Challenges Ahead as Unbeaten Matadors Head to Denver Invitational



No. 24 Creighton Bluejays (5-1) vs. Cal State Northridge Matadors (6-0)

Friday, Sept. 13, 2013 - 10:00 a.m. MDT
Hamilton Gymnasium (2,500) - Denver, CO
Live Stats:
Streaming Video: none
Audio: none
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors


Cal State Northridge Matadors (6-0) vs. No. 11 UCLA Bruins (5-1)

Friday, Sept. 13, 2013 - 4:30 p.m. MDT
Hamilton Gymnasium (2,500) - Denver, CO
Live Stats:
Streaming Video: none
Audio: none
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors


Cal State Northridge Matadors (6-0) at Denver Pioneers (5-2)

Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 - 3:00 p.m. MDT
Hamilton Gymnasium (2,500) - Denver, CO
Live Stats:
Streaming Video: none
Audio: none
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors

Weekly Match Notes  

Cal State Northridge (6-0) remains on the road for the third weekend of the 2013 volleyball season as the Matadors travel to Denver, Colo. for the Denver Invitational Friday and Saturday. CSUN opens the tournament against No. 24 Creighton (5-1) Friday at 10 a.m. in the first of two matches the Matadors wiil play on day one. CSUN has a quick turnaround as they take on No. 11 UCLA (5-1) at 4:30 p.m. Saturday's schedule has the Matadors taking on the host Denver Pioneers (5-2) at 3 p.m.    

All three matches at the Denver Invitational will have live stats at All Matador home matches and conference road matches will be featured as part of the Big West live streaming package. BigWest.TV brings together live and on-demand video from each of the Big West's ten member institutions. Now in it's ninth year, BigWest.TV covers Big West sports, press conferences, interviews and features, including every home and conference contest in women's volleyball.

Cal State Northridge continued its unblemished start to the 2013 season winning all three matches at Northern Arizona's Fiesta Bowl Tournament. The Matadors opened with a five-set win over Idaho as Natalie Allen had a career-high 23 kills (.370), 18 digs and six blocks. Allen was one of four Matador hitters to register double figures in kills as senior Mahina Haina had 14 kills (.050) while Cieana Stinson (.391) and Casey Hinger (.250) each added 11. Kelcie Randazzo joined Allen with double digits in digs with 12 as CSUN out-dug the Vandals 69-56. Against San Diego State, senior Mahina Haina and Hinger each led the way with a match-high 14 kills as Hinger hit .440 in 25 swings to go with six blocks, five digs and two aces. Haina hit .297 on a team-high 37 attacks. Allen and Stinson also reached double figures with 13 kills apiece. Allen and Hinger then had a match-high 15 kills leading CSUN to the championship with a 20-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-10 victory over Northern Arizona.


• The Matadors are unbeaten through six matches for the first time since 1997 and are seeking the school's best start since Walt Ker's 1980 squad opened with 12 consecutive victories. With six wins to open the season, head coach Jeff Stork now has 150 career wins on the Matador bench and 172 overall as a head coach.

• After winning tournament championships at Fresno State and Northern Arizona over the last two weekends, CSUN takes on its most challenging tournament schedule this weekend in Denver. The four teams competing in the Mile-High City are a combined 21-4 this season. The Matadors open with No. 24 Creighton (5-1) who CSUN has met just one time (1997) in its history. A victory over No. 11 UCLA (5-1) on Friday would be the first in 15 tries for the Matadors against the Bruins. The two teams have met seven times over the last 10 seasons with UCLA coming out on top each time. CSUN and UCLA last met in 2011 when the Bruins won in straight sets at the Wooden Center. The Matadors have never played tournament host Denver (5-2).

• The Matadors will get their first test against a ranked opponent this weekend as both Creighton and UCLA are ranked among the AVCA Top-25. The Matadors have dropped their last six matches against ranked foes, two of those losses coming against UCLA in 2010 and 2011. CSUN's last win over a ranked team came in the season finale in 2008 when the Matadors upset No. 25 Long Beach State 19-25, 25-22, 25-23, 18-25, 15-10.

Following another unbeaten weekend at the Fiesta Bowl Tournament, Cal State Northridge earned a season-high 14 points in this week's AVCA Coaches Top-25 Poll. Last week, the Matadors earned six points which at the time was their highest point total since 1992. CSUN, which has now received votes in consecutive polls for the first time, was also listed in the others receiving votes section in the week one poll in 2012. Prior to 2012, the last time a Northridge team earned recognition in the national poll was 2003 when the Matadors earned four points in the Oct. 17 poll and five points in the Nov. 17 poll. The last time a CSUN women's volleyball team cracked the top-25 was the final poll of the 1992 season when the 27-8 Matadors finished ranked 25th.

In addition to the Fiesta Bowl Tournament championship, the Matadors had a trio of players named to the all-tournament team. Junior Natalie Allen was named tournament MVP while juniors Casey Hinger and Kelcie Randazzo were both named all-tournament. After being the tournament's top blocker at Fresno State, Hinger turned up her attacking at NAU hitting .333 in 78 swings while averaging 2.85 kills per set. Randazzo earned all-tournament honors for the first time in her career as she led the Matador back row with 42 digs (3.00 dps) which was second only to Allen's total of 47.

The Matadors, who have ranked at or near the top of the Big West in team aces this season, struck for a season-high 11 aces against San Diego State on Saturday. The total is the most by a CSUN team since serving up 15 aces against Hofstra on Aug. 26, 2006. The school record for most team aces in a match is 19 against Cal State Fullerton in 1991. Seven different players have recorded at least two aces this season as Sydney Gedryn leads the team with 10. Gedryn ranks third in the conference this season averaging 0.42 aces per set. 

Junior opposite Natalie Allen continued her strong start to the 2013 season as she was named Big West Conference Player of the Week. Allen was also named tournament MVP at Northern Arizona, her second such award in as many tournaments this season. Allen, who was also tournament MVP at Fresno State, had double-doubles in all three Matador wins. She fired a career-high 23 kills to go with a season-high 18 digs against Idaho while hitting .370 (23-6-46). The junior from Murrieta, Calif, also had six blocks. In the Matadors' second consecutive five-set win, Allen notched 13 kills and 17 digs to go along with three blocks against the Aztecs.  In the tournament championship match, the outside hitter hit .375 with 15 kills, 12 digs and four blocks as CSUN overcame a first set deficit to upend the Lumberjacks. Allen has now reeled off five consecutive double-doubles. For the week, she averaged 3.64 kills, 3.36 digs and 0.93 blocks while swinging at a .342 (51-13-111) clip. 

With 38 points in three Matador wins last weekend, senior Mahina Haina surpassed 1,000 points for her CSUN career. Haina now has 1,025 career points and is quickly closing in on 1,000 career kills. Heading into the weekend, the senior from Honolulu, Hawai'i has 931 career kills and 69 more will put her elite company. Only eight players in CSUN history have reached 1,000 career kills, the last being Angela Hupp (1,122) in 2009 ... Sophomore Steffi Miller provided a spark off the bench for the Matadors against Idaho. Subbing for starter Sydney Gedryn, Miller posted career-highs of 40 assists, five kills and seven digs. She helped the CSUN hitters to a .268 hitting clip over the final four sets including a .643 (10-1-14) clip in the decisive fifth set ... The Matadors did not commit a single hitting error in the fifth set against San Diego State while hitting .500 in 22 swings. In their four five-set wins this season, CSUN hitting a combined .468 as a team in the decisive fifth frame.

Following three matches in Denver this weekend, the Matadors will open up the 2013 home schedule on Tuesday, Sept. 17 against Seattle at 7 p.m.