Matadors Travel to UC Davis, Pacific Seeking Conference Wins

Sept. 29, 2010

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Cal State Northridge (6-10, 0-2 Big West) heads to Northern California this week looking to end its three-match skid as well as pick up its first Big West Conference win. The Matadors travel to UC Davis (10-4, 2-0 Big West) Friday at 7 p.m., followed by a match in Stockton against the Pacific Tigers (8-5, 1-1 Big West) Saturday at 7 p.m. Northridge was denied its first home win last week as the Matadors fell to Loyola Marymount (3-1), UC Santa Barbara (3-2) and Cal Poly (3-0).

Both matches this week will be available as part of the Big West live streaming package. Both matches will also feature live stats via Gametracker at The Big West Conference and the CBS College Sports Network are partnering to bring fans exclusive coverage of Big West sports, press conferences, interviews and features into your home via the Internet! Now in its sixth year, BigWest.TV covers every home and conference contest in women's volleyball. A monthly subscription of $9.95 or an annual subscription of $79.95 delivers exclusive cover age to you. If you can't make it to the gym, you can still catch all the action on BigWest.TV!

Freshman outside hitter Mahina Haina pounded a career-high 19 kills but visiting Loyola Marymount used a hitting and blocking advantage to top the Matadors 25-21, 25-27, 25-21, 25-23 last Tuesday. The Lions (7-6) who out-hit Northridge .333 to .236 and out-blocked the Matadors 13.0 to 8.0. Haina had 19 kills in a career-high 51 swings to hit .255. Fellow freshman Natalie Allen added 13 kills (.219), two aces and five digs and sophomore Monica McFarland chipped in eight kills (.267) and 10 digs and libero Cindy Ortiz posted a team-high 17 digs. Haina then pounded a team-high 17 kills (.191) to go with seven digs and three aces but CSUN fell in five sets (25-16, 28-26, 19-25, 24-26, 15-10) to visiting UCSB. Senior Janet Alvarado came off the bench to put down a career-high 14 kills (.200) and Allen added 12 kills (.233), seven digs and a pair of aces. Sam Orlandini posted her fourth double-double of the season with 52 assists and 11 digs while also recording two solo blocks. Seeking its first home win in four tries this season on Saturday, Northridge was turned back in straight sets by visiting Cal Poly 25-22, 25-23, 25-19. Haina again led the Matadors with 12 kills but hit just .067 on the night. Monica McFarland added 11 kills (.216) and nine digs while Natalie Allen and Lynda Morales both notched eight kills. Northridge hit .156 (44-22-141) as a team while Cal Poly posted a .221 (39-14-113) hitting clip.

UC Davis carries a 10-4 (2-0) record and five-match win streak into Friday's match in Davis. The Aggies won their first two conference matches last week defeating Pacific in five sets and beating UC Riverside in four. Sophomore OH Allison Whitson leads UCD averaging 3.23 kps while hitting .193. The Matadors lead 8-6 in the all-time series with the Aggies but UC Davis has won four of the last five matches between the two teams. Pacific is 8-5 (1-1) after splitting its first two conference matches last week. The Tigers dropped their Big West opener in five sets at UC Davis before winning in straight sets at UC Riverside. Senior OH Svenja Engelhardt leads the Big West averaging 4.41 kills per set. CSUN trails 11-8 in the all-time series with Pacific and the two teams have split the two regular season meetings in each of the last two seasons.

Freshman Mahina Haina (Honolulu, Hawai'i) got her first Big West season off to a strong start with 17 kills, three aces, seven digs and one solo block in the Matadors' five-set loss to UCSB. Haina then added 12 kills, three digs and a pair of blocks against Cal Poly. For the season, she is averaging 3.31 kps, but is averaging 3.62 kps in two conference matches which ranks seventh among Big West hitters. Junior Sam Orlandini (La Cañada, Calif.) is also off to a solid start in the setting department. Orlandini, who averaged 7.49 assists per set a season ago, is averaging a career-best 10.03 aps so far in 2010. Her assist average ranks seventh overall in the Big West, but after two conference matches, Orlandini is averaging 10.88 aps, tied for first among Big West setters.

Senior Lynda Morales (Fallbrook, Calif.) and Orlandini continue to make inroads on the Northridge career charts in 2010. Morales, who came into her final season ranked fifth in career block assists and seventh in career total blocks, is now third in block assists (369) and is tied for fourth in total blocks (398). Morales is also just 29 sets away from entering the top-10 in career sets played. Orlandini, who came into her junior season ranked eighth in career assists, has jumped four spots to fourth with 2,191 helpers.

Now in their 10th season in the Big West season, the Matadors have won four of their previous nine conference road openers. The last Northridge win in a Big West road opener came in 2007 when the Matadors topped UCSB in five sets. Since then, CSUN lost at UC Irvine (2008) and UC Davis last season.

The Matadors have had to make do without senior Brittany Williams and sophomore Britney Graff for a majority of the 2010 season. Last season, the pair of outside hitters combined for 554 of 1,348 of Northridge's kills, or 41% of the Matador offense. Williams, who had 267 kills as a junior last season before suffering a season-ending injury at UC Irvine on Nov. 7, has yet to fully recover from her injury and has played sparingly this season. She has appeared in five matches, playing in portions of six sets and has five kills in 22 swings. Graff, who was named to the 2009 Big West All-Freshman Team after putting down 287 kills (2.66 kps), will redshirt the 2010 season due to injury.

The Matadors are still seeking their first home win and will get their next chance against CSU Bakersfield on Oct. 6. The 2008 Northridge squad lost its first six home matches on their way to posting a 2-8 home mark. Incidentally, the Matadors are now 6-19 over their last 25 home matches but still have a more than respectable 231-122 (.654) record at The Matadome since 1978 ... Northridge has now dropped its first two Big West matches for the second straight season ... Monica McFarland and Natalie Allen, who carried the Matador offense for much of the non-conference season, have each tailed off a bit of late. McFarland had double figures in kills in seven of Northridge's first 10 matches, including a career-high 19 kills at Sacramento State. But since then, the sophomore has reached double figures just once in the past six outings. Senior Janet Alvarado has taken some of those kill attempts as she has taken 103 swings in the last six matches after taking just 106 swings over the first 10 matches of the season. Allen, who has been slowed recently by illness, hit a season-high .405 against UTSA on Sept. 4 but has not hit higher than .296 since then. The freshman from Murrieta, Calif., has still had a solid first season as she has a team-high 190 kills (3.02 kps) and has taken a team-high 505 swings. She is also second on the team with 16 aces, third with 36 blocks and fifth with 118 digs.

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

On opening Big West play last weekend:
"We made some good adjustments against Santa Barbara. We came out flat extremely in the first set but the second we had a swing to win the set, so we created that opportunity. A lot of that was the adjustments we made with our offense against their defense, putting the ball in some good spots. We got to 20-20 in the first and second sets against Cal Poly and they would go on a small run, but I definitely thought we were in that match. I'm still happy with how we're doing things offensively. I still think we're getting the kills we need unfortunately our hitting percentage is not where I think it should be."

On the teams' play late in sets:
"I think we need to do a better job in critical situations. We've come to end of a couple sets where our opponent is playing better than we are. There's been numerous times where we get to 20 first and then lose the lead late in the set. It seems the breakdown comes from a passing situation compounded by a setting location compounded by hitters trying to do too much in trying to get the kill."

On the upcoming weekend at UC Davis and Pacific:
"Both UC Davis and Pacific are good teams that play different styles. Obviously Davis has come on pretty strong, they have a lot of good players. Certainly if you look at our conference as a whole, it's moving up. Most of the conference is in the top 90 of the RPI so it's definitely a difficult conference. We've got to continue to improve in some areas and secure some more wins."

Following this week's trip to Northern California, the Matadors take a brief break in the Big West schedule to host CSU Bakersfield on Wednesday, Oct. 6. Conference play resumes Saturday, Oct. 9 as Northridge hosts UC Riverside.