Matadors Knock Off Conference-Leading Cal State Fullerton in Straight Sets

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Freshman Casey Hinger pounded a match-high 14 kills while hitting a blistering .478 as Cal State Northridge knocked off conference-leading Cal State Fullerton 32-30, 25-21, 25-18 Saturday night at The Matadome.

In claiming their first home win of the 2011 season, the Matadors (8-7, 2-1 Big West) handed the Titans (8-8, 3-1 Big West) their first conference loss in four matches. CSUN also snapped a three-match losing streak to Fullerton which had also beaten the Matadors three straight times in Northridge.

Hinger, a freshman middle from Fullerton, had 14 kills in 23 swings with just three hitting errors. She had just one hitting error until committing a pair of errors in the final stages of the third set. Hinger also added seven total blocks, four digs and one ace to round out a solid performance.

"Casey is a very dynamic player," said head coach Jeff Stork. "She's very quick, moves very well and can hit a variety of sets. I think she's growing in her confidence right now."

Senior Una Siljegovic came off the bench to add nine kills (.400) while sophomore Mahina Haina also added nine of her own. Natalie Allen chipped in six kills to go with a match-high 14 digs while setter Sam Orlandini came on for Sydney Gedryn to post a team-high 26 assists. CSUN wound up out-hitting the Titans .239-.119.

Things weren't easy in the opening set as both teams struggled offensively. Fullerton tallied four of the first five points forcing CSUN to play from behind a majority of the set. A Hinger-Gedryn block pulled the Matadors even at 12-12 but CSUN did not lead until back-to-back Titan hitting errors put the Matadors in front 15-13. But a 6-4 Fullerton following a timeout put the Titans back in front 19-18 and the two teams battled until a Kayla Neto hitting error gave CSUN set point at 24-23.

Fullerton saved three set points in all before kills from Leah Best and Jennifer Edmond gave the Titans their first set point at 27-26. Then it was the Matadors who saved three set points at 28-27, 29-28 and 30-29 before a Hinger kill pulled Northridge even and a Best hitting error and another Hinger kill gave the Matadors the emotional 32-30 win.

The Titans looked well on their way to evening the match at one set apiece after bolting to leads of 16-10 and 18-11 in set two. Three straight Fullerton hitting errors pulled the Matadors within 18-16 before a Hinger-Haina co-block eventually drew CSUN even at 20-20. With the score still tied at 21-21, the Matadors inserted super-sub Mariah Counts and Northridge responded by winning the final four points and taking the set 25-21.

After trailing 4-3 early in the final set, the Matadors won 14 of the next 21 points to jump out to an insurmountable 17-10 lead. After the Titans crept within 24-18 late, Hinger's 14th and final kill on match point gave the Matadors the straight set win.

"I think this was a gut win for us," said Stork. "The first two sets were not played well by either team but the fact that we can pull out wins in sets like that is a good thing for our team."

Leah Maurer wound up leading the Titans with 11 kills (.375) while the Matadors limited Fullerton's leading hitting hitter Kayla Neto to nine kills and a -.024 hitting clip.

Cal State Northridge opens a three-match road trip next week as the Matadors travel to Pacific next Friday, Oct. 7. CSUN will also play at UC Davis and Cal Poly on the trip.


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