Sophomore Mahina Haina pounded a career-high 28 kills to lead Cal State Northridge to its first win of the 2011 season as the Matadors defeated Weber State in a five-set thriller (25-19, 27-25, 23-25, 21-25, 15-11) Saturday at Crimson Court.
With the win, CSUN finishes the Utah Classic at 1-2 after falling to the host Utes earlier in the day.
Haina, who's previous high in kills was 19 against Loyola Marymount in 2010, hit an impressive .468 in 47 swings. The sophomore from Honolulu, Hawai'i committed just six hitting errors and also added three digs and one block assist.
After struggling on the offensive side over their first two matches, the Matadors also got 16 kills (.083) from senior Una Siljegovic and 12 kills (.118) and 11 digs from sophomore Britney Graff. Freshman Casey Hinger also chipped in nine kills (.115), four digs and four blocks.
Sophomore setter Sydney Gedryn also shattered her previous career-high in assists (32) with 61 while leading CSUN to a .174 hitting clip. In addition to three aces, she also continued her stellar blocking with six assisted stuffs giving her 13 total blocks in three matches.
"One of the things that was steadfast the entire weekend was our passing," said head coach Jeff Stork. "The other thing we noticed is that we had two or three freshman step up big for us. We had some strong serving and some crucial digs."
A Gedryn ace put the Matadors in front 18-14 and a Haina kill kept CSUN up by four at 19-15. The Matadors took their biggest lead (20-15) after a McFarland ace forcing the Wildcats into a timeout. Northridge still led by five at 22-17 before a pair of Weber State kills pulled the Wildcats within two at 22-19. A Weber State hitting error and a Kelcie Randazzo gave the Matadors set point and CSUN cashed in on Haina's sixth kill of the frame.
Looking to build on the momentum from their first set win of the season, the Matadors jumped out to a 7-3 lead following a Gedryn ace. A Siljegovic kill kept CSUN up by four at 10-6 before the Wildcats tallied eight of the next nine points to open up a 14-11 lead. The Weber State lead swelled to 19-13 after Nicole Jarvis' attack went wide. A Hinger hitting error put the Wildcats comfortably in front 23-17 before the Matadors engineered a 7-1 run, behind Siljegovic's four kills, to knot the score at 24-24.
A Briana Wilms kill gave Weber State set point at 25-24 before a Wildcat hitting error followed by a pair of Haina kills gave CSUN the improbable comeback win and a two-set lead.
Set three also came down to the wire as the two teams battled to a 22-22 tie. A Graff kill temporarily pulled the Matadors even for the final time at 24-24 before Bethany Wray put down a kill and the Wildcats teamed up to stuff Siljegovic on set point.
As CSUN did in set two, Weber State built on its momentum in the fourth set, jumping out to a 13-6 lead. Down 15-9, the Matadors used kills from Gedryn and Haina along with a pair of Gedryn-Jarvis blocks and a Wildcat hitting error to pull within 15-14. Weber State boosted its lead back to four at 18-14 before CSUN mounted another charge, this time pulling even at 21-21 following a Graff kill. But the Wildcats answered with four straight points to force a decisive fifth set.
After two early ties in the fifth set, the Matadors built their lead to 8-5 following an Ortiz ace. The Wildcats then answered with a 3-0 run to knot the score for the final time. An ensuing 4-0 Northridge run, highlighted by a pair of Hinger kills put the Matadors in front to stay and the Matadors had their first win on Haina's 28th and final kill on match point.
"Northwestern and Utah are real good teams and Utah played very well against us," Stork said about the weekend's matches. "We know we have some things to work on. We were kept out of our rhythm by two really good teams but bounced back with a great effort against Weber State."
Cal State Northridge continues its tournament schedule next weekend as the Matadors compete in the Sacramento State Invitational (Sept. 2-3).
- GO MATADORS -