Final Road Trip of 2009 Takes Northridge to Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara

Nov. 17, 2009

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FOR STARTERS Cal State Northridge (8-20, 4-10 Big West) opens the final weekend of the 2009 season on Friday as the Matadors travel to Cal Poly (8-20, 4-11 Big West) for a key conference match. Northridge concludes the season on Saturday at UC Santa Barbara (20-7, 10-5) as the Matadors look to dampen the Gauchos' postseason hopes. The Matadors, who look to avenge their five-set home loss to the Mustangs on Oct. 9, currently have a half-game lead on Cal Poly in the battle for seventh-place in the Big West standings. UCSB, currently tied for third in the Big West, is looking to position itself for a possible conference championship or an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament

TO RECAP Northridge opened the week with a five-set upset win over conference-leading Long Beach State as Britney Graff had a double-double of 16 kills and 10 digs while Lynda Morales added 14 kills and Puneet Pataria chipped in 13 in the 25-23, 18-25, 17-25, 25-22, 18-16. Saturday was a different story however as the Matadors fell in straight sets to Cal State Fullerton. Tela Burnett shined in her final home match with six kills, nine block assists and one ace.

MATADORS SPLIT FINAL HOMESTAND Northridge opened the final homestand on a solid note as the Matadors knocked off Long Beach State in five thrilling sets. It was the second straight season that Northridge defeated the 49ers in The Matadome in five sets.

"It was a big win over Long Beach," said Head Coach Jeff Stork. "I think winning in five against a quality team is always a good thing. The team played very well, our two outsides had an outstanding night and I thought Tela blocked very well and put up a good hitting night.

"Angela ran the 5-1 and controlled the offense very well, added Stork. "Overall it was one of our better efforts of the season, the team was energized there was a lot of focus out there."

The Matadors weren't so lucky on Saturday as Northridge was swept by Cal State Fullerton after honoring Hupp and Burnett prior to the match.

"Fullerton is a good serving team," said Stork. "We were out of system a majority of the match and that was the biggest difference. But there's always a few more distractions on senior night and it's always a challenge to keep your focus."

CAREER RECORDS UPDATE With just two matches to go in the regular season, several Matadors have made inroads on the Northridge career leaders list. Senior Angela Hupp currently ranks fourth in total attempts (3,224) and block assists (340), fifth in sets played (425), sixth in kills (1,116) and is seventh in both assists (1,677) and total blocks (356). Junior Lynda Morales is currently sixth in block assists (326) and eighth in total blocks (349). Fellow junior Brittany Williams ranks 10th in total attempts (2,384) and sophomore Sam Orlandini is already eighth in assists with 1,594.

GRAFF AND MCFARLAND LOOK TO CAP SOLID FRESHMAN SEASONS The Matadors came into the season with question marks at both outside hitter and libero. But with the emergence of true freshman Britney Graff and redshirt freshman Monica McFarland, those positions are now solidified for several seasons to come. Graff ranks second on the squad in kills (269) and is third in kills/set (2.64). She is also second on the team in aces and has racked up eight double-doubles.

"Britney has handled herself extremely well and she's very composed," said Stork. "She's eager to learn and has nerves of steal. We've asked her to do a lot this season, being a primary passer and at the start of the season she was one of our go-to hitters which as a freshman is commendable."

McFarland leads the team in digs with 397 and ranks ninth in the Big West in digs per set at 3.71. She has posted double figure dig totals in 21 of the 27 matches in which she's played this season.

"Monica is putting up good numbers and digging a ton of balls," said Stork. "She's a very focused individual, when she sees something that needs to be changed, she's all over it. She's made a couple of changes this season that I thought were really good."

NORTHRIDGE NOTES Based on team records heading into the final weekend of the season, the Matadors can finish no higher than seventh which is exactly where they were pegged to finish according to the Big West Preseason Coaches Poll. Northridge has a half-game lead on Cal Poly and a one-game lead on UC Riverside with two matches to play ... Head Coach Jeff Stork looks to inch closer to his 100th career victory on the Northridge bench. Stork heads into the final matches of 2009 with 94 career wins ... With a split in their final two matches, the Matadors would finish with the identical overall record (9-21) they posted in 2008 ... Several Matador players set career-highs in recent weeks. Chelsea Johnson had a career-high eight kills in 22 swings at UC Riverside (Nov. 6) while Puneet Pataria matched her career-best with 13 kills against Long Beach State (Nov. 13). Pataria also served up the first two aces of her career with one against UC Davis (Oct. 24) and another against UCSB (Nov. 3). Janet Alvarado posted a career-high two blocks against UC Irvine (Nov. 7).

MATADORS MAKE "DIG PINK" A HUGE SUCCESS Northridge had a successful "Dig Pink" day with its Oct. 24 match against UC Davis. Since the match, the Matadors have raised over $2,100 for the Susan G. Koman For the Cure Foundation and breast cancer awareness.

NORTHRIDGE ON THE NET All Cal State Northridge home matches will be available via Gametracker at GoMatadors.com and will also be available via live video streaming at BigWest.TV. Get exclusive coverage of Big West Conference action by logging on to BigWest.TV! Now in it's fifth year, BigWest.TV gives fans on-demand access to Big West sports as well as press conferences, features and Big West Conference Championships. If you can't make it to the gym or the field, head to www.BigWest.TV to catch up on your favorite team.

SCOUTING CAL POLY The Mustangs come into Friday's match with an overall record of 8-20 and are 4-11 in the Big West. Cal Poly has won two of its last three matches after defeating Pacific and falling to UC Davis last week. Freshman OH Megan McConnell leads the Mustangs averaging 3.09 k/s while junior MB Dominique Olowalafe adds 2.30 k/s.

SCOUTING UC SANTA BARBARA The Gauchos come into this week's action with an overall record of 20-7 and are 10-5 in the Big West. UCSB has won six of its last eight after splitting at Pacific and UC Davis last week. Senior OH Rebecca Saraceno leads the Gauchos with 4.54 k/s.

SERIES HISTORIES The Matadors trail 23-20 in the all-time series with Cal Poly and trail 26-5 in the series with UC Santa Barbara.

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