With the team’s second best statistical hitter injured, Britney Graff, the Northridge women’s volleyball team will have their hands full this Friday with a non-conference match against the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners.
The Roadrunners are coming off a four-set loss to the San Diego State Aztecs, and have yet to find a conference to call home as they are in the middle of transitioning from Division II to Division I.
“Very similar to what they did last time, they are good servers,” head coach Jeff Stork said on what is to be expected from Bakersfield. “(Serving) is their dominant strength, if we control that, we can control the match.”
The Roadrunners boast a total of 172 aces for the team, which should give the Matadors a run for their money.
Northridge will focus on passing deep float and short serves in order to adjust to Bakersfield effective serving style.
Bakersfield has only one to two players than can run a decent offense, Stork said. And with a very obvious defensive presence at the net, Northridge has a good chance of winning.
Outside hitter Lindy DeGeare currently has 323 kills for the seasons and boasts the second-most aces on the team with 35. Just ahead of her, with 38 aces, is sophomore middle blocker Alysia Baker who has 211 kills for the season.
Senior Barbie Unfried has 790 assists and ranks third in aces with 31, and also tallies 42 total blocks for the season. In the supporting roles are freshman middle blocker Kelsey Mills with a team-leading 53 total blocks and senior defensive specialist/libero Kayla Williams leads the team with 522 digs.
“(I’m) more concerned with what we do than Bakersfield,” said Stork.
Fortunately, for the Matadors this will be their only match for the weekend, giving them time to heal freshmen outside hitter Britney Graff when they continue conference play the following weekend.
“(The) hope is the injury is not as severe as originally thought or how she looked coming off the court. We hope the two days off helped,” Stork said.
Since Graff’s injury during a five-set win over Pacific last Friday, Stork has had to ask several players to step up and try to fill the freshman’s impactful shoes.
“(Players) out of the bench should always be ready,” said junior defensive special/libero Janet Alvarado. “And I’m always ready.”
Alvarado is one of three players Stork has had to alternate between in filling Graff’s position which is like filling two at once.
Senior outside hitter Angela Hupp still leads Northridge in kills with 281 and also tallies 207 assists and 193 digs. Before her injury Graff sat comfortably in second place with 222 kills, but junior outside hitter Brittany Williams is quickly closing in with 216 of her own.
Freshman libero Monica McFarland dominates the back row with 315 digs, and senior Tela Burnett leads the pack with 87 total blocks.
Graff is a passing outside hitter, which means she doesn’t have to be substituted when she rotates to the back row, Stork said. Now the team is in danger of using too many substitutions too soon in any given set because two are being used in Graff’s place.
If she is well enough to play against Bakersfield, Graff said she is really looking forward to her comeback.
“They beat us last time,” Graff said. “So it’s gonna be like payback…we know we should have won last time.”
After Cal State Bakersfield, the Matadors will host UC Santa Barbara as they continue conference play Tuesday at the Matadome.