Matadors Wrap Up Conference Home Schedule vs. Pacific, UC Davis This Week

Matadors Wrap Up Conference Home Schedule vs. Pacific, UC Davis This Week

This Week's Matador Women's Volleyball Release


Match #27: Pacific at Cal State Northridge * Friday, Nov. 9 * The Matadome * 7:00 p.m.
Match #28: UC Davis at Cal State Northridge * Saturday, Nov. 10 * The Matadome * 7:00 p.m.

Cal State Northridge (10-16, 6-7 Big West) wraps up its season-long, four-match homestand and also closes the Big West home season this week against Pacific (14-8, 7-6) and UC Davis (3-22, 0-13). Both matches are slated to begin at 7 p.m. The Matadors, 4-3 in seven home matches this season, are 3-4 all-time against Pacific in The Matadome and 1-1 in two matches vs. UC Davis in Northridge.

All Matador home matches will webcast live on the official website of Northridge Athletics, with Sam Farber handling the play-by-play. Farber will be joined occasionally by former Winthrop assistant coach Paul Duchesne. And for the second straight season, the Big West Conference and CSTV are partnering to bring LIVE Big West Conference volleyball home to you. A monthly subscription of $9.95 or an annual subscription of $79.95 gets you exclusive coverage of Big West women's volleyball delivered right to your computer. If you can't make it to the gym, you can still watch all the action on BigWest.TV!

Junior Val Kepler knocked down a team-high 14 kills and Cal State Northridge held off Cal State Bakersfield 30-23, 25-30, 30-21, 30-24 in a non-conference match last Thursday. Kepler, who hit a solid .542 and added three aces and eight blocks, was the only Northridge hitter to register double figures in kills. Freshman Brittany Williams added nine kills (.269) and sophomore Angela Hupp had eight kills (.080), 17 assists and 10 digs. On Saturday, Williams knocked down a team-high nine kills, but Cal State Northridge could not overcome Long Beach State as the visiting 49ers defeated the Matadors 30-24, 30-27, 30-28.

Friday's match with Pacific and Saturday's match with UC Davis continues a month of home cooking for the Matadors. After playing 19 of its first 24 matches on the road this season, Northridge is in the midst of a stretch that will see the Matadors will play six of its final seven regular season matches in the comforts of The Matadome. In addition to this week's Big West matches, the Matadors will travel to Cal State Fullerton (Nov. 17) and then wrap up the regular season by hosting Fairfield and Idaho in the Fremont Investment and Loan Invitational. Northridge has won four of its last six home matches heading into this week's action.

Back at the beginning of October, the Matadors ranked eighth in the Big West in team blocking at 2.14 per game. Since then, Northridge has become one of the top teams in the conference at the net. This week the Matadors are second in the Big West at 2.71 blocks per game largely on the strength of their last seven matches. Since Oct. 6 at Long Beach State, Northridge has accumulated 97.5 team blocks for an average of 13.93 team blocks per game. On the way, the Matadors have set rally scoring era records for four and five-game matches and approached all-time Cal State Northridge records.

If the Big West preseason poll proves correct, the Matadors are right were they should be heading into the home stretch of the conference season. Northridge was picked to finish fifth in the preseason coaches poll and is currently in fifth place at 6-7. With three conference matches remaining, the Matadors can still move up a spot or two in the Big West standings. Third place UC Irvine (9-3) would be tough to catch but Pacific (7-6) is just one game ahead of Northridge in the standings. Cal State Fullerton (5-7) is currently sixth, one-half game behind the Matadors. Cal Poly (11-1), the preseason pick to win the conference, has a one-half game lead over second-place Long Beach State (11-2) heading into this week's matches.

A pair of freshmen continue to be a big part of the Matador offensive effort in 2007. In terms of kills per game, Brittany Williams (Chino Hillls/Ayala HS) leads Northridge at 2.61 kpg while Alex Johnson (Westlake Village/Westlake HS) ranks second at 2.43 kpg. Johnson has appeared in 25 of 26 matches this season with 23 stars at outside hitter, while Williams has started 10 matches and appeared in 24. The duo have also combined for 32 assists, 14 aces, 201 digs and 93 total blocks.

Head coach Jeff Stork had this to say about last week's matches against Cal State Bakersfield and Long Beach State:

"Bakersfield wasn't a pretty match but a win's a win," said Stork. "Whether it's the second contact or the third contact that's our problem, we need to work on our our ability to be aggressive with the third contact."

On hosting Pacific and UC Davis this week which wraps up the home conference season:

"Pacific is a good offensive team," said Stork. "They gave us problems in our first match. We'll have to control their serving game to be successful."

"UC Davis has struggled this season," Stork added. "They are something of a spoiler team looking for something to build on."

On the play of junior middle blocker Val Kepler (Simi Valley/Royal HS):

"Val is doing so many things well for us right now," said Stork. "She's elevated her game from her sophomore season to now and her demeaner on the court gives the younger girls something to emulate."

Seven Matador opponents (the most of any team in the Big West) are named in the CSTV/AVCA Coaches Top 25 poll this week. Washington (22-1) is the highest ranked Northridge opponent this week at No. 4. USC (20-3) is ranked sixth this week followed by ninth-ranked UCLA (16-7). Duke (20-4) is ranked 14th this week followed by 19th-ranked San Diego (17-7). Cal Poly (17-7) ranks 22nd this week while Big West rival Long Beach State (18-6) also received votes in this week's top 25 poll.

The Tigers bring a 14-8 overall (7-6 Big West) record into Friday's match in Northridge. Pacific has dropped three of its last four matches after winning six of eight prior to that. Last week, the Tigers defeated UC Riverside in three games and lost to UC Irvine in five. Junior Alexa Anderson averages a team-high 3.68 kills per game which ranks seventh in the Big West. Senior Johanna Hilbers is second at 3.44 kpg and junior setter Shannn Krug averages a conference-best 13.32 assists per game. Pacific is hitting .235 as a team while averaging 16.54 kills per game. The Tigers are out-blocking their opponents 2.87 to 2.04 per game. Head coach Charlie Wade (Cal State Fullerton, 1991) is in his second season with the Tigers and sports a 22-29 school record.

The Aggies, who travel to Long Beach State on Friday before venturing to Northridge on Saturday, are 3-22 overall (0-13 Big West) heading into this week's action. UC Davis has dropped 18 straight matches since claiming a 3-1 win over Boise State on Sept. 7. Last week, the Aggies were swept by both UC Irvine and UC Riverside at home. Freshman Kayla Varney, who had a team-high 13 kills against UC Riverside on Saturday, leads UC Davis with 290 kills (3.26 kpg). Junior Renee Ibekwe ranks second in kills (265) while averaging 3.35 kpg. So. setter Carson Lowden averages 11.23 assists per game while the Aggies are hitting .140 as a team. Head coach Steve Walker (Long Beach State, 1996) is in his second season with the Aggies and sports a 7-46 career and school record.


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