Matadors Sweep UC Riverside in First Conference Road Match

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Natalie Allen had a match-high 13 kills while both Allen and Casey Hinger each hit over .400 as Cal State Northridge swept UC Riverside 25-12, 25-15, 25-19 Friday night in a Big West Conference match at SRC Arena.

The Matadors (12-3, 2-0 Big West) hit .284 as a team committing just 10 hitting errors in the match. CSUN limited the host Highlanders (1-13, 0-2 Big West) to -.010 hitting as UCR had 26 kills but committed 27 hitting errors, the Matadors posted 12.0 total blocks (2 solo, 20 assisted).

Allen, Hinger and Mahina Haina each committed just one hitting error apiece as Allen hit a match-high .444 on 27 swings, Hinger (.429) and Haina (.300) each chipped in seven kills. Allen rounded out a solid all-around match with nine digs, six blocks and three assists.

"We were well prepared and the girls followed the game plan very well," said Matador head coach Jeff Stork. "The tendencies we had on their hitters were very good. We were fairly steady and didn't have as many errors as we did against UC Davis which was nice. I thought Nat, Casey and Mahi all had nice offensive matches."

After scoring the first five points of the match, the Matadors eventually led by eight (10-2) when Allen and Sam Kaul teamed up to stuff a UCR attack. An ensuing 5-0 run by the Highlanders trimmed the lead to 10-7 but CSUN regained control with a 9-2 run boosting the lead to 10 (19-9). The lead was double digits the rest of the way and the Matadors took set one when a Highlander attack went long.

With CSUN holding a slim 6-4 lead in set two, an Allen kill, a UCR hitting error and a Britney Graff ace boosted the Matador lead to 9-4. An Ashley Cox kill on the next point cut the lead to 9-5 and UCR was still within four at 10-6 when CSUN engineered a 9-4 run to take an insurmountable 19-10 lead.

The final set was knotted up eight times, the last at 9-9, when kills by Hinger, Stephanie Serna and a block by Allen and Serna opened up a 12-9 CSUN lead. The Highlanders were still within three at 13-10 when a Steffi Miller kill fueled a 7-3 CSUN run which put the Matadors comfortably in front 20-13. Allen's kill on match point sent the Matadors to their sixth win in their last seven matches and their seventh straight victory over UC Riverside.

Cristina Maietta led UC Riverside with 10 kills (.240) while Cox added eight kills (-.054).

Cal State Northridge stays on the road Saturday as the Matadors head to Cal State Fullerton to tale on the Titans at 6 p.m.