Matadors Tame Tigers in Five-Set Thriller
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – Nearly two hours and 30 minutes after Thursday's match began, Cal State Northridge (14-7, 5-4 BWC) setter Sydney Gedryn recorded her ninth, and final kill of the night to help her team earn a hard-fought 25-23, 25-19, 18-25, 21-25, 15-11 victory over the visiting Pacific Tigers (16-5, 4-4 BWC).
The victory improved the Matadors' record in five-set matches this season to 4-1.
Led by outside hitter Britney Graff with 13, four Matadors finished the night with double-digit kills. Outside hitter Mahina Haina and middle blocker Casey Hinger each recorded 12 kills, with middle blocker Cieana Stinson completing the Matador quartet with her 10-kill effort.
This is the third time this season that four CSUN attackers finished with 10 or more kills, other quadruple-double efforts turned in by the Matadors took place against LIU (Sept. 8) and at UC Riverside (Sept. 22). On all three occasions, Northridge emerged with a five-set win.
Northridge libero Cindy Ortiz led all players with 32 digs, often extending the Matadors' rally with her efforts in crucial situations throughout the entire match.
In Thursday's decisive fifth set, the lead only changed on one occasion; after tying the score for the fifth time of the frame at 9-9, the Matadors forced the Tigers to commit three straight attack errors to push their lead to a 12-9 margin. On two of those three plays, Gedryn and Hinger combined efforts to earn points for CSUN via blocks.
Gedryn and Hinger finished with seven and nine blocks respectively, with the latter falling one block shy of recording her first double-double of the season.
"I think any block, especially a stuff block, pumps everyone up. That's a great way to build momentum," said Graff.
Trailing CSUN by three, Pacific then called its second timeout of the set in an effort to disrupt a Matador attack that was quickly building a sizable advantage on the scoreboard. Shortly after both teams emerged from their respective huddles, kills by Graff and Hinger helped Northridge earn its first match point.
Tigers middle blocker Jennifer Sanders then trimmed CSUN's lead to three, a margin that would quickly return to its previous four-point cushion on Gedryn's ninth kill of the night, securing a Northridge victory that enabled the Matador faithful to exit the Matadome in a positive mood after witnessing another home victory.
"It's great to play at home in front of our fans with everyone cheering in a great atmosphere," said Graff. Thursday's contest is the first of only two home matches scheduled to take place inside the Matadome this month.
"We have played well in fifth sets this season," added Graff. "We just needed to remember that it was a short set, that we needed to come out on fire and play hard from the beginning all the way through to the end."
In addition to recording 10 scoops, Gedryn led all Matadors with 42 assists to record her eighth double-double of the season. Also turning in a double-double effort for the fifth time this season was Graff as she added 12 digs to her team-high kills total.
Northridge will return to the Matadome Saturday evening to face the UC Davis Aggies (10-10, 4-3 BWC) in a 7 p.m. match. A video stream, live stats and in-game Twitter updates will be available on GoMatadors.com.