Sept. 22, 2009
FOR STARTERS Coming off a split in its season-opening homestand, Cal State Northridge (4-8 0-0 Big West) heads to UC Davis (9-5, 0-0 Big West) and Pacific (10-1, 0-0 Big West) this week to open the Big West Conference schedule. The Tigers currently sit atop the Big West standings while the Aggies are sixth. Northridge is one spot behind UC Davis in seventh. Six of the conference's nine teams have winning records as Big West play opens this week.
TO RECAP The Matadors opened last week with a tough five-set loss at Loyola Marymount before also going down in five to Fresno State in their home opener. But Northridge rebounded to sweep Portland the following night to snap a three-match skid and split the homestand. Junior Brittany Williams led the Matadors with 12 kills in the win over Portland and hit .380 with 27 kills in the two matches at home. Senior Angela Hupp had a season-high 21 kills in a career-best 66 attacks at Loyola Marymount on Tuesday.
"The two matches at home were certainly a contrast," said Head Coach Jeff Stork. "I thought the biggest reason we lost to Fresno State was our passing. Our percentage of perfect passes was well below what the team needs to execute at, which in turn leads to a few more hitting errors than we would normally see.
"We made one significant lineup change for the Portland match and I thought it was a plus for us," said Stork. "We moved Karina (Woehrstein) to libero and Monica (McFarland) to DS and the passing improved a bit and the team morale was a little bit higher."
MATADORS LOOK FOR CONTINUED SUCCESS AS CONFERENCE SEASON BEGINS Northridge carries a record of 18-7 (.720) in conference openers into Friday's match at UC Davis. The Matadors have had success in Big West openers under Jeff Stork where Northridge is 4-3 (.571) in seven seasons. Last season, the Matadors dropped a five-set decision to UC Santa Barbara in their Big West opener which snapped a string of four consecutive conference-opening wins dating back to 2004.
"Both UC Davis and Pacific are improved teams," said Stork. "Certainly the styles of play are a little different but we have to steady-out our sideout play to be successful. I think our point-scoring is very good, while we've missed some serves, our block defense in transition is pretty good. It comes down to stabilizing our siding out to be successful this weekend."
OUTSIDES CONTINUE TO CARRY THE LOAD The trio of outside hitters, Angela Hupp, Britney Graff and Brittany Williams continue to carry much of the offensive load for the Matadors. The trio has accounted for 66.1% (469 of 709) of the teams' points thus far.
"Right now we're an outside hitting team," said Stork. "And while they're doing a great job, it's a tough way to get through the conference season only hitting outside."
With improved passing, the Matadors hope to get middle blocker Lynda Morales going on offense. The junior from Fallbrook is averaging 1.69 k/s bit is hitting just .190, well below the .233 she hit as a sophomore in 2008. Morales did show signs of breaking out as she hit a season-high .412 with eight kills and just one error in 17 swings against Fresno State.
HUPP CONTINUES UP CAREER CHARTS Senior Angela Hupp continues her rise up the Northridge career records list. Following last weekend's matches, the four-year starter moved into ninth place in career kills with 962. Hupp also moved into seventh in total attempts (2,782). She also ranks among the top-10 in assists (1,320), total blocks (301) and block assists (290).
ALVARADO GOES FOUR-FOR-FOUR Junior Janet Alvarado, who has seen limited playing time in her first season at Northridge, came through with four kills in four swings off the bench against Portland on Saturday. Alvarado had previously taken a season-high eight swings against Rice on Sept. 5 and has appeared in four matches this season.
"A highlight of the weekend for me was Janet going four-for-four," said Stork. "She touched the ball four times and she got four points. I think that's kind of hard to do, be perfect, in volleyball or any other sport. It wasn't a lot of contacts but it certainly makes me think of what options we have to utilize her in a better situation."
NORTHRIDGE NOTES The Matadors look to improve on their 1-4 road record when they venture to Northern California this weekend. Northridge's lone win on an opposing teams' floor came in the third match of the season at Boise State ... The Matadors came into last week's matches having won both of their matches when winning the first set. Despite winning the first set in all three matches last week, that record slipped to 3-2 ... Northridge has three hitters with at least 100 kills for the season, Hupp (162), Graff (136) and Williams (110).
NORTHRIDGE ON THE NET All Cal State Northridge home matches will be available via Gametracker at GoMatadors.com 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.
SERIES HISTORY Northridge leads 8-4 in the all-time series with UC Davis and trails 10-7 in the series with Pacific.
SCOUTING THE AGGIES UC Davis, which hosts Pacific on Thursday, comes into this week with an overall record of 9-5. The Aggies defeated Toledo (3-0) and SIU Edwardsville (3-0) before falling to No. 22 Saint Louis (3-0) last week. UC Davis is led by freshman OH Allison Whitson who averages 3.25 k/s while junior OH Kayla Varney adds 2.94 k/s and 3.40 d/s.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS Pacific, which travels to UC Davis on Thursday before hosting the Matadors on Saturday, lead the Big West with an overall record of 10-1. The Tigers have won six straight after sweeping CSU Bakersfield, Nevada and Loyola Marymount last week. Pacific is led by senior OH Mallori Gibson who averages 3.50 k/s while junior OH Svenja Engelhardt adds 3.42 k/s and 2.29 d/s.
UP NEXT Following this weekend's matches in Northern California, the Matadors head to the central valley to take on CSU Bakersfield in a non-conference match on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Northridge will have the following weekend off before returning to Big West action Oct. 6 against No. 21 UC Irvine in The Matadome at 7 p.m.
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