Matadors Set to Open 2010 Season at Aztec Invitational

Aug. 25, 2010

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Cal State Northridge opens its 36th season of women's volleyball this Friday as the Matadors take on the San Diego State Aztecs in the opener of the Aztec Invitational at SDSU's Peterson Gym. The Matadors (0-0, 0-0 Big West) will also face Cincinnati and Northern Colorado in the four-team tournament. Northridge, which returns nine players from the 2009 season and welcomes six new players to the 2010 roster, opens against the host Aztecs Friday at 7 p.m. and will take on Cincinnati Saturday morning at 10 a.m., followed by a 5 p.m. tilt with Northern Colorado. The Aztec Invitational is the first of four pre-conference tournaments for the Matadors who will also travel to Sacramento, San Jose/Santa Clara and Las Vegas over the coming weeks.

All matches of the Aztec Invitational will be available on Gametracker. In addition all Northridge home matches will be streamed live via as well as feature live stats via Gametracker.

Northridge wrapped up the 2009 season with an overall record of 8-22 and the Matadors were eighth in the Big West at 4-12. Four-year starter Angela Hupp (Acton, Calif./Paraclete HS) concluded her Northridge career ranked among the top 10 in six different categories and earned All-Big West honors for the fourth straight season. Freshman Britney Graff (Canyon Lake, Calif./Temescal Canyon HS), who wound up second to Hupp in kills, was named to the Big West All-Freshman Team, the sixth year in a row Northridge has had a first-year player named to the All-Freshman Team. Junior Brittany Williams (Chino Hills, Calif./Ayala HS), who had her season cut short due to injury, led the Matadors with a 2.81 kills per set average while fellow junior Lynda Morales (Fallbrook, Calif./Centennial HS) was the teams' second-leading blocker at 0.83 per set. Senior Tela Burnett (Pleasant Grove, Utah/Salt Lake CC) led the Matadors as well as the Big West in blocking averaging a conference-best 1.20 blocks per set. Sophomore setter Sam Orlandini (La Canada, Calif./Flintridge Sacred Heart Prep) ran the Matador offense for the season year and averaged 7.49 assists per set which led the team and ranked among the top-10 in the Big West. Redshirt freshman Monica McFarland spent her first season on the court as the starting libero and averaged 3.66 digs per set which ranked ninth in the conference.

The Matadors' three opponents at this weekend's Aztec Invitational finished a combined 60-38 last season with Cincinnati and Northern Colorado reaching the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Northridge is 2-10 all-time against San Diego State (14-15 in 2009) and last defeated the Aztecs in 2006. The two teams met in San Francisco last season with SDSU winning in four sets. The Matadors have never beaten Cincinnati in two meetings all-time. The Bearcats, 25-11 in 2009, topped Northridge in four sets in Hawai'i in 2005 and Cincinnati won in straight sets in Tempe, Ariz. in 2008. The Matadors have never met Northern Colorado, a member of the Big Sky Conference which finished 21-12 a season ago. Northridge spent five seasons (1996-2000) as a member of the Big Sky Conference and will take on former Big Sky foes Sacramento State on Sept. 4 and Portland State on Sept. 11.

Matador head coach Jeff Stork comes into the 2010 season, his ninth on the bench, with 94 career wins. Stork has 116 career coaching wins which includes 22 wins as the interim head coach of the Pepperdine men's team in 2000. In eight seasons at Northridge, Stork owns a record of 94-136 (.409) and is 116-142 (.450) in nine seasons overall. Stork is 23 wins away from passing Dr. Lian Lu (1994-01) and moving into second place on the all-time Matador coaching wins list. Walt Ker (1979-92) amassed 401 wins in his 14 seasons at Cal State Northridge.

Since 1978, Cal State Northridge is 19-13 (.594) all-time in season openers. The Matadors are 4-4 (.500) in eight previous season openers under Stork. This weekend's opener at San Diego State marks the fifth time in Stork's nine years that Northridge has played its season opener on the road. The last time the Matadors opened at home was 2005 when Northridge fell to Arizona State in five sets. The Matadors dropped their 2009 season opener to Tulsa in three sets at the Bronco Invitational in Boise, Idaho before rebounding to win their next two matches.

Seven opponents on Northridge's 2010 schedule received votes in the AVCA preseason top-25 poll. UCLA was the highest ranked team on the slate as the Bruins received 462 points and are ranked 16th in the preseason top-25. Long Beach State received 132 points are listed first among the schools "receiving votes". Cincinnati picked up 53 points, UC Santa Barbara earned 51, UC Irvine 24, San Diego State 14 and Santa Clara 5. Northridge and UCLA tangle in the Matadors' home opener on Sept. 14.

With the loss of senior starters Angela Hupp and Tela Burnett, the Matadors will have new faces in the starting lineup in 2010. Freshman Natalie Allen (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley HS) figures to take some of the swings vacated by Hupp who took a team-high 953 attempts last season. Fellow freshman Nicole Jarvis (Oxnard, Calif./Oxnard HS) also looks to crack the starting lineup in place of Burnett who led the Big West in blocking in 2009. Freshmen Mahina Haina (Honolulu, Hawai'i/Iolani HS), Sydney Gedryn (San Jose, Calif./Willow Glen HS), Megan Kirkpatrick (Downey, Calif./Downey HS) and junior Una Siljegovic (Simi Valley, Calif./Royal HS/Moorpark College) also look to contribute right away.

The Matadors will have their largest senior class since 2008 as Janet Alvarado, Lynda Morales, Brittany Williams and Karina Woehrstein will all play their final season at Northridge. Morales is a five-year Matador having redshirted as a true freshman in 2006 while Williams wraps up a four-year Matador career this season. Alvarado and Woehrstein are both in their second seasons. Morales, who has played in 90 matches and 332 sets in her career, ranks fifth all-time in block assists (333) and is seventh in total blocks (357) in Northridge history. Williams has appeared in 84 matches and 301 sets heading into her final season and has 802 career kills. Junior setter Sam Orlandini also ranks among the Northridge career leaders with 1,599 assists which is good for eighth on the Matador career assists list.

Following a successful 2009 season, Britney Graff (Canyon Lake, Calif./Temescal Canyon HS) added her name to a string of six straight Northridge freshmen accorded Big West All-Freshman honors. Graff joined teammates Sam Orlandini (2008) and Brittany Williams (2007) who have been honored among the top first-year players in the conference. Now a sophomore, Graff looks to build on her first season that saw her finish second on the team in kills (287), digs (262) and aces (21) and third in kills per set (2.66). In her just her second collegiate match last season (Aug. 29), Graff recorded 16 kills (.333) and a career-high 18 digs in Northridge's five-set win at Boise State. She posted a career-best 17 kills against Fresno State on Sept. 18.

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

On the season opener against San Diego State:
"We played San Diego State last year, it was a tight match but we lost in four. They had some strong offensive players last year but I think they are going to have a freshman setter starting this year. We think we know some of their players, but they did add two foreign players. They finished in the middle of the pack in the Mountain West Conference last season."

On Cincinnati and Northern Colorado:
"We've played Cincinnati in the past and they tend to be a little bit bigger than what we normally see in our conference. They have good athletes and Reed Sunahara does a good job over there. Northern Colorado made the tournament last year, giving Washington a little bit of a scare. I know they're a quality team and since it's the first weekend we're just really excited to get started."

On the Matadors' preseason preparation:
"I think we've been training very well, the double-days helped us out a lot. There's a lot of competition at the outside hitting position as well as at the DS/libero position. I think the incoming freshmen have done a terrific job of pushing the more veteran players for playing time. Now that we've started classes there's the added responsibility of our student-athletes but the girls have handled themselves extremely well and are excited to finally play someone other than ourselves."

Following this weekend's Aztec Invitational, the Matadors continue tournament play next Friday and Saturday in the state capital. Northridge will take on Elon, Texas-San Antonio and Sacramento State as part of the Sacramento State Invitational Sept. 3-4.


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