SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - The Cal State Northridge offense struggled in its season-opener as the Matadors fell to Northwestern 25-20, 25-22, 25-15 in the opening match of the Utah Classic at Crimson Court. Sophomore outside hitter Mahina Haina led CSUN with 10 kills in the loss.
The Matadors (0-1) didn't help themselves on offense hitting just .027 for the match. CSUN was out-hit .353-.111 in the first set, .077-.000 in the second and .135 to -.026 in the final set. Haina paced the Matadors with 10 kills while hitting .121. In her first match in more than a year, Britney Graff finished with seven kills (.083) and eight digs. Casey Hinger had five kills (.071) and four blocks in her collegiate debut.
"The silver lining was we passed extremely well and we blocked pretty well," said head coach Jeff Stork. "We just didn't generate enough offense and we found ourselves out of system quite a bit and didn't react real well in those situations."
The Matadors stayed close in the opening set trailing just 17-16 following a Graff kill. But back-to-back Wildcat kills boosted the lead back to three at 19-16. Northwestern opened up a late 21-17 lead before a Haina-Nicole Jarvis block, a Natalie Allen ace and an Allen kill got CSUN as close as they would get at 22-20.
Northwestern opened up a 9-5 lead in set two before a pair of Wildcat miscues pulled the Matadors within 9-7. Three straight ensuing points gave the Wildcats a five-point cushion at 12-7 forcing the Matadors to use their first timeout. The timeout however did not stem the tide as Northwestern rolled off two more points to take its largest lead of the set 14-7. Trailing 15-8, the Matadors again took advantage of a pair of Wildcat errors and a Haina kill to get within four at 15-11. CSUN pulled within three at 20-17 after a Graff kill and a Julie Chin hitting error forcing the Wildcats to utilyze a timeout. CSUN eventually pulled within 21-20 on a Graff kill but again the Wildcats answered with a pair of kills to all but seal the set.
The final set was all Northwestern as the Wildcats led from start to finish. After trailing by as many as eight (15-7) the Matadors chipped away at the lead on kills from Haina and Hinger and pair of blocks by Hinger and company to close within 15-11. But an ensuing 7-0 Wildcat run propelled Northwestern to the 25-15 win.
Stephanie Holthus had a match-high 16 kills to lead the Wildcats (1-0) who hit .182 as a team. Northwestern setter Madalyn Shalter posted 36 assists and seven digs in the win.
Cal State Northridge continues action at the Utah Classic on Saturday as the Matadors meet the host Utes at 11 a.m. followed by a 4 p.m. contest with Weber State.
- GO MATADORS -