CSUN falls to Hawai’i in Dig Pink Game

Lauryn Anderson prepares to serve against Hawai’i in Northridge, Calif., on Oct. 23 2021.

Randy Acosta, Reporter

CSUN was looking to get their fourth conference win on Saturday as they hosted the University of Hawai’i.

The Dig Pink event was created by the Sideout Foundation to bring awareness to breast cancer and raise money for research.

“Dig Pink!” was on the big screens as you walked into the Matadome, with pink pom-poms waiting on the seats for each spectator. CSUN players wore warm-up shirts with a pink font and the refs had pink whistles around their necks.

Nicole Nevarez prepares to serve in Northridge, Calif., on Oct. 23, 2021. (Connor Clark)

University of Hawai’i setter Kate Lang started off the first set with an ace that came off the left arm of CSUN’s libero Makayla Bradford. CSUN’s outside hitter Nicole Nevarez spiked it to the right side of the court with authority, which brought CSUN within one (5-6).

CSUN’s outside hitter Taylor Orshoff got a kill that landed just out of reach of UH libero Tayli Ikenaga, who did a barrel roll in an attempt to keep the ball in play (13-9).

“Out!” yelled the CSUN bench and players, as the ball landed out of play on the left side of the court after a spike from UH outside hitter Riley Wagoner. The spike brought CSUN within four (11-15).

An attack error by CSUN’s outside hitter Seyvion Waggoner barely went out of play and gave UH a 20-13 lead. Waggoner looked at the referee in confusion as she thought it stayed in. A long rally by both teams ended in a Waggoner kill, which generated some “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd. UH took the first set 25-15.

Nevarez received a serve from Ikenaga and got a set from CSUN setter Carisa Barron, who set Nevarez up for a kill to give the Matadors a 3-2 lead. The energy was kept high by CSUN middle blocker Nieko Thomas on the bench, as she high fived all of her teammates after a Waggoner kill that gave the Matadors a 6-4 lead.

A kill by CSUN’s outside hitter Lexi McLeod gave the Matadors a 9-7 lead. UH went on a 4-0 run and took a 11-9 lead in the set.

The Matadors went on a 3-0 later in the set, giving them a 20-17 lead. Two of the three points came from middle blocker Taylor Hunter.

UH went on a 3-0 run, making a tie at 20 apiece. This resulted in a CSUN timeout by interim head coach Susie Terrusa in an attempt to rally her troops. A kill by Waggoner gave CSUN a 23-21 lead, which got the crowd on their feet. With one finger in the air, the crowd signified that the Matadors only needed one more point to close out the set. A kill by CSUN middle blocker Lauryn Anderson gave CSUN the set 25-22.

“Leave everything on the court because we don’t want to come back on this game and have regrets that we didn’t leave it all,” said Nevarez, who had a team high 13 kills along with six digs.

CSUN brought the score within four in the third set (6-2) after a Bradford bump to McLeod, who came flying out of the back court for the kill. An 8-2 lead by UH in the set led to an urgent timeout by the Matadors.

UH outside hitter Martyna Leoniak got one of her five aces in this set as she gave UH a 10-4 lead. Nevarez could not handle the serve. UH middle blocker Skyler Williams got back-to-back blocks later in the set, giving UH a 21-8 lead.

Seyvion Waggoner, left, Lauryn Anderson and Nicole Nevarez doing a triple block against Hawai’i ‘s outside hitter in Northridge, Calif., on Oct. 23, 2021. (Connor Clark)

CSUN showed signs of life later in the set as they went on a 3-0 run with a kill from Orshoff and back to back aces from Bradford. It was not enough, as Hawai’i took the set 25-15 after a kill by Lang.

The final set had 11 tie scores and four lead changes. The set started off with a disagreement from CSUN players and coach Terrusa after a touch call by the referee that was challenged by CSUN. The challenge was unsuccessful, giving UH a 1-0 lead. A kill by Waggoner later in the set would tie the game at eight apiece, after a Matador 3-0 run.

UH went on a 3-0 run later in the set, giving them a 16-13 lead. CSUN came right back with a 3-0 run to tie it at 16. A kill by CSUN middle blocker Abigail Macias would tie the game at 19 and result in a UH timeout.

A kill by Nevarez brought the Matadors within one (22-21), but Hawai’i went on a 3-0 run to take the set and win the match.

“I was happy with how we played,” Terrusa said. “We didn’t give up, we fought back. I mean that’s a really good team and we were close in that set, we were close to taking it to five. We’re done with the first half of conference, so we’re looking to make some improvements for the second half.”

CSUN is now 3-7 in conference and will travel to UC San Diego on Friday to try and get their fourth Big West win.