Matadors Win Epic Battle With Eighth-Ranked Hawai'i

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - After nearly three hours of volleyball on Thursday night, Cal State Northridge finally got the signature win it was looking for as the Matadors topped eighth-ranked Hawai'i, 30-32, 28-26, 20-25, 25-22, 15-10 in a Big West match at The Matadome. 

In defeating the Rainbow Wahine for the first time in its history, CSUN improved to 17-4 overall and 7-1 in the Big West Conference. The Matadors also picked up their first win over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 25 Long Beach State in 2008.

CSUN also had then No. 7 Hawai'i on the ropes in Northridge last season before the Rainbow Wahine pulled out a 19-17 win in the fifth set. Thursday's match proved to be just as big a battle between two of the conference's front runners as both the first two sets went to extra points.

"Overall it was difficult match for both teams," said Matador head coach Jeff Stork. "We played well enough to beat a very good Hawai'i team. It's nice to see us sideout well against a quality team and I thought our offense was very good tonight. Syd (Gedryn) did a nice job of getting a number of our hitters involved, we're able to win matches with different players playing well."

Junior Casey Hinger put down a team-high 16 kills (.143) and completed her first career double-double by adding a career-high 11 digs. Hinger also added eight blocks and one ace in a solid all-around match. Cieana Stinson added 15 kills (.258) while Mahina Haina added 12 (.083) and Natalie Allen had 11 (.323). Allen, Britney Graff and libero Kelcie Randazzo combined for 45 of CSUN's 66 digs.

Sam Kaul hit a team-high .421 with nine kills in 19 swings with just one error while Gedryn handed out 49 assists to go with seven kills, two aces, five digs and eight blocks.

The Matadors overcame a match-high 25 kills from Emily Hartong who hit just .174 on 69 attacks. The All-American also had 10 digs and four blocks in the loss.

The first two sets set the stage for an epic battle between the two teams. CSUN saved three set points in the opening frame before taking a 27-26 lead on a Nikki Taylor hitting error. But Hawai'i saved that set point and three more, the last at 30-29, before  scoring the final three points of the set in a 32-30 win.

The Matadors rebounded in set two, opening up what looked like an insurmountable 19-12 lead on a Alia Casino ace. But the Rainbow Wahine stormed back to get within one point late when Stinson's attack was stuffed pulling Hawai'i within 21-20. A UH service error followed by a Randazzo ace put CSUN on top 23-20 but a 4-0 Rainbow Wahine run set UH up with set point at 24-23. Hartong's ensuing attack went long and the set was headed to extra points.

Haina's kill gave the Matadors their first set point at 25-24 but Hartong answered with a kill of her own. After a UH service error, another Rainbow Wahine kill kept things going at 26-26. But clutch kills from Kaul and Allen pulled the Matadors even with the 28-26 win.

Neither team hit particularly well in set three as Hawai'i overcame a 19-16 CSUN lead by outscoring the Matadors 9-1 over the final 10 points. The set three loss appeared to deflate the Matadors somewhat as Hawai'i came out strong in the fourth leading 8-3 after 11 points. But CSUN dug deep and clawed back to knot the score at 9-9 on a Gedryn kill. An Allen kill capped a 14-4 Matador run which put CSUN up 17-12 and the Matadors held on late to pull out the 25-22 win.

Neither team led by more than two points in the decisive fifth set until Gedryn's kill heading into the changeover fueled a 4-0 Matador run which put CSUN in front to stay 11-7. Hartong's kill got Hawai'i within 12-9 before a pair of kills Hinger and one from Haina gave the Matadors the 15-10 win.

Cal State Northridge continues its three-match homestand next Thursday, Oct. 31 as the Matadors host Cal State Fullerton at 7 p.m.

- GOMATADORS.COM -