At Long Last Matadors Open Home Schedule This Week vs. UC Irvine, UC Riverside

At Long Last Matadors Open Home Schedule This Week vs. UC Irvine, UC Riverside

This Week's Matador Women's Volleyball Release


Match #15: UC Irvine at Cal State Northridge * Friday, Sept. 28 * The Matadome * 7:00 p.m.
Match #16: UC Riverside at Cal State Northridge * Saturday, Sept. 29 * The Matadome * 7:00 p.m.

At long last, Cal State Northridge (4-10, 1-1 Big West) opens the 2007 home season this Friday as Northridge hosts UC Irvine (11-4, 1-0) at 7 p.m. followed by a Saturday matchup with UC Riverside (4-8, 0-1) also at 7 p.m. The Matadors are 15-14 (.517) all-time in home openers and an even more impressive 20-3 (.870) in conference home openers dating back to 1978.

All home matches, beginning with Friday's Big West home opener vs. UC Irvine, will webcast live on the official website of Northridge Athletics, with Sam Farber handling the play-by-play. Farber will be joined occasionally by former Winthrop assistant coach Paul Duchesne. For the second straight season, the Big West Conference and CSTV are partnering to bring LIVE Big West Conference volleyball home to you. A monthly subscription of $9.95 or an annual subscription of $79.95 gets you exclusive coverage of Big West women's volleyball delivered right to your computer. If you can't make it to the gym, you can still watch all the action on BigWest.TV!

Sophomore Angela Hupp nearly had a triple-double and redshirt freshman Lynda Morales added a career-high 13 blocks as Cal State Northridge overcame a two games to one deficit to defeat UC Santa Barbara 30-24, 16-30, 25-30, 30-27, 15-13 on Friday at The Thunderdome. On Saturday, Val Kepler had a team-high nine kills and hit .400 but Cal State Northridge dropped a three-set decision (30-23, 30-22, 30-18) at 20th-ranked Cal Poly.

The last time the Matadors suited up for a home match was Nov. 18, 2006 against UC Irvine, some 314 days ago. Northridge has played 14 matches this season, all away from home. The 14-match road trip to open the season is a CSUN school record. But relief is on the way as the Matadors will play 11 of their final 17 matches this season in the comforts of The Matadome.

Lynda Morales (Bakersfield, CA/Centennial HS) had a record-setting night on the blocking front at UC Santa Barbara on Friday. The redshirt freshman had 13 blocks including two solo stuffs. Morales' 11 block assists is a Northridge rally scoring era record and ranks third all-time in Northridge history. Her total of 7.5 total blocks (2 solo, 11 assists) is also a rally scoring era record. As a team, the Matadors posted 21.0 blocks which is a season-high and ranks in the all-time top 10 among Northridge five-set marks.

Friday's 3-2 come-from-behind win at UC Santa Barbara snapped Northridge's 15-year winless streak in The Thunderdome. The Matadors had not win in Santa Barbara since 1992, a span of seven matches. Northridge is now 2-12 in The Thunderdome dating back to 1978. The road win at UCSB also marked the inaugural road win for the Matadors in 2007. Previously, Northridge had three neutral site wins. The win was also just the Matadors' second win in the month of September, against seven losses. Northridge also improved to 3-1 this season in matches lasting five games.

Libero Amy Hultner (Garden Grove, CA/Rosary HS) led the Matadors in digs in 12 straight matches until Saturday's match at Cal Poly. The junior, who assumed the starting libero role in the second match of the season, had led Northridge in digs in each and every match from Aug. 25 against San Francisco through Friday's match at UC Santa Barbara. Hultner, who ranks fifth in the Big West in digs per game (4.50), averaged 4.80 digs per game over the 12-match stretch. Fellow junior Kelley Hanson (Moorpark, CA/Moorpark HS) is the only other Matador to lead the team in digs as she had 29 digs in the season-opener against Fresno State and 10 digs last Saturday at Cal Poly. Hanson is averaging 2.45 digs per game this season.

Head coach Jeff Stork had this to say about the opening weekend of the Big West season:

"It was an exciting win at UC Santa Barbara, the second ever for the program," said Stork. "Certainly the training we did over the last week or so paid off in having a record blocking night. I also think we're passing the ball very well."

"We played well at Cal Poly on Saturday," said Stork. "We had more personnel changes on our side so it's an indication that we're on the right track."

On finally playing a home match after 14 matches on the road:

"We're excited about playing at home on Friday," said Stork. "I'm concerned about the rhythm, hopefully there won't be too many distractions and the team can focus." Stork added: "It will be interesting to see what kind of welcome we get from the Northridge volleyball fans."

Eight Teams on the 2007 Matador schedule are named in the CSTV/AVCA Coaches Top 25 poll this week. USC (12-0), which defeated the Matadors on Aug. 20, are the highest ranked Northridge opponent this week at No. 4. UCLA (12-1), which defeated the Matadors on Sept. 14, is ranked fifth this week followed by eighth-ranked Washington (13-0) which beat Northridge 3-0 on Aug. 25. Duke (8-3), which defeated the Matadors on Sept. 1 is ranked 14th this week followed by 15th-ranked San Diego (9-4), a 3-0 winner over CSUN on Sept. 15. Cal Poly (8-6), which beat the Matadors last Saturday, remains 20th this week while another Big West rival Long Beach State (7-5) and the Big Sky's Sacramento State (13-3) received votes in this week's top 25 poll.

Junior Kristy Nua (Palmdale/Palmdale HS/Antelope Valley JC), who made her Matador debut last weekend at USD Tournament, has started four consecutive matches. In those four starts, Nua is averaging 2.14 kpg while hitting .155 with eight blocks. The only two Matadors to start all 14 matches thus far this season are junior Val Kepler and true freshman Alex Johnson. Hultner has started 13 of 14 matches at libero ... Following this week's matches, the Matadors will open the month of October at home against Cal State Fullerton before playing five of their next seven matches on the road.

The Anteaters bring an 11-4 overall record (1-0 Big West) into Friday's match in Northridge. UC Irvine had won five of its last six matches before falling in four games at 15th-ranked San Diego on Friday. The Anteaters opened the conference season with a 3-1 win over UC Riverside on Sept. 20. Junior Lauren Kellerman leads UCI in hitting averaging 3.60 kills per game. Kellerman is also third on the team in digs averaging 2.04 per game. Chelsea Ellis and Kristin Kelley rank third and fourth respectively in the Big West in hitting percentage. The Anteaters are hitting .258 as a team. Head coach Charlie Brande (UC Irvine, 1969) is in his eighth season with the Anteaters and sports a 108-115 career and school record.

The Highlanders, who travel to Long Beach State on Friday, are 4-8 overall (0-1 Big West) heading into this week's action. UC Riverside, which has lost three straight matches, dropped its Big West opener in four games at UC Irvine last Thursday. Senior Angie Mitchell leads the Highlanders averaging 2.81 kills per game while sophomore Dominique Cowling is right behind at 2.76 kpg. Mitchell ranks fifth in the Big West in blocks at 1.15 per game and libero Kimberly McNeal ranks eighth in digs. Sophomore setter averages 10.58 assists per game as the Mustangs are hitting .195 as a team. Head coach Sue Gozansky (Cal Poly Pomona, 1968) is in his 38th season at UC Riverside and sports a 670-483-16 school record.