July 10, 2009
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Cal State Northridge head coach Jeff Stork has finalized his 2009 schedule which has the Matadors playing three tournaments in three states as well as a typically demanding Big West slate.
Northridge, which is coming off a 9-21 (3-13 Big West) season in 2008, opens 2009 in the same locale the Matadors tipped off 2008, Boise, Idaho. Northridge will tangle with Tulsa (Aug. 28), former Big Sky foe Northern Arizona (Aug. 29) and the host Boise State Broncos (Aug. 29) in the season-opening Bronco Invitational tournament.
The season-opener against Tulsa is the first-ever match between the Matadors and the Conference USA school. Northridge and Northern Arizona have met 18 times, primarily when both schools competed in the Big Sky Conference. NAU holds a slight 10-8 lead in the series and the schools last met in 2000. The Matadors hold a 3-1 adge in the series with Boise State and defeated the Broncos in four sets last season.
"We open in Boise and my hope is that it's a tournament where we can come out with some wins," said Stork. "Of the group I think Tulsa is the strongest while Northern Arizona and Boise State both have new coaches so I'm not sure what to expect from those two teams."
The Matadors then return to California to participate in the USF Asics/Coca-Cola Challenge in San Francisco. Northridge opens against the host San Francisco Dons (Sept. 4) before taking on Rice (Sept. 5) and San Diego State (Sept. 5).
Northridge leads 4-2 in the series with San Francisco but the Dons defeated the Matadors in their last meeting (3-2) in Seattle, Wash. Northridge and Rice last met in 1992 with the Matadors winning in three sets while San Diego State is 9-2 all-time against Northridge with the last match between the two teams taking place in 2006.
"The San Francisco tournament is going to be a tough tournament," said Stork. "I know San Francisco has been doing a real good job, Rice is strong and San Diego State now has Deitre Collins-Parker who always tends to turn programs around so that should be a tough tournament."
The final tournament has the Matadors traveling to Pullman, Wash. to take part in the Nike Cougar Challenge at Washington State. Northridge will meet the host Cougars twice (Sept. 11, 12) and in between will take on former Big West foe Idaho (Sept. 12).
The Matadors and Cougars met for the first time last year with Washington State pulling out a five-set win in the season-opener for both teams. Northridge and Idaho have met 12 times since 1994 with both teams winning six times.
"We had a real tough match against Washington State last year going five sets and it was disappointing we didn't get that win," said Stork. "I think the Idaho match is interesting just for the fact they were in our conference five years ago and Debbie Bucahanan does a real good job up there."
The Matadors then travel to Los Angeles to take on Loyola Marymount (Sept. 15) before opening up the home schedule on Sep. 18 against Fresno State. The homestand concludes with a match against another WCC squad in Portland on Sept. 19.
"Loyola Marymount is always a tough match," said Stork. "The West Coast Conference has come up real strong of late and actually passed the Big West. Then we host Fresno State and Portland which we're really happy with. It's always nice to have non-conference matches at home but I'm sometimes hesitant to do it because of the heat in The Matadome. My hope is that it's not too hot in September and that this can be a quality event."
The Big West season opens with road matches at UC Davis (Sept. 25) and Pacific (Sept. 26) before September closes with a non-conference match at CSU Bakersfield (Sept. 30).
Northridge will then play six of its eight matches during the month of October in the comforts of home. UC Irvine (Oct. 6), Cal Poly (Oct. 9) and UC Riverside (Oct. 10) open the month in Northridge while Pacific (Oct. 23), UC Davis (Oct. 24) and CSU Bakersfield (Oct. 30) close the month. In between, the Matadors will play road matches at Cal State Fullerton (Oct. 16) and defending Big West champion Long Beach State (Oct. 17).
The final month of the regular season features three home matches and four road matches as Northridge looks to challenge for the Big West crown in November. The Matadors host UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 3), Long Beach State (Nov. 13) and Cal State Fullerton (Nov. 14) and travel to UC riverside (Nov. 6), UC Irvine (Nov. 7), Cal Poly (Nov. 20) and wrap up the regular season at UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 21). The match against Fullerton on Nov. 14 will open with senior night festivities.
"Our conference is always difficult," said Stork. "Last year, I think the middle section of the season was the thing that gave us a little bit of the shivers and it took us a few matches to get out of that. We started real well, we finished real well and my hope is that we'll do some different things this year to make sure that we're starting strong and continuing strong."
"The Big West is always a difficult conference to compete in," added Stork. "But I think the girls have had a wonderful spring, they've done a lot of extra things to make sure we don't have a season like we had last year in terms of wins and losses. I'm hopeful that the three or four new players that we have coming in are going to contribute in a very positive way and like every season I'm hopeful that we'll have a great season."
- GO MATADORS -