HOUSTON, Texas - Junior Britney Graff pounded a match-high 14 kills while sophomore Casey Hinger added eight as Cal State Northridge opened play at the Rice Invitational II with a straight set win (25-17, 25-23, 25-22) over the host Rice Owls Friday at Tudor Fieldhouse.
In their final tournament before Big West play opens next week, the Matadors (7-3) got off to a successful start as they improved to 6-3 on the road this season. CSUN, winners of five of its last six matches, will take on Texas Tech and Houston Baptist on Saturday.
"We did so many things well against a very good team today," said Stork. "We played Rice a couple of years ago and were a little concerend about their speed of play but we're a much improved team and we handled it well today. We kept them from hitting a high percentage while hitting at a high percentage ourselves."
Graff took a season-high 40 swings as she led the Matador offense with 14 kills (.250). The junior from Canyon Lakes, Calif., also had seven digs, two assists and one block assist.
"Brit executed very well today," said Stork. "She hit a lot of cross court shots that they struggled defending."
Hinger added eight kills (.167) and two blocks while Sydney Gedryn delivered seven kills (.357), 34 assists, seven digs and three blocks from the setter spot. Mahina Haina (.467) and Cieana Stinson (.000) each chipped in six kills while Sam Kaul had a match-high six blocks in the win.
CSUN out-hit the Owls .275 to .051 in taking the opening set 25-17. The remaining two sets were close as the Matadors pulled out late wins in each frame. Rice led by as many as three (15-12) in set two before CSUN battled back to knot the score at 18-18 on a Kaul solo stuff. An Owl hitting error gave the Matadors a 21-19 cushion and CSUN never looked back winning by two 25-23.
In the final set, the Matadors led by as many as six at 18-12 before Rice engineered a 9-3 run to even the set at 21-21. But CSUN was unfazed as kills from Hinger and Graff followed by a service ace from Alia Casino gave the Matadors match point at 24-21. After Hinger's attack was blocked saving one match point, Graff connected giving CSUN the 25-22 victory.
Rice (5-7) was led by Nancy Cole who put down 12 kills while hitting .500 in 22 swings.
Cal State Northridge takes on Texas Tech Saturday at 9 a.m. PDT before taking on Houston Baptist at 2:30 p.m.
- GO MATADORS -