After starting the season with a successful 2-1 record in Boise, Idaho, the women’s volleyball team will pack up their bags for the second straight weekend and head to the Bay Area to compete in their second tournament of the year. The University of San Francisco will host the Asics/Coca-Cola Challenge in San Francisco. The Matadors, who placed second overall in the Bronco Invitational, are scheduled to play the Dons (1-2) Friday evening, before moving on to Rice University (3-1) and San Diego State (2-1) Saturday.
Even with such a successful weekend at the Bronco Invitation last weekend, the Matadors know that there is no time to relax.
“If you look at the teams as a whole in this tournament, (they) are better,” head coach Jeff Stork said, comparing them against the competition from last weekend.
CSUN’s first match of the tournament will be against USF Friday night. The Dons are led in kills by junior outside/opposite hitter Sarah Mandala, who tallied 48 in the Oregon Tournament in Eugene. Senior outside/opposite hitter Anna Berger adds 27 kills, and senior libero Haley Carroll tallies 52 digs for the season thus far.
Saturday the Matadors will have a doubleheader against two teams with winning records. First on the list are the Owls of Rice University, who lost only one match at the Mizuno Invitational in Lubbock, Texas, which they hosted.
The Owls, who only have two freshmen on the roster, are led in kills by senior middle blocker Natalie Bogen with 50 in the last four games. Junior setter Meredith Schamun has tallied 169 assists, and junior defensive specialist Tracey Lam adds 86 digs to the Owl’s winning record.
To end their weekend the Matadors will play the Aztecs of San Diego State University. Junior outside hitter, Hannah Evans, leads the team with 29 kills so far. Sophomore outside hitter Paije Pearson only has 21 kills for the team, but she boasts the best hitting percentage of the team at .348. And freshmen libero Kristi Jackels has racked up 40 digs for the Aztecs.
According to Stork the team has been doing well in converting points off of serving and defense, but that they give up too many points on offense. Last weekend, in a 5-game match against Northern Arizona University, the Matadors lost two sets due self-inflicted errors.
“We need to be a better offensive team, so we’re focusing a lot on serve-receive right now,” Stork said.
The Matadors hope to repeat last weekend’s success in San Francisco, especially since Stork will be mixing up the line up. By doing so Stork and the coaching staff hope to give all the players the opportunity to play and to create variety within the line-ups. Stork is still in the process of solidifying a starting lineup for conference play, and is optimistic that tournament play is the best judge of ability and attitude.
One player who most likely will be playing in the Asics/Coca-Cola Challenge is freshmen outside hitter Brittney Graff, who, along with senior outside hitter Angela Hupp, was named All-Tournament in Boise.
“Brittney was a pleasant surprise. She handled herself really well, like a veteran,” Stork said.