Matadors Open 2012 Season Friday at Wildcat Classic in Tucson, Arizona

MATCH #1:

Utah Valley Wolverines (0-0) vs. Cal State Northridge Matadors (0-0)

Friday, Aug. 24, 2012 - 12:30 p.m. MT
McKale Center (14,545) - Tucson, Ariz.
Live Stats: ArizonaWildcats.com
Streaming Video: None
Audio: None
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors


MATCH #2:

Cal State Northridge Matadors (0-0) at Arizona Wildcats (0-0)

Friday, Aug. 24, 2012 - 7:00 p.m. MT
McKale Center (14,545) - Tucson, Ariz.
Live Stats: ArizonaWildcats.com
Streaming Video: None
Audio: None
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors


MATCH #3:

Cal State Northridge Matadors (0-0) vs. Evansville Aces (0-0)

Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012 - 1:00 p.m. MT
McKale Center (14,545) - Tucson, Ariz.
Live Stats: ArizonaWildcats.com
Streaming Video: None
Audio: None
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors

Weekly Match Notes (PDF)


FOR STARTERS
Cal State Northridge (0-0, 0-0 Big West) opens its 38th season of women's volleyball this weekend as the Matadors travel to Tucson, Ariz. to compete in the Wildcat Classic hosted by the University of Arizona. The Matadors open Friday at 12:30 p.m. against Utah Valley before taking on the host Wildcats at 7 p.m. CSUN wraps up the weekend Saturday at 1 p.m. against Evansville. The three foes on this weekend's schedule finished a combined 56-41 (.577) last season with Arizona advancing to the NCAA Tournament. The tournament is the first of four tournaments in which the Matadors will play in before Big West Conference play gets underway Sept. 19.

2012 SEASON OUTLOOK
With all seven starters back from 2011, Cal State Northridge is poised to make a run at the top of the Big West Conference in 2012. After finishing third in the conference last season, the best by a Matador squad since 2003, CSUN looks to improve on its 16-13 overall record and 9-7 conference slate. As was the case in 2011, the Matadors have just two seniors on their 2012 roster but have a solid cast of juniors, sophomores and freshmen to build around. Seniors Monica McFarland and Cindy Ortiz will man the backline as the two have combined for 1,881 digs in their Matador careers. Ortiz averaged 4.43 digs per set in 2011 which ranked third in the Big West while McFarland also provides athleticism and a steadying presence on the court. Natalie Allen, Sydney Gedryn, Britney Graff and Mahina Haina make up the core of the junior returners and all will be counted on heavily in 2012. Allen and Gedryn were first team All-Big West selections last season while Haina was an honorable mention pick after leading the Matadors averaging 3.31 kills per set. Gedryn handed out 10.40 assists per set in 2011, fifth-best in the Big West while Allen was one of the top two-way players in the conference averaging 2.57 kills and 3.29 digs per set. Conference Freshman of the Year Casey Hinger also returns in the middle with fellow sophomore Sam Kaul. Hinger, also a first team all-conference honoree, hit a team-high .286, averaged 2.52 kps and a team-high 1.27 blocks per set while Kaul added 48 total blocks and a .283 hitting clip. Kelcie Randazzo and Marissa Boyd also return to provide defensive depth while that core will no doubt benefit from the addition of Steffi Miller (Fr., S, San Bruno, Calif./Aragon HS), Cieana Stinson (Fr., MB/OPP, Woodland Hills, Calif./Taft HS), Jasmine Levi (Jr., MB, Woodland Hills, Calif./Pierce College) and Alia Casino (Fr., DS, San Jose, Calif./St. Francis HS).

THE 2012 SCHEDULE
The season-opening tournament at the home of the Pac-12 Wildcats is one of four tournaments the Matadors will take part in before the Big West schedule gets underway Sept. 19 against conference newcomers Hawai'i.

"We are playing more teams this season that finished ahead of us in the final RPI from 2011," said Jeff Stork who is heading into his 11th season leading the CSUN women. "It's a challenging schedule but one I think the team is looking forward to taking on."

Following this weekend's tournament in Arizona, the Matadors then return to California for their next two tournaments, the first a modified schedule at the Long Beach State Invitational (Aug. 31-Sept. 1). Since the 49ers are a Big West foe, Northridge will only play Wisconsin and James Madison during the tournament. The Matadors then host Idaho in their home opener on Sept. 3 in the newly renovated Matadome before moving on to the Bay Area to play La Salle, Long Island and San Francisco as part of the USF Asics Coca-Cola Challenge (Sept. 7-8). Northridge then heads to Houston, Texas for what Stork says is probably the toughest tournament his Matadors will play in. CSUN will face Rice, Texas Tech and Houston Baptist during the Rice Invitational on Sept. 14-15.

"Every team in the Rice Tournament is ranked ahead of us which will provide the challenges that we like heading into Big West play," said Stork. "I know they like volleyball in Texas so we're happy to be going there to play Rice, Texas Tech and Houston Baptist. We also like playing teams from strong conferences which helps boost our RPI. We believe that based on last year's results and what happened this past spring, we'll be very successful in the tournaments that we've entered."

Perennial powerhouse Hawai'i then heads to The Matadome as Big West Conference play opens Sept. 19. The match will mark the first Big West match for the Rainbow Wahine since leaving the conference following the 1995 season. The always challenging conference slate includes road matches at Cal State Fullerton (Sept. 21), UC Riverside (Sept. 22), UC Santa Barbara (Oct. 5), Cal Poly (Oct. 6), Hawai'i (Oct. 12), UC Irvine (Oct. 26), Long Beach State (Oct. 27), UC Davis (Nov. 16) and Pacific (Nov. 17).In addition to Idaho and Hawai'i, the Matadors' home schedule also includes Long Beach State (Sept. 27), UC Irvine (Sept. 29), Pacific (Oct. 18), UC Davis (Oct. 20), Cal Poly (Nov. 1), UCSB (Nov. 3), Loyola Marymount (Nov. 10), UC Riverside (Nov. 21) and Cal State Fullerton (Nov. 24).

THE WILDCAT CLASSIC FIELD
The Matadors have a distinct lack of recent history against their three opponents this weekend. Northridge has played Utah Valley one time (2006) with the Matadors winning in a sweep. The Wolverines won the Great West Conference last season and return 10 letterwinners from that 23-9 squad. Northridge has met Arizona four times in its history but not since the 1996 season when the Wildcats handed the Matadors a 3-0 loss. The lone CSUN win in the series came in 1992. Arizona, an NCAA Tournament team last season with a 19-13 overall record, was picked to finish seventh in the ultra-competitive Pac-12 Conference. The Matadors last played Evansville in 1997 with Northridge pulling out a four-set win. The Aces, out of the Missouri Valley Conference, finished 14-19 last season and graduated four seniors from last years team.

MATADORS IN SEASON OPENERS
Since 1978, Cal State Northridge is 19-15 (.559) all-time in season openers. The Matadors, who fell to Northwestern (3-0) in their 2011 season opener in Salt Lake City, are 4-6 (.400) in 10 previous season openers under head coach Jeff Stork. Friday's opener against Utah Valley in Tucson, Ariz., marks the seventh time in Stork's 10 years that Northridge has opened on the road. The last time the Matadors hosted a season opener was 2005 when Northridge fell to Arizona State in five sets. The last time CSUN won its season opener was 2007 when the Matadors topped Fresno State (3-2) at Washington's Husky Classic.

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

On the Matadors' preseason camp:
"The preseason went very well. We're working on some systems that are new to some players but are old to the players that were here in the spring. The new players got acclimated very quickly to the new systems and the returners became more precise with them. We took a look at some new things in the spring and we liked what we saw and therefore have developed them further this preseason. I like where we are now based on what we did in the spring as well as what we did last fall."  

On if any player(s) surprised him during the preseason:
"We've always known we have very good volleyball players so it's not really a surprise to me how good our players are. Obviously we need to be a good team now and that's part of the reason why some of the systems we're using are helping in that regard. Nothing surprised me that much in the preseason, I think we're on the right track and this team is improving from last year and years before. We have a lot of like-minded people who want to be great and we're excited about having that common goal of being great and our hope obviously is that it translates into a good non-conference schedule which will lead us into conference play."

On this weekend's Wildcat Classic:
"Every tournament we play in this season will be tough. Arizona is a traditional power, Utah Valley has very good coaching and keeps things steady, we don't know much about Evansville but we play them last so we'll have a chance to see them play twice and we'll come up with a good game plan. There is no team on our schedule that we can take lightly and there is no team that we can give too much credit to, Northridge is a very good volleyball team but we have to prove that every day."

MATADORS PICKED THIRD IN BIG WEST PRESEASON POLL
The Cal State Northridge women's volleyball was picked to finish third in the 2012 Big West Preseason Coaches Poll as announced by the conference office on Aug. 7. The Matadors received a total of 72 points from the conference's head coaches, the most for a CSUN team in 12 years as a member of the Big West. The previous best preseason ranking for a Matador squad came in 2007 when Northridge was picked to finish fifth before finishing in a tie for fifth at the conclusion of the season. Hawai'i, ranked eighth in the AVCA national preseason poll, was picked to win the Big West after earning nine of 10 first place votes and 99 total points. Defending conference champions Long Beach State was second with 88 total points followed by the Matadors with 72. UC Santa Barbara (60) and Pacific (60) tied for fourth with Cal State Fullerton (46) sixth, Cal Poly (43) seventh, UC Davis (37) eighth, UC Irvine (31) ninth and UC Riverside (14) 10th. Cal Poly earned the lone remaining first place vote.

ALL-CONFERENCE HONORS POUR IN FOR CSUN IN 2011
Cal State Northridge women's volleyball reaped the benefits of a hugely successful 2011 season as the Matadors had four players named to the All-Big West Conference Team while head coach Jeff Stork was named Coach of the Year and Casey Hinger was named Freshman of the Year. The Matadors, who were picked to finish eighth in the Big West Coaches Preseason Poll in August, finished alone in third-place with a 9-7 conference record, the most Big West wins for a Northridge team since winning 11 in 2004. With Hinger, sophomore opposite Natalie Allen, sophomore setter Sydney Gedryn and sophomore outside hitter Mahina Haina all earning All-Big West accolades, Northridge had its most players recognized since 2006. Allen, Gedryn and Hinger all were named to the first team while Haina was received honorable mention. It marked the first time in Cal State Northridge's Division I era (1990-present) that the Matadors had three players named to their conference's First Team.

- GO MATADORS -

Text-Only Website