Matadors Hang On to Top UC Riverside in Five Sets 25-20, 25-18, 22-25, 24-26, 15-8

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Mahina Haina and Casey Hinger combined for 28 kills as Cal State Northridge won the first two sets then had to hold off the late charge of UC Riverside as the Matadors won in five sets (25-20, 25-18, 22-25, 24-26, 15-8) Saturday night at The Matadome.

The upset-minded Highlanders (5-17, 2-6 Big West), who won the final three sets in a come-from-behind five set win at UC Santa Barbara last week, had their sights set on another before the Matadors (10-10, 4-4 Big West) pulled out the 15-8 win in the fifth set.

Haina (15 kills, .324), Hinger (13 kills, .458) and Natalie Allen (11 kills, .290) carried a lions-share of the offensive load for Northridge which hit .276 as a team. Haina overcame a sluggish start to lead the Matadors in kills for the 13th time this season. Hinger also matched her career-high with three aces as CSUN served a season-high 10 aces against the Highlanders.

Setter Sydney Gedryn dished out 47 assists while libero Cindy Ortiz had a team-high 17 digs in the win.

Neither team hit particularly well in the opening set as CSUN had just enough offense to pull out the 25-20 win. The Matadors helped themselves with a trio of service aces and took advantage of five UCR service errors. The Highlanders led from the start in the opening set until Britney Graff's solo block gave CSUN its first lead at 10-9. The lead see-sawed back and forth until the second of back-to-back Hinger hitting errors gave the Highlanders a two-point lead at 16-14. But Hinger redeemed herself with an ace and a kill and after Megan Raza was stuffed by Sam Kaul, the Matadors took back the lead for good 17-16.

After Shelby LeDuff's kill pulled UCR within 5-3 in set two, Northridge exploded with a 13-6 run to open up a 18-9 advantage. The Matadors built the lead to 10 at 21-11 following a Haina kill and despite the Highlanders getting within seven in the latter stages, CSUN cruised home with the 25-18 win.

UCR then got its offense in gear as the Highlanders hit .333 over the next two sets to force a fifth and decising frame. After pulling away late in set three to take a 25-22 decision, the two teams battled through 11 ties and seven lead changes in set four. In the fourth, Allen's kill appeared to put the Matadors comfortably in front 22-19 but the Highlanders tallied three straight points to tie the score. Bianca Endersby's kill capped a 4-0 run which put UCR in front 23-22. After an Una Siljegovic kill pulled the Matadors even at 24-24, Amanda Vialpando put down a kill and Ortiz was aced on set point sending the match to a fifth set.

In the fifth, the Highlanders opened with a 2-1 lead before the Matadors got a pair of kills each from Haina and Kaul and a Haina solo stuff to cap a 6-2 run which opened up an 8-3 CSUN lead. UCR would get within three at 11-8 when Gedryn was whistled for a ball handling error but kills from Siljegovic and Hinger, an ensuing Gedryn-Hinger block came before Haina's kill on match point ended the evening.

LeDuff wound up with a match-high 16 kills (.286) to lead the Highlanders who also got 15 kills (.167) from Vialpando and 10 kills (.200) from Endersby.

Cal State Northridge will play four of its next six matches on the road beginning Oct. 28 at Cal State Fullerton.


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