CSUN Continues Big West Action Against Long Beach State, UC Irvine

MATCH #16 (Big West Match #4):

Long Beach State 49ers (7-6, 2-0 BWC) at Cal State Northridge Matadors (11-4, 2-1 BWC)

Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012 - 7 p.m. PDT
The Matadome (1,600) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: GoMatadors.com
Streaming Video: BigWest.TV
Audio: GoMatadors.com (Mark Schuermann - PBP)
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors


MATCH #17 (Big West Match #5):

UC Irvine (7-8, 2-0 BWC) at Cal State Northridge Matadors 

Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012 - 7 p.m. PDT
The Matadome (1,600) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: GoMatadors.com
Streaming Video: BigWest.TV
Audio: GoMatadors.com (Mark Schuermann - PBP)
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors

Weekly Match Notes (PDF)


FOR STARTERS

Returning to the Matadome this week after competing in only its second home match of the season last Wednesday against Hawai'i, Cal State Northridge (11-4, 2-1 BWC) will face the Long Beach State 49ers (7-6, 2-0 BWC) and UC Irvine Anteaters (7-8, 2-0 BWC) on Thursday and Sunday evening respectively. After the first week of Big West competition, only four teams possess an undefeated conference record; two of those teams will travel to the Valley this week as the Matadors look to hand each team their first Big West loss of the season, while extending their own two-match win streak. In addition to Long Beach and UC Irvine, Hawai'i and UC Davis ended last week's action with a 3-0 and 1-0 record.

NORTHRIDGE ON THE NET

Thursday's match against Long Beach State, and Saturday's contest against UC Irvine will be broadcast live with Mark Schuermann calling all the action at GoMatadors.com. All Matador home matches and conference road matches will be featured as part of the Big West live streaming package. BigWest.TV brings together live and on-demand video from each of the Big West's ten member institutions.  Now in it's eighth year, BigWest.TV covers Big West sports, press conferences, interviews and features, including every home and conference contest in women's volleyball.

TO RECAP

Cal State Northridge opened its conference schedule at home last Thursday against a Hawai'i squad that was playing its first Big West match in 17 years. In what turned out to be a thrilling five-set contest, Hawai'i survived two CSUN match points before earning two match point opportunities of its own. In front of a boisterous crowd inside the Matadome, Northridge was able to withstand Hawai'i's first two match points, but was unable to survive a third Hawai'i opportunity as the Rainbow Wahine snapped CSUN's three-match win streak.

Northridge rebounded in impressive fashion two days later against Cal State Fullerton, defeating the host Titans in four sets. CSUN then had less than a day to prepare for its next opponent, UC Riverside, the Matadors' second conference road match in as many days. Trailing two sets to one, and down 23-18 in the fourth, CSUN scored 23 of the next 34 points to come-from-behind and defeat the host Highlanders in five. 

SCOUTING THIS WEEK'S OPPONENTS

Cal State Northridge will continue conference competition against Long Beach State and UC Irvine this week. Prior to the season, Long Beach State was picked to finish second in the Big West Preseason Coaches Poll, with Northridge securing third place. Having already faced the preseason favorite last week in Hawai'i, Thursday's match will serve as another opportunity for the Matadors to showcase their talents against one of the Big West's elite programs. Two difficult matches await the 49ers this week; after facing the Matadors, Long Beach will then travel to Honolulu to face the top team in the conference.

Long Beach swept both matches played last season, defeating the Matadors in Northridge for the first time in four seasons. Outside hitters Janisa Johnson (2.96 k/s) and Delainey Aigner-Swesey (2.89 kills/set) lead a 49ers squad in search of its third straight win after defeating Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara last week inside the Walter Pyramid. Thursday's contest features a Long Beach front-line ranked No. 2 with its average of 13.83 k/s, against a Northridge team that leads the Big West with its 2.78 blocks/set mark.

Northridge will look to extend its win streak over the Anteaters to three matches to close out its two-match homestand Saturday evening. Sporting a 2-0 Big West record for the first time since 2008, Irvine will face its third ranked opponent of the season in Hawai'i, in Honolulu Thursday evening before traveling back to the mainland to face Northridge two days later. Ranked No. 2 in the conference, Aly Squires leads the Anteaters with 4.04 k/s. Ella Rosenfield and Marisa Alvarez lead UCI with 1.24 blocks/set and 10.34 assists/set, numbers that place the duo in second and third place respectively in each category. As was the case with Long Beach, UC Irvine also earned its two victories last week against Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara.

HINGER HELPS NORTHRIDGE TAKE TWO OF THREE

Sophomore MB Casey Hinger posted one of her best weekends as a Matador to help her team earn two wins out of its three conference matches last week. Against Hawai'i, Hinger set a new career high with 14 kills, a mark that increased three days later with her 17 kills earned at UC Riverside. In both matches, Hinger finished as the Matadors' top attacker, and fell only one kill short at Cal State Fullerton of finishing with the Matadors' top total for all three matches played last week. Teammate Mahina Haina led CSUN 14 kills against the Titans.

NORTHRIDGE NOTES

The Matadors won the net battle against all three of their opponents last week, the 13th time this season CSUN has out-blocked its opponents ... Northridge finished with a higher block total in all 11 of its wins this season, with the only losses coming to Utah Valley and San Francisco. Wisconsin and Hawai'i are the only teams this season to claim a blocking advantage over the Matadors ... By winning its last two games, this year's CSUN squad has helped head coach Jeff Stork post the most successful 15-match start throughout his 11-year tenure ... The Matadors' 11-4 record narrowly beats out the 10-5 mark posted by the 2004 and '06 squads ... Northridge find itself leading the Big West once again in blocks, its 2.78 blocks per set average ranks higher that the average posted by No. 2 Hawai'i (2.51 b/s) and No. 3 UC Davis (2.45 b/s) ... CSUN's 158 total blocks are nearly 20 more that the Big West's No. 2 team, UC Santa Barbara, and its total of 140 blocks. 

COACHES CORNER

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

Reflecting on the Matadors' first week of conference matches:

"Three matches in a week is difficult to do, there are a lot of quick studies that need to happen for both the players and the coaches. It was a disappointing loss against Hawai'i, but it was a good indication of how good we could be having those two match points. It was going to be interesting to see how we responded against Fullerton based on what happened on Wednesday, but the girls did a wonderful job. We controlled that match from start to finish."

Matadors' come-from-behind victory at UC Riverside:

"Riverside is a scrappy team, I think they are well-coached. They put pressure on you from start to finish, we were fortunate to leave Riverside with the win. They were up 2-1 in sets, and 23-18 in the fourth, and we made a huge comeback."

Play of sophomore middle blocker Casey Hinger:

"Casey is an outstanding volleyball player, she has a lot of ability in a lot of areas and we are trying to maximize what we can get from her. She is a perfectionist, she wants to be great, and she will get there. If we can get the ball to her more we will, and I think her teammates have a lot of confidence in her ability to terminate the ball. As the Freshman Player of the Year last year, the conference has seen how good she is.  

MATADORS NOTCH 700TH PROGRAM WIN, 250TH CONFERENCE WIN

Now in the 38th season of women's volleyball at Cal State Northridge, the Matadors reached the 700-win plateau with their 3-0 win over Fresno State on Sept. 3, 2011. Now with 722 wins in 37+ years averages out to roughly 19 wins per season which was largely achieved during the programs heyday as a Division II school (1975-1989). Under the direction of Walt Ker, the Matadors posted 401 wins from 1979-1992, an average of nearly 29 wins per season. Since moving up to the Division I level in 1990, Northridge has 328 wins, including 29 in Ker's first Division I season (1990). With a win over Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 1, 2011, the Matadors reached 250 conference wins in 30 seasons as a conference member. CSUN has 75 Big West wins and combined with 47 Big Sky wins, 100 CCAA wins and 37 SCAA wins, CSUN stands at 259 all-time conference victories. 

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.