Big West Season Opens With Matadors Traveling to UC Riverside

Weekly Match Notes (PDF)

Match #13

Northridge Matadors (6-6, 0-0 Big West) at UC Riverside Highlanders (3-10, 0-0 Big West)

Saturday, September 24, 2011 - 7 p.m. PDT

Student Rec Center (1,922) - Riverside, Calif.

Live Stats:

Live Video: BigWest.TV

With 12 matches in the books, Cal State Northridge (6-6, 0-0 Big West) turns the page on the pre-conference schedule as the Matadors begin their gauntlet of Big West matches Saturday at UC Riverside (3-10, 0-0 Big West). The conference opener at UCR's Student Recreation Center is scheduled for a 7 p.m. first serve. CSUN concluded the pre-conference portion of the 2011 schedule with losses at sixth-ranked UCLA (3-0) and at home to BYU (3-1) last week. Still, the Matadors head into the conference season with their best overall record since 2006 when Northridge was 6-4 when Big West play began.

Saturday's match at UC Riverside will be available via Big West TV as well as Live Stats ( 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.

Cal State Northridge threatened early and late, but sixth-ranked UCLA dashed any Matador upset hopes and defeated CSUN in straight sets (25-22, 25-17, 25-17) Monday night at the Wooden Center. The Matadors opened up a four-point lead in the opening set and led by as many as six points in the third set but the Bruins overcame each and every CSUN lead on their way to the straight set win. Freshman Casey Hinger's seven kills (.158), six blocks and five digs led the Matadors, while Sam Kaul (.333) and Mahina Haina (.160) each added six kills. Northridge hit just .079 against the Bruins but did out-block UCLA 8.0-5.0. Cindy Ortiz had a match-high 19 digs in the loss. On Saturday, Cal State Northridge extended the visiting BYU Cougars to four sets in a Saturday matinee before falling 25-15, 25-22,16-25, 25-17 at The Matadome. The Matadors (6-6) were paced in the loss by Mahina Haina's 13 kills (.258) while Casey Hinger added eight kills (.227) and four blocks. Natalie Allen chipped in seven kills but struggled on the offensive end hitting .-030. Allen did add two aces, 11 digs and three blocks in the loss. Libero Cindy Ortiz led a trio of Matadors with double figures in digs with 20.

UC Riverside comes into Saturday's Big West opener against the Matadors with a 3-10 season record. The Highlanders opened the season with losses in nine of their first 10 matches but have since won two of three including sweeps over Loyola Marymount and CSU Bakersfield last weekend. Junior OH Amanda Vialpando leads UCR averaging 3.83 kills per set which ranks fourth in the Big West. The Highlanders are hitting .161 as a team. Northridge claimed both matches against UCR last season winning in four at CSUN and also in four in Riverside. The Matadors, who own a 43-19 edge in the all-time series, have won seven of the last 10 matches between the two team since the 2006 season. Since both teams joined the Big West in 2001, Northridge is 14-6 against the Highlanders.

Northridge carries an overall record of 18-9 (.667) in conference openers into Saturday's match at UC Riverside. The Matadors have had some success in Big West openers under Jeff Stork where CSUN has won four openers in nine seasons. Last season, the Matadors nearly overcame a two-set deficit at home to UC Santa Barbara before falling 15-10 in the fifth set. Northridge has now dropped three straight Big West openers in five sets, to UCSB in 2008 and 2010 and UC Davis in 2009. The Matadors, who finished seventh in the Big West last season, have finished as high as fourth (2006) in the conference standings in Stork's nine seasons. The last time CSUN opened a conference season at .500 or better was 2006 when the Matadors began the conference campaign with a 6-4 record.

In addition to leading the Matadors in assists, sophomore setter Sydney Gedryn (San Jose, Calif.) has become the team leader in both aces and blocks. Gedryn, who ranks fifth in the Big West in assists (9.89 aps), leads Northridge with 14 aces (0.31 saps) and 44 total blocks (0.98 bps). She also has three solo stuffs which is tied with Natalie Allen for team-high honors. Gedryn has also been effective on the offensive side with 47 kills (1.04 kps) in 144 attacks.   

With 10 digs against BYU, junior Monica McFarland (Riverside, Calif.) has surpassed 100 digs for the third straight season. She is also the third Matador player to reach the 100 digs plateau this season along with Cindy Ortiz (201) and Natalie Allen (119). McFarland now has 813 career digs which puts her within 202 digs of reaching the Matador career top-10. Ortiz, who has 649 career digs through two-plus seasons, is averaging a career-best 4.47 digs per set this season and ranks fourth in the Big West.

The Matadors and UC Riverside are the only two Big West teams without a home win in 2011. The Highlanders, who host CSUN on Saturday, have played just one home match, a 3-1 loss to Maryland-Baltimore County while CSUN has hosted No. 9 USC and BYU. The Matadors, who are 236-124 (.656) since they began playing in The Matadome in 1978, last had a winning record on their home floor in 2007. Since then, CSUN is 11-23 at home but with nine more home matches remaining this season the Matadors can quickly remedy their recent home woes.

Natalie Allen has had what you might call a rollercoaster beginning to her sophomore season. Allen was held without a kill for the first time in her Matador career in the season opener against Northwestern then hit negative against Utah, both CSUN losses. After sitting out the Weber State match, she then hit at least .250 in her next three matches, all Matador wins. Since putting down a season-high 12 kills against Eastern Washington on Sept. 9th, she has 24 kills while hitting .021 in her last four matches. ... the Matadors' current two-match skid is their second of the season. CSUN had a season-high four match win streak from Aug. 27-Sept. 3 ... Freshman Sam Kaul has taken over as the team leader in hitting percentage at .295 with Mahina Haina second at .258. Kaul is hitting .257 with 26 kills over the Matadors' last five matches ... Jeff Stork's 12 wins against UC Riverside are the most coaching wins he has against any opponent.

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).

Following a 13-19 season in 2010, Northridge was picked to finish eighth by the conference's coaches in the Big West Preseason Poll. The Matadors picked up 20 points to finish ahead of UC Riverside who garnered 11 points. Long Beach State was picked to reclaim the conference championship crown after Cal State Fullerton captured the title in 2010. The 49ers tallied seven first-place votes and 78 points to finish ahead of Cal Poly who garnered a pair of first-place votes and 72 points overall. UC Santa Barbara (53 pts.) was tabbed third followed by Fullerton (52), Pacific (51), UC Davis (38), UC Irvine (30), the Matadors and Highlanders.

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

On heading into Big West Play at 6-6:
"We've played some good volleyball so far including winning two tournaments. The matches that we've won, we've won in convincing fashion and the ones we've lost have been to some pretty good teams. We've lost to three Pac-12 teams and my hope going in was that we would be in those matches and in a couple of those we were certainly competitive. I thought we had a real difficult schedule and came out .500 which I think, based on the teams we played, is an OK mark."

On the play of Mahina Haina over the first 12 matches:
"Mahi was a real pleasant surprise in those early tournaments. She lit it up offensively and that was one of the things we needed. We needed a strong offensive presence and she has provided that from the Weber State match on."

On the start of the conference season:
"The Big West is a tough conference but we're confident in our ability to play the game at a high level. We'll have to see how it goes early on. Riverside has won two of their last three matches so I'm sure their confidence is up. They are an improving team but so are we. We're excited to get going now that the preseason is over. It will be interesting to see where teams stack up as the conference season starts."

On the importance of being successful early in conference:
"There is going to be ebbs and flows to any season but obviously it's important to start off well and build that confidence. I think in some ways were still trying to figure out what our starting lineup is going to be but I have no doubt the girls will continue to work hard and be focused as we start the Big West Conference season."

The Matadors return home for their next two matches, conference clashes with No. 21 Long Beach State (Sept. 30) and Cal State Fullerton (Oct. 1).