NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Cal State Northridge celebrated its 2011 senior night with an impressive 25-17, 25-21, 25-19 sweep over visiting Cal Poly Saturday night in The Matadome.
Prior to the match, the Matadors (15-13, 9-7 Big West) honored their two seniors, Sam Orlandini and Una Siljegovic and CSUN responded with one of its most impressive outings of the season. The win gave the Matadors sole possession of third-place in the Big West while also snapping a 12-match losing streak to the Mustangs.
Siljegovic's kill on match point gave the senior a team-high 12 for the night as three other CSUN hitters notched 11 kills apiece. Freshman Casey Hinger capped a solid conference season with 11 kills with just one error in 20 swings to hit .500. Sophomore Mahina Haina also had 11 kills and hit well checking in at .375 while fellow sophomore Natalie Allen chipped in 11 kills (.308) as well. Allen was the point leader for the Matadors after adding a match-high three aces and posting one assisted block.
Orlandini, who ranks third in Northridge history in assists, added a match-high 45 to her total as the senior from La Canada, Calif., played her final conference match. The Matadors hit a solid .328 as a team (compared to .252 for the Mustangs) and out-dug Cal Poly 59-51 led by Cindy Ortiz's 14 digs and Monica McFarland's 12.
"I thought we were extremely good tonight," said head coach Jeff Stork. "Both teams played error-free volleyball for the most part and the hitting numbers are pretty good for two teams going at it. Obviously we had very good distribution as Sam did an outstanding job following the game plan."
After a Cal Poly hitting error on the opening point of the match, the Matadors claimed the next five points and never looked back. CSUN got kills from three different hitter along with an Ortiz ace during the run. After trailing by as many as seven (9-2), the Mustangs battled back to get within two at 16-14 following a Megan McConnell kill. But a 5-1 CSUN run quickly built the lead back to five at 21-15 and the Matadors hit .385 and cruised to the 25-17 win.
Set two was the tightest of the match as the score was tied nine times and featured three lead changes. The Mustangs led by as many as two (5-3) early on before three consecutive Matador points, capped by a Haina kill, gave CSUN its first lead at 6-5. But Cal Poly wrestled back the lead at 8-7 and the two teams then played to a 10-10 tie when a pair of Siljegovic kills and an Allen kill gave the Matadors the margin they needed 13-10. Despite Cal Poly closing to within 13-12, CSUN would not surrender its lead and slowly built the cushion to as many as five (22-17) before pulling away for the 25-21 win.
The final frame was tied just once at 9-9, when kills from Hinger, Siljegovic and Orlandini along with an Allen ace gave the Matadors a 13-9 lead. CSUN was not threatened from that point on and Siljegovic's kill on match point sent the Matadors to the straight-set win.
Jennifer Keddy led Cal Poly with a match-high 16 kills (.484) and 11 digs while Molly Pon added seven kills (.467).
Cal State Northridge, which was picked to finish eighth in the Big West in the Coaches Preseason Poll, ends the conference season with sole possession of third-place which is the highest for a Matador team since the 2003 squad finished tied for second.
"In a lot of ways we were better focused as a team this year," added Stork. "We had fewer issues within the team this year that led to a better chemistry throughout the year. Obviously we had challenges along the way that we had to deal with, but overall the chemistry of the team was outstanding."
Cal State Northridge concludes the 2011 regular season next Friday, Nov. 25 with a non-conference match against Air Force. First serve in The Matadome is scheduled for noon.
- GO MATADORS -