Matadors Conclude Preseason at No. 6 UCLA, at Home Against BYU

Weekly Match Notes (PDF)

Cal State Northridge (6-4, 0-0 Big West) wraps up the pre-Big West portion of the 2011 schedule this week as the Matadors travel to sixth-ranked UCLA (7-1) Monday and host BYU (9-2) Saturday. Northridge, winners of six of its last eight matches, claimed its second straight tournament championship last weekend after winning two of three matches at the UNLV Invitational. In three preseason tournaments this season the Matadors won six of their nine matches.

Monday's match at UCLA will be available via Gametracker at All Matador home matches will be part of the Big West live streaming package and will also feature live stats via Gametracker at The Big West Conference and the CBS College Sports Network are partnering to bring fans exclusive coverage of Big West sports, press conferences, interviews and features into your home via the Internet. Now in its seventh year, BigWest.TV covers every home and conference contest in women's volleyball.

After a disappointing loss earlier in the day, Cal State Northridge claimed its second straight tournament by turning back the host UNLV Rebels in five sets Saturday night at Cox Pavilion. The Matadors, who went undefeated in capturing the Sacramento State Invitational last weekend, won two of their three matches in Las Vegas, two by the slimmest of margins. Led by the MVP performance of freshman Casey Hinger, Northridge topped UNLV 23-25, 25-23, 25-16, 22-25, 16-14. Hinger had 15 kills against the Rebels while hitting .394 and adding four blocks and three digs. Sophomore Mahina Haina, who was also named to the All-Tournament team, matched Hinger with 15 kills (.268) while Britney Graff added 12 kills (.119) and Natalie Allen chipped in 11 kills (.122). Graff and Allen both completed double-doubles by adding 14 and 13 digs respectively. Setter Sydney Gedryn was on the verge of a triple-double by recording 60 assists, nine digs and eight kills while leading the Matadors to a .237 hitting clip. Sam Kaul equaled Gedryn with her season-high eight kills (.368) and libero Cindy Ortiz had a team-high 20 digs.

Sixth-ranked UCLA comes into Monday's match with a 7-1 season record. The Bruins split two matches last week, falling at Pepperdine (3-2) before sweeping ninth-ranked USC on the road. The loss to Pepperdine snapped a season-opening six-match win streak for UCLA. Junior OH Rachael Kidder leads the Bruins averaging 4.08 kills per set while UCLA is hitting .219 as a team. BYU heads into this week with a 9-2 record and a seven-match winning streak. The Cougars, who dropped just one set in winning the Utah Invitational last weekend, travel to Utah State on Tuesday and Cal State Fullerton on Friday before coming to The Matadome Saturday afternoon. Sophomore OPP Jennifer Hamson leads the BYU attack averaging 4.58 kps while hitting .338. As a team, the Cougars are hitting .246. A win over either team this week would be a first for the Matadors who are 0-13 all-time against UCLA and 0-5 against BYU.

Freshman middle blocker Casey Hinger (Fullerton, Calif.) became the second Matador player in as many weeks to take home tournament MVP honors when she earned the award in Las Vegas. Hinger averaged 2.60 kills per set while hitting nearly .300 in three matches while also recording 10 total blocks and four aces. She set a season-high with three aces against Southern Utah and her 15 kills against UNLV was also a season-high. Sophomore outside hitter Mahina Haina (Honolulu, Hawai'i) was also named to the UNLV Invitational All-Tournament team after averaging 2.85 kps. Haina has now earned all-tournament honors in all three tournaments this season and was selected MVP of the Sacramento State Invitational (Sept. 2-3).

With Saturday's 23-25, 25-23, 25-16, 22-25, 16-14 victory over UNLV, the Matadors remained unbeaten in matches that have gone five sets. Northridge topped Weber State in five (15-11 in the fifth) and then held off Eastern Washington (15-10) in the Matadors' first match last weekend. Conversely, Northridge went 3-4 in seven five-setters in 2010.  

Monday's match against sixth-ranked UCLA is Northridge's second opportunity to knock off a ranked opponent in 2011. The Matadors dropped a straight set decision (25-16, 25-20, 25-21) to ninth-ranked USC in their home opener last Tuesday. CSUN's season-opening opponent, Northwestern, received votes in the AVCA Top-25 poll and also defeated the Matadors in straight sets. The last time Northridge defeated a team ranked in the Top-25 was the 2008 season-finale when the Matadors upset Long Beach State in five sets (19-25, 25-22, 25-23, 18-25, 15-10).

The Matadors, traditionally one of the stronger serving teams in the Big West, have picked up where they left off in 2010. With 48 aces in 38 sets, CSUN leads the conference averaging 1.26 aces per set after 10 matches. Sophomore Sydney Gedryn (San Jose, Calif.) currently leads the Matadors with 12 aces (0.32 saps) which ranks third in the Big West. After leading the team for the first two weeks, sophomore Natalie Allen (Murrieta, Calif.) had just one ace in three matches in Las Vegas to up her season total to nine (0.29) which ranks seventh in the conference. Cindy Ortiz (Los Angles, Calif.) and Monica McFarland (Riverside, Calif.) are averaging 0.18 and 0.16 aces per set respectively which is just outside the top-10.

The Matadors are off to their best 10-match start since 2006 when they also opened 6-4. Six wins in 10 matches also matches CSUN's best start in 10 seasons under Jeff Stork ... Monday's match at UCLA wraps up a stretch where the Matadors played 10 of their first 11 matches on the road. Saturday's match against BYU opens up a stretch where CSUN will play three of the next four at home ... Several Matadors notched season and career-highs over the weekend at UNLV. Sophomore Britney Graff knocked down a season-high 15 kills against Southern Utah, Ortiz had a season-high 26 digs against Eastern Washington, Mariah Counts had a season-high six digs against Eastern Washington and Sam Kaul knocked down a season-high eight kills while hitting .368 against UNLV .

In the 37th season of women's volleyball at Cal State Northridge, the Matadors reached the 700-win plateau with their 3-0 win over Fresno State on Sept. 3. Now with 703 wins in 36+ years averages out to roughly 19 wins per season which was largely achieved during the programs heyday as a Division II school (1975-1989). Under the direction of Walt Ker, the Matadors posted 401 wins from 1979-1992, an average of nearly 29 wins per season. Since moving up to the Division I level in 1990, Northridge has 297 wins, including 29 in Ker's first Division I season (1990).

Matador head coach Jeff Stork shares his thoughts each week on the team, this week's opponents and other topics.

On the UNLV Invitational:
"Overall I think it was a great weekend for us. We came out 2-1 with a disappointing loss to Southern Utah, but I thought we played three tough teams. We were 1-1 going into the UNLV match and we knew that if we won that match we would win the tournament so there was some added focus on our end. We passed unbelievably well against UNLV which kept us in system and enabled us to do more things."

On the play of freshman Casey Hinger:
"Casey is learning as she's going. She is starting to connect better with Sydney (Gedryn) and we're having her do a couple of things to augment her ability to move. She's exceptionally quick and very explosive and dynamic in short distance approaches. And again, Sydney is gaining more confidence in Casey as an attacker."

On the shaping of the starting lineup:
"I believe we're starting to settle in on what we believe will be our starting lineup. We're giving some players some good looks and as we go through this we've just got to stay healthy and make improvements every day."

On the upcoming matches at UCLA and vs. BYU:
"We go into a good opponents home at UCLA so I'm curious to see how we handle that pressure. Starting mostly a group of underclassmen I'll be looking at our composure and how we analyze how each point is going to be played. UCLA is a quality team but we're playing with a lot of confidence right now. It will be up to our attackers to terminate the ball. I know BYU is coached well and has a lot of good players but we'll start looking at them on film Tuesday."

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