by a Hinger kill gave the Matadors their largest lead at 17-9 and Northridge cruised home from there taking the set 25-18 and the match 3-0.
"We won the three sets in a lot of different ways tonight," added Stork. "Lots of players contributed and we hit at a high percentage and blocked a lot of balls in the third set. We're getting a lot of contributions from a lot of different players. I'm just real happy with the way the Matadors are playing right now."
Birch led Pacific with a match-high 13 kills (.222) while Samantha Misa and Jennifer Sanders each added nine kills.
Cal State Northridge opens up its final road trip of the season next Wednesday at UC Santa Barbara. First serve is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
- GO MATADORS -