CSUN loses twice to Washington State in the Nike Cougar challenge but was able to defeat Idaho

Kerstin Gupilan

By winning at least one match this past weekend, the Cal State Northridge women’s volleyball team (3-6) has broken their four game losing streak.  The weekend at the Nike Cougar Challenge in Pullman, Wash., started and ended very familiar for the Matadors. In their first match of the tournament CSUN lost to host Washington State University (10-0), only managing to win one set.  Then Northridge had an episode of déjà vu when they were swept by WSU Saturday night.  In between the losses, CSUN was able to pull of a four-set win against the Vandals of Idaho (4-4).

Even with senior outside hitter Angela Hupp leading the team for the third time in double-doubles with 14 kills and 12 digs for CSUN, the first match against the Cougars was pretty much one-sided.  In the first set the Cougars dominated both sides of the net, at one point gaining a 21-13 lead that the Matadors were never able to overcome.

In the second set the Matadors came out strong, leading for much of the game by stepping up their hitting to .294 percent.  Hupp put down two consecutive kills to close out the game, and a 25-20 win for the Matadors.

Unfortunately, in true CSUN fashion, the Matadors weren’t able to capitalize on their newly acquired momentum.  The Cougars jumped to an early 6-0 lead in the third match and did not allow the Matadors to get within five points for a 25-19 win for the Cougars.

In the fourth and final set the Cougars controlled the game with a 21-9 lead.  But somehow the Matadors were able to find another spark within and went on a 10-2 scoring driving putting the score at 23-19.  Coming off a Monica McFarland ace, CSUN came within three points at 24-21, but a hitting error by freshman outside hitter Britney Graff handed the Cougars their eighth straight win of the season.

The match against the Vandals of Idaho was more of an even match up for the Matadors. Sarah Conwell tallied 13 kills, Alicia Milo finished with 12 kills and Meredith Rice added 17 digs for the Vandals.   CSUN’s defense held the Vandals to their lowest hitting percentage of the season at .073, while the Matadors hit at a .237 percentage.  Senior middle blocker Tela Burnett led the Matador defense with seven blocks and also racked up seven kills.  Junior defensive specialist Karina Woerhstein combined with McFarland for 33 digs and 3 aces.  Graff had 10 kills and three aces and Sam Orlandini contributed 3 more aces for CSUN’s total nine aces.  The Matadors finished the match with scores of 25-13, 19-25, 25-10, 28-26.

After the win against Idaho the Matadors moved on to play the Cougars once again to close out the tournament weekend.  Much like the first meeting, CSUN was unable to hang with the Cougars.  This time, however, WSU was able to close the deal in just three matches.

The first set was controlled, yet again, by the Cougars who took an early lead for the 25-14 win.  The second set was closer, but CSUN was held to a healthy margin most of the match and lost, 19-25.  In the third and final set, even with the Matadors leading late in the game, CSUN was not able to hold on and fell to the Cougars 22-25.  Hupp led CSUN in kills with 11 and Graff added 10 kills and a team high 14 digs.