For anyone who was at the Matadome Tuesday night, it would seem that the women’s volleyball team had won their first Big West match of the season. However, the reality is the Matadors were handed their fifth loss in the last six matches by the No. 23 UC Irvine (14-3, 4-1 Big West) by scores of 22-25, 22-25, 25-15 and 23-25.
“We’re disappointed about the results,” said CSUN head coach Jeff Stork. “But if you look at how we played it was a very good match for us.”
Even with another triple-double from setter/outside hitter Angela Hupp, Northridge (4-12, 0-3) was unable to come back from a 2-1 set deficit. Hupp had 14 kills to compliment her 20 assists and 11 digs. Right-side hitter, Lynda Morales, chipped 10 kills of her own to go along with middle blocker Chelsea Johnson’s six blocks, two of which were solo. Setter Sam Orlandini dished out 19 sets for kills and libero Monica McFarland led with 15 digs and two aces.
On the other side of the net outside hitter, Juliane Piggott led the Anteaters with 15 kills. Just behind her was outside hitter Kari Pestolesi with 14 kills and 17 digs. Setter Taryn Robeterson had 41 assists and 4 aces.
In set one the Matadors did a good job of keeping the game close with long rallies and quick sideouts. The scored tied six times with only one lead change. The biggest lead went to the Anteaters at 14-10. But a kill by Morales would bring Northridge back within three. After an Irvine kill, and with the score at 19-18 in favor of the Anteaters, the Matadors trailed by one until a Pestoseli kill would close the set at 25-22.
The second set was another nail biter, but this time the Matadors struggled to find the rhythm they had gained in the first set. Irvine jumped out to a 6-3 lead before the dizzying game of “who could side-out first” began. With the score at 24-22 a Johnson hitting error would give the Anteaters a 2-0 set advantage.
Northridge gave Irvine a run for their money in the third set when they pulled out to an 11-8 spurred by back-to-back Anteater hitting errors. Irvine head coach Paula Weishoff was forced to use both her time-outs during a 6-0 run care of the Matadors. A CSUN block would dig the Anteaters into a deeper hole. Irvine was never able to recover and lost the match 25-15.
Set four was much like the first two sets, in that Irvine was able to jump out to an early lead making the Matadors play catch up the entire match. A scorebook error combined with a replay call after the ball got stuck in the rafters, made for slight entertainment, but in the end Northridge was unable to pull through yet again.
Even with McFarland serving six straight points to bring the score within one at 17-18, a few CSUN hitting errors and even more Irvine kills ended the match for the Matadors.
“Even though it wasn’t a win, it’s what we needed,” said Hupp about the loss. “How we played together, it was all about heart…we just need a couple more kills and a couple more aces.”
For Morales, the sentiment is clearly the same.
“Overall, we played so much better tonight. We came together and played for each other,” the right-side hitter said.