Matadors Begin Final Road Trip of 2011 Wednesday at UC Santa Barbara

Match #25 (Big West Match #13):

Cal State Northridge Matadors (13-11, 7-5 Big West) at UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (14-11, 7-5 Big West) 

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011 - 7:30 p.m. PST
The Thunderdome (6,000) - Santa Barbara, Calif.
Streaming Video: BigWest.TV
Audio: (Mark Schuerman - PBP)

Weekly Match Notes (PDF)

Match #26 (Big West Match #14):

Northridge Matadors (13-11, 7-5 Big West) at UC Irvine Anteaters (10-14, 4-8 Big West) 

Friday, Nov. 11, 2011 - 7 p.m. PST
Bren Events Center (5,000) - Irvine, Calif.
Streaming Video: BigWest.TV
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors


After moving up into a tie for second-place in the Big West Conference, Cal State Northridge (13-11, 7-5 Big West) looks to continue its recent run of solid play as the Matadors take to the road for the final time in the 2011 regular season this week. CSUN travels to UC Santa Barbara (14-11, 7-5 Big West) on Wednesday and UC Irvine (10-14, 4-8 Big West) on Friday. The Matadors, winners of five of their last six matches, swept both UC Davis and Pacific in The Matadome last weekend. Northridge returns home on Nov. 18 to host the Gauchos to begin a regular season-ending three-match homestand.


All Matador home matches and conference road matches will be featured as part of the Big West live streaming package. Both matches this week will also feature live stats at Wednesday's match at UC Santa Barbara will also be broadcast live at with Mark Schuerman handling the play-by-play. 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 seventh year, BigWest.TV covers every home and conference contest in women's volleyball. 


Cal State Northridge put together one of its best all-around matches of the season as the Matadors swept UC Davis 25-23, 25-16, 25-17 in a Big West match Friday night at The Matadome. Northridge shattered its season-high by hitting .465 as a team as no Matador hitter hit less than .353. Sophomore Mahina led the charge with a match-high 15 kills (.379) while Casey Hinger and Natalie Allen each added 12 kills. Hinger hit .750 in 16 swings with no hitting errors while Allen checked in at .391 in 23 attacks. Sophomore setter Sydney Gedryn had 48 assists in three sets leading a balanced attack that committed just eight hitting errors in 101 swings. The Matadors also had 46 team digs with 21 coming from junior libero Cindy Ortiz. On Saturday, CSUN wrapped up an impressive weekend with its second straight sweep, this time 25-23, 33-31, 25-18 over Pacific. After taking care of UC Davis in straight sets on Friday, Allen and Haina led the charge as each put down a team-high 12 kills with Allen adding 11 digs for her team-leading eighth double-double this season. Hinger added 11 kills while hitting .364 in 22 swings and also added a pair of aces and seven blocks.


Second place in the Big West is on the line Wednesday as the Matadors will look to erase some demons and move into sole possession of second behind Long Beach State. CSUN last beat the Gauchos in Santa Barbara in 2007 and the Matadors are 2-15 all-time in The Thunderdome. The loser of Wednesday's match will be eliminated from the conference race while the winner is still just one Long Beach State win from being eliminated from title contention. The 49ers (11-2) currently hold a 3.5 game lead over both the Matadors and Gauchos with just two weeks to go in the conference season. CSUN and UCSB are meeting for the first time in 2011 on Wednesday and will meet again in Northridge on Friday, Nov. 18. The Matadors claimed the first match with UC Irvine back on Oct. 15 in The Matadome and have now won two of the last three over the Anteaters. CSUN is 7-13 all-time in 20 matches in Irvine.


Sophomore Mahina Haina continues to lead the Matadors in kills averaging 3.42 kps which ranks ninth in the Big West. Freshman Casey Hinger is the conference's eighth-leading hitter at .289 and also ranks fourth in the Big West in blocking. Stacey Schmidt and Leah Sully pace the UC Santa Barbara offense averaging 2.90 and 2.89 kps respectively while the Gauchos are the conference's best digging team at 17.73 per set. For UC Irvine, Aly Squires averages a team-high 3.47 kills per set which is good for eighth in the conference.


Northridge's three-set sweep over UC Davis was by far the Matadors best hitting effort of the season but also one of the top performances in school history. Since 1996, no other CSUN team has hit higher in a single match than the Matadors accomplished Friday against the Aggies. CSUN's hitting clip of .465 was third-best in school history ranking only behind a .493 clip against Bucknell in 1996 and a .469 clip against Chapman in 1986.


With home wins over UC Davis and Pacific last weekend, the Matadors improved to 5-1 at home in six Big West matches. CSUN did not drop a single set in the two matches and have now won 16 sets at home in six conference matches while dropping just five sets. In addition to UC Davis and Pacific, the Matadors have also swept Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine on The Matadome floor.


Cal State Northridge middle blocker Casey Hinger was named Big West Player of the Week after leading the Matadors to pair of conference sweeps over UC Davis and Pacific last weekend. Hinger, a freshman from Fullerton, Calif., becomes the second Northridge player in 2011 to earn Big West Player of the Week honors after sophomore Mahina Haina picked up the award on Sept. 5. In leading the Matadors to a pair of impressive home sweeps over UC Davis and Pacific last weekend, Hinger becomes the first freshman to be honored as the conference's Player of the Week in 2011. Hinger began the weekend with 12 kills in 16 errorless swings to hit .750 as CSUN swept UC Davis 25-23, 25-16, 25-17 on Friday. She also added four blocks, one ace and one dig in the win. Hinger then came back with 11 kills and a .364 hitting clip in a 25-23, 33-31, 25-18 win over Pacific on Saturday. In the two matches, the freshman from Fullerton averaged 3.83 kills per set while hitting .526. She also averaged a team-high 1.83 blocks per set in the two wins.


Through matches of Nov. 7, the Matadors continue to move up in the NCAA women's volleyball RPI. Last week, CSUN ranked 135th out of 327 Division I schools and after sweeping both UC Davis and Pacific last week, the Matadors have moved up to a season-high 119th. The Big West ranks among the top-10 conferences in the country again this season while four conference teams currently rank inside the top-100: Long Beach State (50th), UC Santa Barbara (58th), Pacific (84th) and UC Davis (91st).


Junior libero Cindy Ortiz had 40 digs in two wins last week, averaging 6.67 digs per set. Ortiz scooped up 21 digs in three sets against UC Davis then added 19 against Pacific. Ortiz now ranks third in the Big West at 4.40 digs per set ... Sam Kaul has boosted her hitting percentage this season to .276 while Hinger leads the team at .289 ... Natalie Allen hit a solid .333 in two matches last week to up her hitting percentage to .154. As recently as Oct. 1, Allen was hitting .112 for the season but is hitting nearly .220 over her last nine matches.


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

On improving to 5-1 at home in Big West play:

"Obviously we're 5-1 at home in conference which is a real good record but my hope is that on Wednesday we'll improve our road record to 3-4. I think the thing I'm happier about is winning five of our last six matches. That's something that's propelled us into the position that we're in right now."

On the Matadors' hitting against UC Davis:

"When you can hit that high with 18-19 kills in one set you're doing some really good things offensively. I'm sure it had to do with the passing, it had to do with the set location and it had to do with the hitters understanding where they are and what the defensive patterns were so it's a combination of everything. My hope is that we can continue to repeat that kind of performance."

On the final road trip to UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine:

"Going into Wednesday's match being tied for second with Santa Barbara, there's a lot of motivation for us to prepare for the match and play well. The other thing we've talked about quite a bit is the teams' that are going to rise to the top are the teams that can pull off a win on the road. The Irvine match on Friday is another away match so the girls understand that and that's what we'll prepare for."

On playing the Gauchos for the first time this late in the season:

"I think one of the things that happens is that since it's so late in the season, you've watched so much video that just by chance you've seen a lot of that team. There are no secrets, we know what they're going to do and we're familiar with their tendencies so I'll be curious to see how we respond."


Following the two road matches this week, Northridge returns home on Nov. 18 to host the Gauchos to begin a regular season-ending three-match homestand. The Big West season closes when the Matadors host Cal Poly on Nov. 19 but CSUN will play one final home match on Nov. 25 as the Matadors host Air Force in a non-conference match at noon.


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