Matadors Battle Back From Two Sets Down to Knock Off Arizona in Five Sets

TUCSON, Ariz. - Down two sets and fighting to stay alive in set three, Cal State Northridge battled back to win the final three sets and claim its first victory of the season, 23-25, 22-25, 26-24, 25-21, 15-9 over Arizona Friday at the Wildcat Classic at McKale Center.

The Matadors (1-1), which dropped their season opener earlier in the day to Utah Valley (3-1), knocked off a Pac-12 team for the first time in 18 years. The last time CSUN defeated a team from the Pac-12 came in 1994 when the Matadors topped Oregon State in straight sets.

"It was a good comeback and a great group effort," said head coach Jeff Stork. "We followed the game plan very well, made some adjustments and executed really well. They had a little bit of size and sometimes we do better against size because it slows them down a little."

Natalie Allen was again the offensive stalwart for the Matadors as she knocked down a team-high 16 kills in 35 errorless swings to hit an impressive .457. Allen also added 12 digs for her second consecutive double-double and also handed out three assists. Mahina Haina added 13 kills (.150) and eight digs which is one off her career-high. Casey Hinger chipped in 11 kills (.308), five blocks and a pair of digs.

Junior setter Sydney Gedryn came within one kill of a triple-double as she dished out 49 assists to go with a career-high 15 digs and nine kills. Gedryn also notched six blocks to round out a solid match. 

"Syd did a great job tonight," said Stork. "She set the right people at the right time and our hitters got the job done."

Cindy Ortiz (20) and Britney Graff (13) combined for 33 digs as the Matadors had 74 digs as a team while hitting .281.

After dropping the first two sets, the Matadors and Wildcats battled to a 23-23 tie late in set three. But it was a block from Hinger and Gedryn on the ensuing point that propelled the Matadors to a set clinching run to send the match to a fourth set.

In the fourth, Arizona jumped out to an early 10-6 lead and kept the lead until a Graff kill evened the score at 17-17. Graff's kill was then followed by kills from Allen and Hinger and the run was capped by a Sam Kaul ace as the Matadors had the margin they needed to take a 25-21 set win.

After the Wildcats took a 2-1 lead in the fifth and final set, it was consecutive kills from Graff and a setter kill from Gedryn which gave CSUN the lead for good. Arizona tied the score three times, the last at 7-7, before the Matadors rolled off five straight points to all but seal the set as well as the match. An Allen kill gave Northridge match point at 14-9 and a Wildcat attack went out giving the Matadors the comeback victory.

For the Wildcats, Madi Kingdon and Taylor Arizobal combined for 50 of Arizona's 74 kills while Kingdon also added a match-high 21 digs.

"We're very happy with the win but we've got to get ready for Evansville tomorrow," added Stork.

Cal State Northridge concludes action at the Wildcat Classic Saturday at 1 p.m. as the Matadors take on Evansville which split its two matches on Friday.