Matadors Come Back to Top UC Davis in Big West Opener

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Five Cal State Northridge hitters had double figures in kills, led by sophomore Cieana Stinson's 19, as the Matadors came back to win the final two sets in a hard-fought 19-25, 26-24, 23-25, 25-18, 15-11 victory over visiting UC Davis in the conference opener for both teams Saturday at The Matadome. 

CSUN (11-3, 1-0 Big West) was nearly its own worst enemy as the Matadors committed 23 hitting errors and 16 service errors but had enough at the end to win their first Big West home opener since 2006.

"We had to double up on points tonight because we made a lot of serving errors and made a lot of hitting errors," said Matador head coach Jeff Stork. "We can score a lot points but unfortunately we give away a lot of points. We had that discussion with the players, we need to stay more focused and playing a scrappy team like UC Davis, we need to be more determined."

Stinson paced the Matador offense with a career-high 19 kills (.317) while senior Mahina Haina and junior Casey Hinger each added 15. Hinger hit .355 on 31 attacks while Haina hit .237 on 38 swings. Haina's fifth kill of the night gave her 1,000 kills in her CSUN career, just the ninth player in school history to reach the milestone.

Sam Kaul (.562) and Natalie Allen (.276) each chipped in 10 kills with Allen also recording a team-high 13 digs, her team-leading seventh double-double of the 2013 campaign. Sydney Gedryn posted a season-high 60 assists to go with eight digs and five blocks as CSUN improved to 5-1 in five-set decisions this season.

"We're now 5-1 in five-set matches which is a sign of a mature team and one that can execute at the end of a match when they need to," added Stork. "It's a real nice win for the team and sets us up for the trip to Riverside and Fullerton next week."

After the two teams split the first four sets, the fifth and final frame was a battle as the teams traded sideouts until things were all square at 8-8. A kill from Haina propelled the Matadors on a 4-0 run which looked to put CSUN comfortably in front 12-8. But three straight Aggie points cut the lead down to one before Stinson came up huge with back-to-back kills giving the Matadors match point at 14-11. After a short rally, Allen put up a solo block on UCD's Valerie Brain and CSUN had the comeback win.

Senior Devon Damelio had 16 kills (.393) to lead UC Davis which dropped to 8-6 overall and is 0-1 in conference play. Victoria Lee added 15 kills (.650) and Kaylin Squyres chipped in 14 (.159).

Cal State Northridge heads out on the road for matches at UC Riverside (Oct. 4) and Cal State Fullerton (Oct. 5) next week.

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