Second Half of Big West Season Opens for Matadors at Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara

Oct. 20, 2010

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MATADORS TRAVEL TO CAL POLY, UCSB AS BIG WEST'S SECOND HALF OPENS
Cal State Northridge (9-13, 2-5 Big West), winners of three of its past four matches, opens up the second half of the Big West Conference schedule this week as the Matadors head to Cal Poly (15-6, 5-3 Big West) on Friday followed by a match at UC Santa Barbara (11-9, 5-2 Big West) on Saturday. Northridge split a pair of matches last week, falling on the road in straight sets at Cal State Fullerton before claiming its third consecutive home win with a thrilling five-set comeback over UC Irvine.

NORTHRIDGE ON THE NET
Both matches this week will be available as part of the Big West live streaming package. Both matches will also feature live stats via Gametracker at GoMatadors.com. The Big West Conference and the CBS College Sports Network are partnering to bring fans exclusive coverage of Big West sports, press conferences, interviews and features into your home via the Internet! Now in its sixth year, BigWest.TV covers every home and conference contest in women's volleyball. A monthly subscription of $9.95 or an annual subscription of $79.95 delivers exclusive coverage to you. If you can't make it to the gym, you can still catch all the action on BigWest.TV!

TO RECAP
The week opened for the Matadors with a 3-0 loss at Cal State Fullerton on Thursday. Northridge was led by Lynda Morales' eight kills on night when the Matadors were stifled on offense. Northridge hit .116 (33-19-121) for the match. Morales also had one ace and three blocks. Mahina Haina and Puneet Pataria each added six kills, while Natalie Allen was held to a season-low three kills in 25 swings but did add a team-high 12 digs. Matador setter Sam Orlandini added 19 assists and eight digs in the loss. On Saturday in front of a boisterous crowd, Una Siljegovic, Morales and Allen combined for 42 kills as Cal State Northridge topped visiting UC Irvine in five hard-fought sets (25-19, 18-25, 25-21, 22-25, 16-14). Siljegovic provided a spark off the bench as she came on in the second set and recorded a team-high 15 kills over the final four sets. The junior hit a team-high .343 and also added four digs. Morales, who was a perfect 8-for-8 in kills in the opening set, wound up with 14 kills and eight blocks and six digs while hitting .242. Allen added 13 kills (.146) and 14 digs for her fifth double-double of the season. Orlandini also notched a double-double with 45 assists and 10 digs while Monica McFarland and Cindy Ortiz each had a team-high 18 digs. McFarland also served three of the Matadors' six aces, while Orlandini had the other three.

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE OPPONENTS
Cal Poly (15-6, 5-3) comes into Friday's match on the heels of a five-set loss at Pacific on Saturday. The Mustangs opened the week with a 3-1 win at UC Davis but have now dropped two of their last three matches. Cal Poly has played just five matches at home this season where the Mustangs are 3-2. Freshman OH Kristina Graven leads Cal Poly averaging 3.79 kps which ranks fourth in the Big West. The Mustangs hold a 25-20 lead in the all-time series with the Matadors and have won 10 straight over CSUN including a 3-0 win in The Matadome on Sept. 25. UC Santa Barbara, which hosts UC Irvine on Friday, is 11-9 (5-2 Big West) after splitting a pair of matches last week. The Gauchos defeated Pacific in straight sets before falling in five at UC Davis. UCSB has played just three home matches this year and are 1-2 on their home court. Senior OH Charlene DeHoog leads UCSB averaging 3.17 kills per set. The Gauchos hold a 27-5 lead in the all-time series with the Matadors and UCSB has won five straight over CSUN which includes a five-set win in Northridge on Sept. 24.

MATADORS LOOK TO POST DOUBLE FIGURE WINS
With their next win, the Matadors will reach double figures in wins for the sixth time in nine seasons under Jeff Stork and first time since 2007. Northridge averaged nearly 15 wins per season over Stork's first three seasons (2002-04) which included 17 wins and an NCAA Tournament berth in 2004. The Matadors also had 16 wins in 2006 and 13 in 2007.

ORLANDINI ON PACE FOR SEVERAL CAREER-HIGHS
Junior setter Sam Orlandini (La Cañada, Calif.) had another solid all-around outing against UC Irvine as she posted 45 assists, 10 digs, four kills and three aces. The three-year starter is on pace to set career-highs in assists, hitting percentage, aces and digs and has already surpassed her previous career-bests in kills and blocks this season. Orlandini, who ranks third in the Big West in aces and seventh in assists, is also tied for the Matador team lead in double-doubles with six.

A FRESHMAN SHALL LEAD US
Natalie Allen (Murrieta, Calif.) could very well become just the fourth Matador in the last 13 years to lead her team in kills as a true freshman. Allen currently has a team-high 251 kills (2.92 kps) which is 83 more than fellow freshman Mahina Haina who ranks second. Allen's teammate Brittany Williams was the last freshman to lead a Northridge team in kills when she posted 276 kills in 2007. Jenn Probert also had a team-high 270 kills as a freshman in 2005. Laura Walter (Szymanski), CSUN's all-time kill leader, owns the freshman record with 404 kills in the pre-rally scoring era in 1998. Britney Graff, who is redshirting this season, had 287 kills as a freshman last season which ranked second on the team.

SILJEGOVIC STEPS UP
Junior Una Siljegovic (Simi Valley, Calif.) became the seventh player this season to lead the Matadors in kills when she put down a career-high 15 against UC Irvine on Saturday. Allen has led the team in kills a team-high nine time this season followed by Haina who has led in kills on six different occasions. Monica McFarland (Riverside, Calif.) has led four times followed by senior Lynda Morales (Fallbrook, Calif.) who has led three times. Puneet Pataria (San Jose, Calif.) and Janet Alvarado (Los Angeles, Calif.) each have led the team kills once this season. Siljegovic had started three straight matches before coming off the bench against the Anteaters.

MATADORS IN THE RPI
Through matches of Oct. 17, Northridge ranks 164th in the NCAA women's volleyball RPI. The Big West Conference has five teams (Cal State Fullerton - 32, Long Beach State - 36, UCSB - 52, UC Davis - 78, Cal Poly - 82, Pacific - 86) ranked among the top-100 in the nation. UC Irvine (160) is just four spots in front of the Matadors while UC Riverside ranks 250th out of 328 Division I schools.

NORTHRIDGE NOTES
Saturday's win over UC Irvine was the Matadors' second five-set win of the season and first since defeating Elon in five on Sept. 3. CSUN is now 2-3 in five-set matches this season. The win was also the Matadors' second of the season when they were out-hit by the opposition. UCI hit .165 to .148 for CSUN which was also out-hit .260-.239 in a four-set win at Santa Clara ... 81 digs against UC Irvine is a team-high for a five-set match this season ... The 3-0 sweep at the hands of Cal State Fullerton was the sixth time this season that the Matadors have been swept. CSUN has just one whitewashing, when the Matadors blanked UNLV on Sept. 17 ... Northridge will have four more home contests and six road matches in the regular season. Two of the final 10 matches will be against Long Beach State (Nov. 11, Nov. 19).

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

On defeating UC Irvine:
"I think this team is, at times, playing very good volleyball. I thought, in some ways, the Irvine match was a character win more than great volleyball. We saw some good things with our serve reception against Irvine and our right side blocking was very good. Sam and Linda did a very nice job and Sydney's huge block at the end to win the thing was an exciting moment. We also had good passing, reasonable siding-out certainly in the sets that we won, but we do have room for improvement."

On utilizing different players at different times:
"We're playing the hot hand in many ways. We're trying to get some consistency out of all the players. I want everybody to succeed, whoever's out there. Anybody who's out needs to be ready to go in and we keep seeing that, with our outside hitters in particular."

On the state of the Big West:
"It was kind of an interesting weekend for the Big West. Santa Barbara and Cal Poly split with Davis and Pacific and Long Beach almost got knocked off by Riverside. I still think the team that's playing the steadiest right now is probably Cal State Fullerton. I think it's still anybody's ballgame going into the second half. Our hope is to finish in the top half of the conference and we need to come away with a couple of wins in the next four matches to help out with that."

On opening the second half of conference play at Cal Poly and UCSB:
"We've explained to the players the importance of going in with the right focus. Certainly this weekend is really important. Cal Poly is a very good team that's competitive all the time. Santa Barbara is getting things done, they're an extremely scrappy team so we've got to come in with our "A" game to be successful this weekend."

UP NEXT
Following this week's road matches at Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara, the Matadors return home to host Pacific (Oct. 29) and UC Davis (Oct. 20) as CSUN looks to avenge road losses to both teams in early October. The Matadors then open a four-match road trip which will take them to Bakersfield, Riverside, Long Beach and Irvine.

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