Matadors Drop Four-Set Decision at Cal Poly 25-9, 23-25, 25-20, 25-15

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Cal State Northridge had hoped to salvage the final match of a three-match road trip but instead saw its losing streak reach a season-high three as the host Cal Poly Mustangs topped the Matadors 25-9, 23-25, 25-20, 25-15 Thursday night at Mott Gym.

Northridge (8-10, 2-4 Big West) will look to snap the skid Saturday when the Matadors return home to host UC Irvine in The Matadome at 7 p.m.

In a battle of teams that opened the week tied for sixth in the Big West, the Mustangs (9-11, 4-3 Big West) out-hit the Matadors .264 to .089. Each team had 10 total blocks but Cal Poly doubled CSUN's ace total 6-3. 

Sophomore Mahina Haina led Northridge with 10 kills (.080) while freshman Casey Hinger added nine kills in 20 errorless swings (.450). Senior Una Siljegovic came off the bench to chip in eight kills (.042) and Sam Orlandini posted her first double-double of the season and 24th of her career with 35 assists and 11 digs. Orlandini was one of four Matadors to record double figures in digs as Cindy Ortiz and Monica McFarland each had 14 and Natalie Allen had 12.

A Jennifer Keddy opened the scoring in the first set, the first of nine consecutive points Cal Poly would score before the Matadors got on the board on an Allen kill. A kill from Hinger and an ace from Britney Graff pulled CSUN within 11-4 but a Haina hitting error followed by a pair of Kristina Graven kills boosted the Mustang lead back to 10 at 14-4. Things only got worse for the Matadors following their second timeout as Cal Poly six straight to take an insurmountable 20-4 lead.

Northridge had just five kills in the opening frame while committing nine errors in 29 swings for a -.138 hitting percentage.

Looking for a fresh start in set two, Jeff Stork replaced setter Sydney Gedryn with Sam Orlandini and the switch paid immediate dividends as Orlandini stuffed Molly Pon on the set's first point. A Hinger kill followed by a Keddy hitting error put the Matadors up 8-6. After Cal Poly battled back to retake the lead 10-9, Haina answered propelling CSUN on a 5-1 run which opened up Northridge's largest lead at 15-11.

After the Mustangs battled back to knot the score at 16-16, the two teams traded a pair of sideouts until 17-17 when the Matadors took a three-point lead following a pair of Hinger kills sandwiched around a Cal Poly hitting error. But the Mustangs again battled back to even the score at 20-20 forcing CSUN into a timeout. With the score tied at 23-23, a kill from Haina and a Keddy hitting error pulled the Matadors even at one set apiece.

Northridge carried the momentum into the third set when the Matadors scored five of the first six points. CSUN eventually led by as many as five points at 7-2, 9-4 and 11-6 before the Mustangs engineered a 7-1 run to take over the lead at 13-12. Sideouts continued until 16-16 when Cal Poly used a Hinger service error and a Graven kill to take an 18-16 lead. Still leading by two (19-17), the Mustangs pushed the lead to four on a Keddy kill and a Catie Smith ace. That margin proved enough as a pair of Matador service errors down the stretch pushed Cal Poly to the 25-20 win.

In a must-win set four CSUN fell behind early 7-2 before a Sam Kaul kill and a Graven hitting error pulled the Matadors within 7-4. But Cal Poly quickly built its lead to six (11-5) when Una Siljegovic's attack was stuffed by Smith and Marianne Gera. The Mustangs tallied again following Northridge's second timeout taking three of the next four points to open up an eight-point cushion at 14-6. A brief spurt pulled the Matadors within three at 14-9 but Cal Poly boosted its lead to seven at 17-10 after an Orlandini error and a Keddy kill. Northridge crept within five at 19-14 but the Mustangs pulled away late to seal the match.

Keddy and Graven combined for 34 of Cal Poly's 53 kills. Keddy hit an impressive .422 in 45 swings while Graven hit .258 in 31 attacks. Mustang setter Kate Walters dished out 39 assists to go with 17 digs in the win.

Saturday's Cal State Northridge-UC Irvine match opens up a two-match homestand for the Matadors who also host UC Riverside on Oct. 22nd.