August 14, 2007

Nine Teams In CSTV/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll Dot Northridge Schedule


Nine Teams In CSTV/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll Dot Northridge Schedule

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Nine Teams, including seven in the top 25, named in the CSTV/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Preseason poll are featured on the 2007 Cal State Northridge women's volleyball schedule. The Matadors open the campaign Aug. 24 against Fresno State at the Husky Classic in Seattle, Wash.

UCLA, which will take on the Matadors in San Diego on Sept. 14, is the highest ranked Northridge opponent in the preseason poll at No. 5. USC (vs. Northridge, Aug. 30) is ranked sixth followed by another Pac-10 school Washington (Aug. 25) at No. 8.

Big West foe Cal Poly (Sept. 22, Oct. 19) is preseason ranked 14th, followed by San Diego (Sept. 15) at No. 15. Duke (Sept. 1), which finished 29-4 last season, is ranked 18th followed by another Big West rival Long Beach State (Oct. 6, Nov. 3) at No. 19.

Also receiving votes in the preseason poll include: UC Santa Barbara (Sept. 21, Oct. 20), which picked up 12 votes, and Sacramento State (Sept. 8) which received five votes.

The 2007 schedule resembles the 2005 Northridge schedule which was among the toughest in the country.

"The schedule will be difficult," said Stork. "We're playing a lot of good teams including several Pac-10 teams (Washington, USC, UCLA, Oregon State) along with several top 20 teams (San Diego, Duke, Sacramento State)."

Along with the challenging schedule, the Matadors will be tested by playing their first 14 matches on the road. Northridge opens the campaign at the Husky Classic in Seattle, Wash. (Aug. 24-25) before returning to California for tournaments at USC (Aug. 30-Sept. 1), Sacramento State (Sept. 7-8) and San Diego (Sept. 14-15).

"It's a little awkward to not play at home until late September," said Stork. "But we'll see how our young players adjust to playing on the road early on."

The reason for the quirky schedule is that Northridge will move its annual Fremont Investment and Loan Invitational, normally played at the beginning of the season, from late August to late November.

"We moved the Fremont Investment & Loan Invitational Tournament to November to avoid the August heat in Northridge," said Stork. "But San Diego and USC are relatively close to home for us. All four tournaments have a good mix of teams and all four tournament hosts (Washington, USC, Sacramento State, San Diego) have outstanding teams."

The Matadors will open Big West Conference play on the road at conference powerhouses UC Santa Barbara (Sept. 21) and Cal Poly (Sept. 22).

The Gauchos and Mustangs are both picked among the top three in the conference with Cal Poly the favorite to repeat as Big West champions.

Northridge will open the long-awaited home schedule against UC Irvine (Sept. 28), UC Riverside (Sept. 29) and Cal State Fullerton (Oct. 2) before heading back out on the road for three matches.

The first half of the Big West season wraps up with matches at Long Beach State (Oct. 6), UC Davis (Oct. 12) and Pacific (Oct. 13).

"In the Big West, Pacific has made strides, while Fullerton made a strong move last year," said Stork. "Cal Poly returns all but one starter and are understandably favored while Long Beach always has good players."

The month of November could prove fruitful for the Matadors as they play six of their seven matches in Northridge. The sixth annual Fremont Investment & Loan Invitational (Nov. 23-24) will feature Cal State Fullerton, Idaho, Fairfield and the host Matadors.

"Each year I go into a season I think I know my team pretty well. But I don't know the other teams that well with their recent transfers, signees and injuries," said Stork. "Based on what we've done over the last two seasons I think we'll have a good season."

- GO MATADORS -

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