Matadors Look to Reverse Road Fortunes at Cal State Fullerton, No. 25 Long Beach State This Week

Oct. 14, 2009

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FOR STARTERS After nailing down its first conference win on Saturday, Cal State Northridge (5-13, 1-4 Big West) continues Big West play this week as the Matadors head back out in the road traveling to Cal State Fullerton (11-7, 2-3 Big West) on Friday and No. 25 Long Beach State (11-4, 4-1 Big West) on Saturday. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.

TO RECAP After falling to No. 23 UC Irvine in four sets and Cal Poly in five, the Matadors snapped their five-match skid as the trio of Britney Graff, Angela Hupp and Brittany Williams combined for 35 of Northridge's 50 kills as the Matadors notched their first conference win with an 18-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-20 victory over UC Riverside on Saturday. Hupp and Williams both led the way for Northridge with 12 kills as Williams hit .310 and Hupp .241. Williams also added a career-high two aces and four blocks while Hupp dished out 17 assists to go with seven digs and four blocks. Graff also reached double figures with 11 kills (.167) and completed the double-double effort by adding 10 digs. Sam Orlandini also had a double-double with 24 assists and 10 digs and Tela Burnett added six blocks.

WIN OVER UC RIVERSIDE SNAPS FIVE-MATCH SKID The Matadors opened the week with a hard-fought four-set loss to No. 23 UC Irvine and the week grew tougher with a five-set loss to Cal Poly that saw the Mustangs win the final three sets. The week's action, in which Northridge could have gone 3-0, concluded with a four-set win over UC Riverside in which the Matadors dominated the final three sets.

"I think we're playing pretty well right now," said Head Coach Jeff Stork. "Obviously there's room for improvement in certain areas mostly on the offensive side but our serve-block defense continues to be strong.

"Statistically, I think we played a better overall match than Irvine did, but they won the close sets," said Stork. "Against Cal Poly, we started off real strong both offensively and defensively but then the offense slid off and we stopped siding out.

"Obviously against Riverside it was two teams desperate for a win," said Stork. "It was a strong point-scoring night for us but again a few too many errors. We need to increase our siding out by a couple of percentage points and I think a key to that will be our ability to pass the ball and stay in system."

MATADORS LOOK TO REVERSE ROAD FORTUNES Despite winning three matches away from The Matadome, Northridge has won just once in eight tries on an opposing teams' home court. The Matadors, who have six road matches remaining in the regular season, have two chances to improve their standing this week at Fullerton and Long Beach. Northridge won four of 12 on the road in 2008 but only one was in Big West play, at UC Davis.

"When you travel on the road the variables expand and you don't have as much control of those variables as you do at home,". said Stork. "Experience gives you the ability to not make road matches a big deal."

MCFARLAND BACK IN AT LIBERO After not starting the final two matches of the recent road trip, redshirt freshman Monica McFarland was back in as the starting libero in all three matches last week. McFarland responded with 15 digs against UC Irvine, 16 against Cal Poly and 18 against UC Riverside. She currently leads the Matadors and ranks ninth in the Big West averaging 3.43 digs per set.

"The key to Monica's game is the speed in which she plays," said Stork. "She reads extremely well, defends very well and her pursuit skills are very good. There's also a benefit to Monica's ability to cover more space and she keeps balls alive that a lot of our players don't keep alive."

HUPP TRIPLES AND DOUBLES Senior Angela Hupp added another triple-double to her stat sheet against 23rd-ranked UC Irvine and now has 12 in her Northridge career. With 10 kills and 31 assists against Cal Poly and 12 kills and 19 assists against UC Riverside, Hupp added to her team-leading total of double-doubles to 10. The senior from Acton, Calif., now has an amazing 35 double-doubles in her Matador career. She also leads Northridge in double figure kill efforts this season (15) as well as leading the team in kills (236) and attempts (684). Hupp ranks second on the squad in assists (129), aces (15) and blocks (59) and is third in digs (164).

BURNETT, JOHNSON TEAM UP IN THE MIDDLE With Lynda Morales moving to the opposite hitter spot, senior Tela Burnett and junior Chelsea Johnson are now starting in the middle. Burnett has been steady at the net as she has ranked among the top blockers in the Big West for much of the season. She had seven blocks in three straight matches over the past two weeks and currently ranks third in the conference averaging 1.15 blocks/set. Burnett also took a season-high 14 swings against No. 23 UC Irvine added six kills against UC Riverside. Meanwhile, Johnson also took on a more offensive role, taking a career-high 12 swings against UC Irvine and 11 more against Cal Poly. She had a career-high five kills in each match and also added six blocks against the Anteaters.

NORTHRIDGE NOTES The Matadors have lost 13 matches but only four have come in straight sets. Long Beach State and Pacific are the only two teams in the Big West that have not been swept this season. UC Riverside has been a league-high swept eight times while Cal Poly has been swept seven times ... Junior Cindy Ortiz made her Northridge debut against UC Irvine on Tuesday and recorded the first ace of her career. Ortiz also notched her first dig which resulted in her first kill against UC Riverside on Saturday.

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.

SCOUTING CAL STATE FULLERTON The Titans come into Friday's match with an overall record of 11-7 (2-3 Big West). After a stretch where Fullerton won four of six matches, the Titans lost a pair of road matches at UC Davis and Pacific last week. Junior MB Erin Saddler leads Fullerton averaging 4.70 k/s which also leads the Big West.

SCOUTING LONG BEACH STATE The 49ers (11-4, 4-1) travel to UC Irvine on Friday before hosting the Matadors on Saturday. Long Beach, which had its seven-match win streak snapped with a 3-1 loss at Pacific last weekend, is led by senior MB Naomi Washington who averages 4.14 k/s which ranks third in the Big West.

SERIES HISTORY Northridge holds a 21-8 lead in the all-time series with Cal State Fullerton and trails 18-5 in 23 meetings all-time with Long Beach State.

UP NEXT Following the two-match road trip, the Matadors return home to open up a season-long, four-match homestand Oct. 23 against Pacific. Northridge will also host UC Davis (Oct. 24), CSU Bakersfield (Oct. 20) and UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 3) during the homestand.

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