CSUN's Final Regular Season Road Trip Begins Friday at UC Davis

MATCH #28 (Big West Match #15):

Cal State Northridge Matadors (18-9, 9-5 Big West) at UC Davis Aggies (15-13, 9-6 Big West) 

Friday, Nov. 16, 2012 - 7 p.m. PST
The Pavilion (7,100) - Davis, Calif.
Live Stats: ucdavisaggies.com
Streaming Video: BigWest.TV
Audio: none
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors

MATCH #29 (Big West Match #16):

Cal State Northridge Matadors (18-9, 9-5 Big West) at Pacific Tigers (20-8, 8-7 Big West) 

Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 - 7 p.m. PST
Spanos Center (6,150) - Stockton, Calif.
Live Stats: GoMatadors.com
Streaming Video: BigWest.TV
Audio: pacifictigers.com
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors

Weekly Match Notes (PDF)


With four matches remaining in the regular season, Cal State Northridge (18-9, 9-5 Big West) takes its final road trip of 2012 as the Matadors travel to Northern California for a pair of crucial conference matches at UC Davis and Pacific. CSUN, 6-4 in road matches this season, opens the two-match trip Friday at UC Davis (15-13, 9-6) before wrapping the trip Saturday at Pacific (20-8, 8-7).   


All Matador home matches and conference road matches will be featured as part of the Big West live streaming package. BigWest.TV brings together live and on-demand video from each of the Big West's ten member institutions.  Now in it's eighth year, BigWest.TV covers Big West sports, press conferences, interviews and features, including every home and conference contest in women's volleyball.


After jumping out to a commanding two-set lead, Cal State Northridge saw the visiting Loyola Marymount Lions battle back to claim the final three sets and top the Matadors 14-25, 18-25, 25-22, 25-13, 16-14 Saturday at The Matadome. The Matadors (18-9) looked dominating in claiming the first two sets 25-14, 25-18. CSUN committed just four hitting errors over the first two frames while hitting a blistering .520. But LMU (17-11) made some key adjustments in its lineup over the next three sets which carried the Lions to victory. Freshman Cieana Stinson had an impressive match for CSUN putting down a team-high 15 kills while hitting .367 in a team-high 30 swings. Stinson also put up eight block assists as the Matadors posted a sizable 16.0-6.0 advantage in team blocks. Junior Britney Graff added 12 kills (.381), nine digs and four blocks while sophomore Casey Hinger also reached double figures with 10 kills (.217) to go with seven blocks. Setter Sydney Gedryn had yet another solid all-around match with 44 assists, seven kills, six digs and three blocks while leading the Matadors to a .291 hitting clip for the match.


UC Davis and Pacific both come into this week on a roll. The Aggies have won two in a row and five of their last six while the Tigers have won three straight and four of their last six. UC Davis is just 4-7 on its home court while Pacific is 7-2. The Matadors, who defeated the Aggies in four in the season's first meeting, have split eight matches all-time at UC Davis. Allison Whitson, the Big West Player of the Week, paces the Aggies on offense averaging 3.89 kps which ranks fourth in the Big West. Saturday's match between the Matadors and Pacific will be the final match between the two teams as members of the Big West. The Tigers will join the West Coast Conference beginning next season. Megan Birch leads Pacific averaging 3.41 kps (ninth in the Big West) while Gillian Howard is the conference's top blocker holding a 1.27-1.26 edge over the Matadors' Casey Hinger.


With an unblemished 14-0 Big West record, Hawai'i has already clinched the 2012 regular season title and the confernce's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. That leaves a host a teams chasing second place as well as a potential at-large NCAA berth. By virtue of its two conference wins last week, Long Beach State (10-5) moved one-half game ahead of the Matadors (9-5) who themselves hold a one-half game lead over Friday's opponent UC Davis (9-6). Cal State Fullerton (8-6), which closes the regular season at CSUN (Nov. 24), and Pacific (8-7) are also in the mix. 


The Matadors looked to have their 19th win sewn up on Saturday after dominating Loyola Marymount in the first two sets. But the Lions pulled off the improbable comeback and CSUN is still two wins shy of the 20-win plateau for the season. The last time a Cal State Northridge team won as many as 20 matches in a season was 1996 when the Matadors finished 22-11 under coach Lian Lu. Should CSUN win all four of its remaining matches, the Matadors would eclipse the 2003 team for the most Big West Conference victories in a season (13). In Jeff Stork's second season, the Matadors finished 12-6 in the Big West on their way to a 16-13 overall record.


Senior libero Cindy Ortiz continues to close in on the Cal State Northridge rally scoring era (2001-present) record for digs in one season. Ortiz scooped up 16 digs against Loyola Marymount on Saturday and now has 496 digs on the season, 26 away from the career mark. Amy Hultner (2007) and Jessika Hammerich (2004) currently share the single season record with 521. Ortiz, who now has three of the top five single-season dig totals, now has a career digs total of 1,396. Junior Mahina Haina also reached a milestone with seven kills against LMU. With 9.5 points against the Lions, Haina now has 307 points this season and 900 for her Matador career. Fellow junior Britney Graff is also closing in on career season-highs in a number of statistical categories. With 273 kills this season, Graff is closing on her career-high (287) and is also just 13 attacks away from her career-high in swings. She is also fast approaching season-bests in sets played, aces and digs and has already set a new personal career standard in blocks with 51.


Casey Hinger and Pacific's Gillian Howard continue to trade the Big West lead in blocking. Last week, Hinger held a slim 1.25-1.24 lead in blocking average but this week it's Howard who holds a 1.27-1.26 lead over Hinger. If Hinger can overtake Howard in the final four matches, she would be the first Matador since Tela Burnett in 2009 to lead the Big West in blocking average ... Saturday's five-set loss to Loyola Marymount was CSUN's second loss in seven matches that have gone the distance. The only other five-set loss came at home to No. 7 Hawaii on Sept. 19 ... The LMU loss was also just the Matadors' second loss this season when they out-hit an opponent. CSUN out-hit the Lions by a margin of .291-.193 but yet came out on the short end on the scoreboard ... Despite the loss, the Matadors head to Northern California having won three of their last four and five of their last seven dating back to mid-October.


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

On five-set matches:

"I think our winning percentage in deuce games is very good. Obviously we're 5-2 for the year in five-set matches and the fact that we've been there will only help us. It would be nice if the team thinks beyond that, that we should be steadier more often and not go to five sets but this team knows how to win. It's not always in the prettiest way but what's important is that you come out with a win."

On the play of senior libero Cindy Ortiz:

"Cindy is an outstanding volleyball player. She sees the game very well and she has a natural touch on the ball. Regardless of her position, she is a solid all-around volleyball player. If everyone was her size she would be one of the best players out there. She's been a tremendous help to us and has been a joy to coach. She was a walk-on but has always been a really good server and has become a better and better passer, so she has earned it."

On the importance of the final four regular season matches:

"Davis is 9-6 and Pacific is just a game behind them so it doesn't get any more critical than that. I think the players understand the importance of all these matches. They also understand that we can win and lose matches in a lot of different ways. We had a very good performance against LMU and yet we lost the match. But statistically it was one of our best matches of the season. Then we look back to our match at Long Beach where we didn't play particularly well but came out with a win. I think the players understand that we need to stay in the moment and play them one at a time."


The Cal State Northridge women's volleyball was picked to finish third in the 2012 Big West Preseason Coaches Poll as announced by the conference office on Aug. 7. The Matadors received a total of 72 points from the conference's head coaches, the most for a CSUN team in 12 years as a member of the Big West. The previous best preseason ranking for a Matador squad came in 2007 when Northridge was picked to finish fifth before finishing in a tie for fifth at the conclusion of the season. Hawai'i, ranked eighth in the AVCA national preseason poll, was picked to win the Big West after earning nine of 10 first place votes and 99 total points. Defending conference champions Long Beach State was second with 88 total points followed by the Matadors with 72. UC Santa Barbara (60) and Pacific (60) tied for fourth with Cal State Fullerton (46) sixth, Cal Poly (43) seventh, UC Davis (37) eighth, UC Irvine (31) ninth and UC Riverside (14) 10th. Cal Poly earned the lone remaining first place vote.


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