LAS VEGAS, Calif. - CSUN junior Cieana Stinson pounded a career-high 26 kills as the Matadors stormed back from two sets down to top the host UNLV Rebels 16-25, 16-25, 25-21, 25-23, 15-12 Saturday night at Cox Pavilion.
With the win, CSUN remains unbeaten at 3-0 and claims the UNLV Invitational championship. The Matadors defeated UNLV in four on Friday and swept Western Kentucky Saturday afternoon.
Stinson, who connected for a match-high 15 kills against the Rebels on Friday, was named tournament MVP after erupting for 26 kills Saturday night. Stinson's total is the most by a Matador hitter since Mahina Haina had 28 against Weber State in 2011.
"Anytime you get five kills per set, that's a great night and CeCe had a great night but it was really a great team effort by everyone tonight," said head coach Jeff Stork.
CSUN, which hit .227 as a team for the match, found themselves down two sets after dropping both by identical 25-16 scores. An ace by Steffi Miller gave the Matadors an 18-12 lead in set three and after closing out the frame 25-20, CSUN carried the momentum into set four.
In the fourth, a UNLV ball handling error gave the Matadors set point at 24-21. But a pair of Rebel points cut the lead to 24-23 before Stinson connected out of a CSUN timeout sending the match to a decisive fifth set.
The Rebels appeared to take control in the fifth leading 12-9 in the latter stages. A Stinson kill pulled CSUN within 12-10 and sent libero Kelcie Randazzo to the service line. With Randazzo serving, the Matadors rallied for the final five points of the match as CSUN remained unbeaten in 2014.
"UNLV is a very good team with a lot of good parts," added Stork. "The biggest difference was we made one or two adjustments and the girls grew more determined and pushed back when UNLV was pushing. Overall, I'm extremely happy to get the win."
Senior Sam Kaul, who hit a blistering .700 against Western Kentucky earlier in the day, also picked up all-tournament honors after posting nine kills while hitting .462 to go with two blocks and a pair of digs. Miller also was named to the all-tournament team after handing out 56 assists while also putting away five kills.
CSUN returns to the court next Friday, Sept. 5 as the Matadors travel to Tucson, Ariz. for the Arizona Invitational. CSUN will take on Loyola-Chicago and Alabama State on Friday and the host Wildcats on Saturday.
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