The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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CSUN plays two at Matadome this weekend

The Northridge women’s volleyball team will kick off the second half of conference play with a four-match homestand starting this Friday with a match against the University of Pacific (15-4, Big West 5-3) before facing UC Davis (15-7, 6-2) Saturday.

The Matadors are coming off a split weekend on the road defeating Cal State Fullerton in four sets before being swept by Long Beach State, bringing their record to a dismal 6-14 overall and 2-5 in the Big West.

During their first meeting in late September, the Tigers swept the Matadors in three straight sets. Northridge did not score more than 16 points in any of the three sets.

This time around the Matadors will be up against a Pacific team that boasts three of the top-10 servers in the conference. Three outside hitters have claimed the first, fourth and fifth spots on the Big West ace list. Junior Svenja Engelhardt leads with 32 aces, senior Mallori Gibson has secured the fourth spot with 28, and sophomore Rebekah Torres trails in fifth place with 23 aces.

“(Pacific has) very good arms,” head coach Jeff Stork said about the Tigers’ strengths. “They come at you at the service line and try to pull you off the net. But they aren’t an outstanding team defensively, not outstanding at blocking.”

Gibson and Engelhardt also rank in the top-10 kills list, though not as high as the ace list. Engelhardt leads her team and ranks eighth in conference with 236 kills, averaging 3.36 kills a set. In tenth place in the Big West, just behind Matador Angela Hupp, is Gibson with 226 kills.

On Saturday the Matadors will play the Aggies, a match that can go in either direction. Northridge was able to push Davis to five sets the first time around. However, five-set matches have become the Matadors’ downfall this season, only winning one out of six.

According to Northridge head coach Jeff Stork, the Matadors were in the middle of transitioning from a one-setter offense to a two-setter offense the first time against Davis, which may have frazzled the team.

“Every match is a new match,” Stork said. “(There’s) no guarantee it will be five sets. We’ve been playing a steady brand of volleyball.”

“We just need to show heart,” Northridge sophomore setter Sam Orlandini said. “We’ve talked about why we’ve lost so many five-set matches and I think we’ve solved it.”

Unlike Pacific, Davis has no players on the Big West top-10 ace lists, but does claim spots in kills, assists, blocks and digs. Davis is also currently ranked second in the Big West, just after UC Irvine.

Aggie freshman outside hitter Allison Whiston ranks sixth in the Big West and leads her team with 280 kills. Senior setter Carson Lowden places fifth in the Big West with 822 assists.

Defensively, Davis boasts two top-10 Big West back row players, with Avreeta Sighn securing the fifth spot with 306 digs, and senior outside hitter Kayla Varney in last place with 263. Sophomore middle blocker Betsy Sedlak ranks third in the conference with 89 total blocks, 16 solo.

“The Matadors run a fast style of play, we don’t play quite as fast,” Davis head coach Jamie Holmes said. “Do I expect to beat Northridge in three? No. Do I expect them to beat us in three? No. I expect it to be an exciting night of volleyball.”

With senior middle blocker Tela Burnett averaging 1.18 blocks a game, placing her second in the Big West, Holmes’s expectations should be met. Offensively, senior outside hitter, and team captain, Angela Hupp has averaged 3.24 kills a game giving her 259 total on the season.

Orlandini places in two Big West categories, with 629 assists she is currently tenth in the conference and her 24 aces have placed her in ninth place for services. Freshman libero Monica McFarland is in ninth place in the Big West with 274 digs.

The Matadors will next host Cal State Bakersfield in a non-conference match next Wednesday before continuing the second-round of conference play with a match against UC Santa Barbara Friday.

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