CSUN Claims Bulldog Invitational With Five-Set Win over Fresno State

FRESNO, Calif. - Cal State Northridge was pushed to the limit for the second time on Saturday as the Matadors pulled out their second five-set decision in 10 hours with a 25-17, 22-25, 23-25, 25-17, 15-9 victory over Fresno State at the Save Mart Center.

The win caps an unbeaten weekend for CSUN (3-0) and gives the Matadors the Bulldog Invitational crown.

Junior Natalie Allen, who was named tournament MVP, led Northridge with 17 kills (.294) as three Matador hitters reached double figures in kills. Allen also notched 12 digs for her second double-double in as many matches on Saturday. Senior Mahina Haina added 16 kills (.279) and three digs while sophomore Cieana Stinson rounded out the trio with 15 kills while hitting .423 in 26 swings.

Stinson and junior Casey Hinger were also named to the all-tournament team. Hinger had nine kills (.300), six blocks, two digs and a pair of aces. Setter Sydney Gedryn also capped a solid tournament with 50 assists, seven digs, a match-high seven blocks and two kills while libero Kelcie Randazzo had 18 digs after recording 19 against Rice.

After coming back from a two sets to one deficit against Rice Saturday morning, the Matadors were forced to do the same against the Bulldogs Saturday night. CSUN won the first set going away 25-17, outhitting Fresno State .244 to .122. The Matadors then had chances in each of the next two sets only to see the Bulldogs pull out a 25-22 win set two and a 25-23 win in set three. Both sets were tied at 22-22 late when Fresno State won crucial points down the stretch.

The Matadors regrouped and led from start to finish in set four's 25-17 win. CSUN claimed the first three points of the winner-take-all fifth set and never looked back. A Bulldog kill pulled Fresno State within 5-4 but a trio of Haina kills, a Alia Casino ace and a Bulldog miscue sent the Matadors on a decisive 5-0 run which erased all doubt and Allen converted a kill on match point. 

"Even though we lost the second and third sets by close scores, I thought we were in control for much of the match," said Matador head coach Jeff Stork. "Having to come back against two good teams in one day shows that all of our players played with a lot of heart.

"We're executing at a very high level and if we continue to do this, we'll win a lot of matches," added Stork. "The first contact is crucial and when we're running a good offensive system, we're tough to beat."

Korrin Wild and Holly Franks each had 14 kills to lead Fresno State which dropped to 1-2 on the season.

Cal State Northridge heads to Flagstaff, Ariz. next weekend (Sept. 6-7) to play in the Fiesta Bowl Tournament host by Northern Arizona. The Matadors open with Idaho (Sept. 6 - 4 p.m.) before taking on San Diego State (Sept. 7 - 1 p.m.) and the host Lumberjacks (Sept. 7 - 7 p.m.) 

NOTES: The Matadors have now won three of the last five tournaments they have played in dating back to the 2012 season. CSUN won both the Arizona Wildcat Classic and Rice Invitational II last season and also played for the championship of the USF Asics Powerade Challenge before falling to San Francisco ... Saturday night's win pushed Stork within three wins of 150 for his CSUN career. The 12-year head coach is now 147-178 as the Matador boss.