LONG BEACH, Calif. - Cal State Northridge put a bit more distance between itself and second-place UC Santa Barbara after the 23rd-ranked Matadors came back to claim a five-set road win at Long Beach State Saturday night at Walter Pyramid.
The Matadors, now 21-4 overall and 11-1 in the Big West, increase their lead in the conference standings after No. 12 Hawai'i (9-3) won in five sets at UC Santa Barbara (8-2) on Saturday.
CSUN won the opening set 25-23 before dropping the next two sets to the host 49ers, 25-15 and 25-22. The Matadors then won a must-win fourth set 26-24 and then pulled away late to win the fifth 15-12. Northridge has now won four straight in the series with Long Beach, the longest streak for a Matador team in the series which dates back to 1978.
"That's a great win tonight," said CSUN Head Coach Jeff Stork. "The players rallied around each other and played their hearts out. That's what great teams have to do."
Junior Casey Hinger, who struck for a double-double (13k-13d) in Friday's win at UC Irvine, doubled up again against Long Beach with a career-high 22 kills to go with 12 digs. Hinger hit .347 in matching her career-high with 49 swings while also adding five blocks.
Sophomore Cieana Stinson rebounded from a recent rough stretch offensively to pound 16 kills while hitting .225 on 40 swings. Junior Natalie Allen also had 10 kills while committing just two errors in 25 attacks to hit .320 to go with 14 digs. Kelcie Randazzo (22) and Britney Graff (11) combined for 33 digs as CSUN had 79 digs as a team while out-hitting Long Beach by the slightest of margins, .234-.233.
The Matadors, who hit .200, pulled out the opening set 25-23 largely because the 49ers hit .079. Long Beach then turned in a dominating hitting effort (.455) in easily winning set two 25-15. Neither team hit particularly well in set three but the 49ers had enough to pull out a 25-22 victory.
Needing to win the final two sets, CSUN put together its best hitting performance of the night hitting .409 in pulling out the must-win 26-24 win. In the fifth, the Matadors led 14-9 late before the 49ers saved three match points before Hinger's 22nd kill of the night ended the match in CSUN's favor.
"We were a little flat in the middle of the match but then things started clicking and I think that deflated Long Beach a little bit," added Stork. "Overall it was a great win for us tonight."
Delainey Aigner-Swesey and Alex Reid each had 14 kills to lead the 49ers who dropped 13-11 overall and 6-5 in conference play.
Cal State Northridge is back in The Matadome next week to close the 2013 home schedule against Cal Poly (Nov. 14) and UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 16). The Matadors will honor seniors Sydney Gedryn, Britney Graff and Mahina Haina prior to the UCSB match on Saturday.
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