Matadors Wrap Up Tournament Play at Nike Cougar Challenge

Sept. 9, 2009

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FOR STARTERS Cal State Northridge (2-4 0-0 Big West) plays in its third and final tournament of the 2009 regular season beginning Friday as the Matadors head to the Northwest to participate in the Nike Cougar Challenge in Pullman, Wash. In a bit of a scheduling quirk, Northridge will take on the host Washington State Cougars (7-0) on both Friday and Saturday. In between, the Matadors will take on former Big West rival Idaho (4-2) Saturday afternoon. Northridge is coming off a rough weekend in San Francisco where the Matadors dropped all three matches at the USF Asics Challenge. Northridge fell in four sets to both San Francisco and San Diego State and lost to Rice in three sets.

MATADORS PLAY WELL BUT COME AWAY EMPTY IN THE BAY AREA Despite playing solid volleyball over the course of the weekend, Northridge came away empty-handed at the USF Asics Challenge. The Matadors hit a season-high .320 in their four-set loss to San Francisco and posted a four-set, season-high 53 team digs against San Diego State.

"I knew this tournament was going to be more difficult than the first tournament," said Head Coach Jeff Stork. "I thought we played pretty well against San Francisco, we played with a lot of composure in a difficult situation against Rice and we showed a little fortitude in winning the second set against San Diego State."

"I think overall obviously 0-3 is not where you'd like to be but we saw some players do some things that are encouraging," said Stork. "Composure mostly, showing fight no matter what the score is, the team coming together in a lot of good ways."

"I think playing other competition and opening our eyes a little to see how much harder we need to train and focus on every play will be helpful," said Stork. "I think they're training very well but I don't think they've grasped the level they have to rise to to beat good teams."

HUPP EARNS SECOND ALL-TOURNAMENT NOD Senior Angela Hupp was the lone Matador named to the USF Asics Challenge All-Tournament Team. Hupp and freshman Britney Graff were both named to the All-Tournament Team and the season-opening Bronco Invitational. Hupp has now been named to an all-tournament team five times since the beginning of the 2008 season. Hupp is off to a solid start in 2009 as she is currently averaging career-highs in kills (3.41 kps) while hitting a career-best .207. She also added a double-double (10 kills, 10 digs) against San Diego State to her career total of 28. Sophomore setter Sam Orlandini also notched a double-double (34 assists, 10 digs) against San Diego State, her first of the season.

JOHNSON, ALVAREZ MAKE 2009 DEBUTS The USF Asics Challenge saw the 2009 debut of junior middle blocker Chelsea Johnson and also the Matador debut of junior Janet Alvadaro. Johnson started against both San Francisco and Rice and had a pair of kills, seven digs and three blocks in the two matches. Alvarado came off the bench against Rice and notched her first kill in eight swings to go with one dig.

MATADORS CONTINUE TO EXCEL AT THE NET Despite dropping three matches in San Francisco, the Matadors continued to block well. Northridge had nine total blocks (one solo, 16 assists) against San Francisco and added eight total blocks (one solo, 14 assists) against San Diego State. After six matches, the Matadors are leading the Big West averaging 2.45 blocks per set. Senior Tela Burnett (22 total blocks) leads the Matadors and ranks third in the conference at 1.16 bps while Angela Hupp (24 total blocks) is averaging 1.09 bps which is good for fifth in the Big West. Junior Lynda Morales, possibly Northridge's best blocker, is third in the squad with 19 total blocks while averaging 0.90 bps.

MCFARLAND ALL OVER THE COURT Redshirt freshman Monica McFarland has been a pleasant surprise for the Matadors early in the season. Northridge's starting libero, McFarland is averaging a team-high 4.09 digs per set and has been active all over the court after sitting out the 2008 season with an injury After digging a season-high 23 balls against Northern Arizona in the second match of the season, she had a season-low five digs in the three-set win over Boise State. But since, McFarland posted 19 digs against USF, 13 against Rice and 20 against San Diego State.

NORTHRIDGE NOTES In addition to her blocking, senior Tela Burnett has been efficient at the service line. Burnett had a pair of aces against USF then came back with three more against San Diego State to more than double her season total. With seven aces in 19 sets, Burnett ranks seventh in the Big West at 0.37 aces per set ... After a torrid start to her freshman season, Britney Graff cooled off a bit in the final two matches at USF. After a string of three straight matches with double figures in kills, Graff had eight kills while hitting .208 against Rice and then had 10 kills while hitting a season-low .056 against San Diego State ... Brittany Williams matched her season-high with 12 kills against San Diego State.

MATADORS VS.... The Matadors are 0-1 all-time against Washington State and an even 6-6 all-time against Idaho heading into this weekend's Nike Cougar Challenge at Washington State.

Washington State: Northridge and the Cougars last met in the 2008 season opener when Washington State came away with a five-set win in Boise, Idaho. The Cougars are unbeaten at 7-0 this season after winning the Utah Valley La Quinta Inn & Suites Invitational last weekend. Senior setter Renee Bordelon was named Pac-10 Player of the Week after being named tournament MVP. Idaho: Northridge and Idaho last met in The Matadome in 2007 when the Matadors claimed their third straight win in the series. The two teams met eight times (2001-04) when both schools were members of the Big West. The Vandals are 4-2 this season after winning two of three in Las Vegas, Nev.

NORTHRIDGE ON THE NET All Cal State Northridge home matches will be available via Gametracker at and will also be available via live video streaming at BigWest.TV. Get exclusive coverage of Big West Conference action by logging on to BigWest.TV! Now in it's fifth year, BigWest.TV gives fans on-demand access to Big West sports as well as press conferences, features and Big West Conference Championships. If you can't make it to the gym or the field, head to www.BigWest.TV to catch up on your favorite team.

UP NEXT Following the Nike Cougar Challenge, the Matadors head to Los Angeles to take on Loyola Marymount (Sept. 15) before finally opening the home schedule Friday, Sept. 18 against Fresno State. Northridge wraps up the non-conference homestand against Portland the following night (Sept. 19).