FULLERTON, Calif. - Mahina Haina, Casey Hinger and Cieana Stinson each had a team-high 10 kills as Cal State Northridge remained unbeaten in Big West play after sweeping Cal State Fullerton 25-23, 25-12, 26-24 Saturday at Titan Gym.
At 3-0 in the Big West, the Matadors (13-3 overall) are off to their best conference start since winning three straight to open the 2006 Big West campaign.
"We played a good Fullerton team so we're excited to come out with a 3-0 win," said CSUN head coach Jeff Stork. "Obviously we're doing some good things both offensively and defensively."
The Matadors were led by the trio of Haina, Hinger and Stinson who combined for 30 kills while hitting .310 on 73 swings. As a team, CSUN hit .225, their lowest percentage since hitting .191 against Washington on Sept. 20 but the Matadors limited the Titans to an .088 hitting clip after holding UC Riverside to a negative hitting number on Friday. Natalie Allen, the Matadors' leader in kills, was limited to seven kills (.000) but did have 13 digs and four assists.
"They did a good job neutralizing Nat but she did a lot of other things to be a catalyst for the team," added Stork. "I thought we made too many errors against UC Davis the other night but we were able to cut that down some tonight."
Matador setter Sydney Gedryn registered 34 assists but also had six kills, nine digs and a pair of aces. Libero Kelcie Randazzo had a match-high 14 digs as CSUN had 54 team digs to 49 for Fullerton. The Matador back row also did not surrender an ace to the Titans.
The Matadors trailed by four (21-17) late in the opening set before closing the set with an 8-2 spurt. Following a CSUN timeout at 21-17, a pair of kills from Allem, a Gedryn kill and a Britney Graff ace pulled the Matadors even. A Titan kill ended the run, but the first of two Gedryn kills down the stretch pulled CSUN even and propelled the Matadors on a set-clinching 4-1 run.
Despite winning set two by the wide margin of 25-12, CSUN trailed early on 7-4. But the Matadors rolled off 11 straight points before the Titans scored again. Leading 15-7, the Matadors opened up an 11-point cushion (21-10) following a Stinson kill. Still leading by 11 (23-12), a co-block from Hinger and Stinson and a Gedryn kill put CSUN up two sets.
The final set was tight at 13-13 when the Matadors claimed seven of the next 10 points to open up a 20-16 lead. Fullerton would not go away however and cut the lead to 20-19 following an Allen hitting error. The two teams traded sideouts until 23-22 when CSUN got a kill from Allen to set the Matadors up with set point. The Titans saved two match points, ultimately tying the score at 24-24 but kills from Stinson and Haina closed out Fullerton in three.
Fullerton was led by Faith Rockmore who had a career-high 11 kills (.350) while Leah Best added eight kills (.286) and four blocks.
Cal State Northridge returns home next week to open up a two-match homestand against Long Beach State (Oct. 10) and UC Irvine (Oct. 12).
"Long Beach is a talented team and UC Irvine has always given us problems so we need to continue to work hard on the process of becoming a great team," said Stork.
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