Matadors dig deep, wrap up Big West play with 3-1 win

Ivan Yeo

After three games, the CSUN women’s volleyball team put forth perhaps its best effort on Thursday night.

After losing game one to the Cal State Fullerton Titans, the Matadors rebounded to win a tightly-contested game two and followed up that effort with two convincing wins in the last two games as CSUN wrapped up Big West Conference play with a four- game win over Fullerton at Titan Gym.

“It was a real good game,” head coach Jeff Stork said. “I thought they were relaxed, but focused and certainly, there was a lot of excitement out there to keep the adrenaline going.”

Northridge was led by a pair of freshmen outside hitters as Alex Johnson had 17 kills and 11 digs and Brittany Williams had 16 kills. Sophomore Angela Hupp had 10 kills, 11 assists and 14 digs and junior setter Kayla Wright had 25 assists.

In game one, CSUN jumped out to a 7-2 lead. The Matadors led 8-4 until Fullerton started chipping away at the lead, winning the next three points. The Titans stayed within distance of the Matadors, trailing 10-8 when they won the next three points to take the lead. The match was tied at 15 until Fullerton won the next four sets to take a 19-15 lead. Fullerton held the lead from that point on, but at 29-24, CSUN fought back, winning the next four sets to get within one until a roof block by Day and Wolnisty gave Fullerton a 30-28 game one win.

Fullerton led for most of game two. In fact, the Titans led 28-24 until Northridge charged back, winning consecutive points to force a Titan timeout. The Matadors came out of the break by winning consecutive sets to tie the game. A two-hit violation put the Titans at game point, but a Williams spike sent the game to sudden death. The Titans had two chances to end game two, but Northridge came back both times and with the match tied at 32, Johnson put Northridge ahead and a Titan attack went long, giving CSUN a 34-32 win to even the match.

Both teams exchanged the first six points to start game three, but Northridge soon asserted themselves by winning the next four points. Following a Moore kill, the Matadors won the next five points to tame a 12-4 lead, forcing a Fullerton timeout. CSUN then won four of the next five points to lead 16-5, forcing another Titan timeout. The Matadors were in control from then on, as they won game three 30-22. Game four was more of the same, with Northridge jumping out to a 9-3 lead and increasing it to 13-4. Just like in game three, the Matadors fed off its early start and propelled themselves to a 30-18 win to take the match.

“We just went all out,” Hanson said.

In addition to Hupp, Johnson and Wright, two other players reached double-digits in digs: juniors Hanson and Amy Hultner had 23 and 21 digs, respectively. As a team, the Matadors had 102 digs.

“We did a good job of not letting them get big runs,” Hupp said.

The Matadors will close the season by hosting the two-day Fremont Investment and Loan Invitational which starts Nov. 23. CSUN will play Fairfield at 7 p.m. on the 23rd, followed by a match against Idaho at 7 p.m. on Nov. 24.