2010 Matador Women's Volleyball Season Review

Nov. 30, 2010

2010 Matador Women's Volleyball Photo Gallery

The roller-coaster season that was Cal State Northridge in 2010 concluded with a hard-fought 3-1 loss to Cal State Fullerton as the Matadors finished with an overall record of 13-19 and a Big West record of 5-11.

With 13 wins, Northridge posted a five-win improvement from 2009 and claimed the most wins for a Matador team since the 2007 season.

"Overall, our team made some pretty significant improvements," said head coach Jeff Stork. "Most notably, we passed extremely well this season and had several players pass really well which kept us in-system quite a bit. If I look at seasons past, I think statistically this team is higher than what we've had in the last couple of years."

Freshman Natalie Allen (Murietta, Calif.) and senior Lynda Morales (Fallbrook, Calif.) were both named to the 2010 All-Big West honorable mention team and Allen was also chosen to the seven-player All-Freshman Team. It marked the seventh consecutive season that a first year Matador was named as one of the conference's top freshman players.

As a team, the Matadors finished seventh in the always-tough Big West Conference with a 5-11 league mark. Northridge finished as high as third in the conference in both blocks and aces per game with the Matadors serving a conference-best 151 aces.

"We've always been a very good serve-block defensive team and that continued again this year," added Stork. "I thought the quality of play at several moments during the season was outstanding."

During a see-saw season, Northridge won a season-high three matches in row twice but also suffered through a five-match losing streak. The season opened with three straight losses at the Aztec Invitational at San Diego State (Aug. 27-28). The Matadors were swept by both San Diego State and Cincinnati and then dropped the final two sets of a five-set loss to Northern Colorado.

The Matadors then got things back on track by winning two of three matches at the Sacramento State Invitational (Sept. 3-4). The first win of 2010 came as CSUN won the final two sets, including a 15-12 decision in the fifth against Elon College. Then came the Matadors most dominating effort to date as CSUN took care of UTSA 17-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-18 before falling the tournament championship to the host Sac State Hornets in four sets. Allen and sophomore Monica McFarland were both named to the all-tournament team for the Matadors.

Another trip to Northern California, this time to the Bay Area, was next as the Matadors lost to Seattle (3-2) and Portland State in San Jose, but in between posted a solid four-set win at Santa Clara (Sept. 10).

CSUN opened the home schedule Sept. 14 against 13th-ranked UCLA and the Matadors came out on fire winning the opening set 25-22 before dropping the final three sets. The ensuing weekend saw Northridge play possibly its finest volleyball of the season as the Matadors traveled to Las Vegas (Sept. 16-17) and came away with three solid wins. CSUN swept host UNLV before beating a solid Xavier squad in four and then topping San Jose State in four to win the tournament championship. Freshman Mahina Haina, junior Sam Orlandini and sophomore Cindy Ortiz all earned All-Tournament accolades.

"I thought the UNLV Tournament was certainly a highlight for us," said Stork.

A Sept. 21 home loss to Loyola Marymount was Northridge's final non-conference match before Big West play opened but only served as the first of five straight Matador losses. A tough five-set loss to UC Santa Barbara on Sept. 24 opened the conference slate and losses at home to Cal Poly (3-0) and on the road at UC Davis (3-1) and Pacific (3-0) followed.

The Matadors regrouped to top CSU Bakersfield on Oct. 6 which propelled Northridge to a 7-7 mark over the final 14 matches of the season. The Matadors' first conference win came over UC Riverside on Oct. 9 before Northridge dropped four of its next five with the lone win coming in five sets over UC Irvine on Oct. 16.

A thrilling five-set win over UC Davis on Oct. 30 was the first of three straight wins which included triumphs over CSU Bakersfield (Nov. 2) and UC Riverside (Nov. 5). The Matadors were then swept by Long Beach State and UC Irvine before pulling off possibly its biggest win of the season, defeating the second-place 49ers in four sets at home on Nov. 19.

"Winning at home is always special," said Stork. "Obviously the UC Irvine and UC Davis matches were very exciting, winning in five each time. Having to stop Irvine on two match points getting a huge block from Sydney (Gedryn) was a special moment. Long Beach is always a really good match to win at home, the girls played extremely well and were very steady.

"I even thought the season finale against Cal State Fullerton was a really good match for us," said Stork. "We were scoring a ton of points and not giving up too many errors. It was very much a dogfight and came down to one point either way."

Allen was one of several newcomers who were forced to step when sophomore Britney Graff was lost for the season and senior Brittany Williams was still recovering from an injury suffered at the end of 2009.

"Those injuries hurt obviously," said Stork. "We had a lot of contributions from a lot of different players this year but the consistency of play was probably not where I wanted it from a lot of the players. And yet we always found people to contribute night in and night out."

Allen wound up the season with a team-high 363 kills and was the first Matador hitter since Darla Donaldson in 2006 to average over 3.00 kills per set. She also finished third on the team in aces with 23 (0.19 saps) and digs with 254 (2.12 dps). Allen also added 67 blocks which was third-best on the squad.

"Natalie contributed so much to this team," said Stork. "She is a heck of a volleyball player who sees the game very well. She's a very motivated student-athlete so we're expecting great things from her again in the spring and then next season."

The Matadors will lose seniors Janet Alvarado (Los Angeles, Calif.), Brittany Williams (Chino Hills. Calif.), Karina Woehrstein (Lomita, Calif.) and Morales to graduation but all contributed mightily during the 2010 season.

"The beautiful thing about collegiate athletics is that these players come for a degree," said Stork. "As nice as it is to have quality volleyball players it's real nice to see kids graduate."

Morales will leave as Northridge's all-time leader in total blocks and block assists. She finished second on the team this season with 211 kills (1.95 kps) and was the team leader with 135 blocks (1.25 bps).

"Lynda has graduated and is planning on playing professionally in Puerto Rico," said Stork. "We're very happy for her and her ability to get the hands to the point of attack is one of the reasons why she is a phenomenal blocker and one of the best in school history."

Alvarado finished the 2010 season with 135 kills (2.25 kps) and also had 58 digs, 17 blocks and seven aces.

"Janet is probably the most sound, technical player we have," said Stork. "Her technique is extremely good in all aspects of the game. She's a good blocker, transition hitter and even as a passer she's very sound."

Williams, who came into her senior season with 802 career kills, was limited by an injury suffered with three matches remaining in 2009. She wound up her senior season with 32 kills giving her 834 kills in 327 sets played.

"Brittany is a tremendous loss for us," said Stork. "She was our number one hitter over the last two years, but unfortunately athletes have injuries and she sustained something that put her out for eight to nine months. She still did some terrific things for us in the locker room and as a team leader."

Woehrstein started the season as the Matadors' libero and then spent the last two-thirds of the season playing primarily as a defensive specialist. She finished fourth on the team with 226 digs, an average of 1.84 digs per set.

"Karina has been a starter for us for two years," said Stork. "She is a real good ball handler and a good, pure passer. She defends a lot of balls and has the type of personality that fits in well with teams."

Junior Sam Orlandini (La Canada, Calif.) completed her third season as the Matadors' starting setter and piled up 1,009 assists in 2010 and now has 2,608 career assists, good for third all-time at Cal State Northridge. Orlandini also led the team with 33 aces (0.31 saps), was fifth with 212 digs (1.98) and fourth with 61 blocks (0.57 bps).

"Sam is always a pure leader on the court," said Stork. "She is a proven winner and is as big a competitor as you can find. Technically, we need to make her release a bit more consistent. She sees the game extremely well and comes from a volleyball family so she knows the game extremely well."

Another junior Puneet Pataria (San Jose, Calif.) started much of the season at middle blocker and finished the season with 104 kills (1.28 kps) and 70 blocks (0.86 bps).

"Puneet is very much a good volleyball player," said Stork. "We brought her in looking at her as a utility player. In high school she was playing middle and passing as well as hitting a variety of sets and that's kind of what she's done here. She's started as a passing outside hitter but then we came up short on middle hitters this year and it was kind of natural choice to put her back in the middle."

A pair of sophomores, Cindy Ortiz (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Monica McFarland (Riverside, Calif.) both made immeasurable contributions both offensively and defensively. Ortiz took over the libero spot in the eighth match of the season and finished with a team-high 444 digs (3.67 dps). Ortiz also contributed at the service line finishing second on the squad with 24 aces (0.20). McFarland, the team leader in digs in 2009, moved to the outside hitter spot for much of the season and wound up with 187 kills (1.83 kps) and 299 digs (2.60 dps).

"Cindy got better and better as the season went on," said Stork. "She came in as a tryout player and when I saw her contact the ball probably about 10-15 times during the tryout I knew we were keeping her for sure. As soon as she became the everyday libero she kind of held on to the position and played extremely well. She was our best passer and has a tremendous jump serve."

"Monica is an extremely coachable player who was a big hitter for us at the beginning of the year," said Stork. "Later in the season she became more of a defensive player. She's an unbelievable defender, extremely fast and makes some incredible saves. She reads the game extremely well. She contributed in a lot of different ways this season."

A solid core of first-year players, Una Siljegovic (Simi Valley, Calif.), Mahina Haina (Honolulu, Hawai'i), Nicole Jarvis (Oxnard, Calif.), Sydney Gedryn (San Jose, Calif.) and Megan Kirkpatrick (Downey, Calif.) each gained valuable experience in their first season.

Siljegovic had 147 kills in 59 sets, an average of 2.49 kills per set. She led the Matadors in kills in three of the last 11 matches this season.

"Una became the more consistent of the outside hitters as the season wore on," said Stork. "She has a very high volleyball IQ and is a very good net player and we're fortunate to have her for another year."

Haina finished second to Allen with 196 kills (2.58 kps) while adding 59 digs, 24 blocks and 10 aces.

"Mahina is just a real powerful athlete," said Stork. "She has a real live arm which is something we need. Mahina is someone who can give us more kills per set because she is a dynamic jumper and can hit with power."

Jarvis wound up the season with 70 kills while hitting .202 to go with 57 blocks (0.57 bpg).

"Nicole tends to be more of an attacking type of middle," said Stork. "She has very good length to her and sees the game very well. The one area we need from her is speed. This spring will be very important to her in terms of becoming a bit quicker. We just need to add speed to her length."

Gedryn appeared in 59 sets accumulating 230 assists (3.90 aps), 44 digs and 43 blocks. She started four matches at setter this season.

"Sydney is a great athlete," said Stork. "Being left-handed, we're going to find a way to utilize that as an attacker. She's one of our better jumpers and has a whip for an arm. Her set location is quite good and we're going to see more and more from her as her career goes on."

Kirkpatrick appeared in just 18 sets as a true freshman playing primarily as a defensive specialist and serving specialist.

"Megan was in a tough group to break in to early on," said Stork. "She's an outstanding volleyball player, is a very good defender and has a lot of courage. The area she needs to work on is her passing and she will get a ton of reps this spring.:

"I think the players were better prepared and came in with a real good attitude and sustained it for a much longer period of time this season as opposed to previous seasons. We'll do some things in the spring to maximize what we have here and with our incoming recruiting class, we're very hopeful that we'll be even better next year."

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