CSUN women’s volleyball dominates in home opener

The Matadors women’s volleyball team high-fives each other to celebrate scoring against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Oct. 1, 2022, at the Premier America Credit Union Arena in Northridge, Calif.

Luis Silva, Reporter

Looking for their first win in Big West Conference play, the CSUN women’s volleyball team (6-9, 1-2 Big West Conference) returned to home turf at the Premier America Credit Union Arena and defeated the visiting CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners (3-12, 0-3 Big West Conference) on Friday, Sept. 30.

Head coach John Price praised the Matadors’ defensive performance, emphasizing how CSUN used its momentum to shut down any potential rallies from Bakersfield.

“We just wanted to play well, and despite an off night, the match ended up going to three,” Price said. “I thought we played well tonight and we had a really good defense. We never allowed them to get a run.”

The match began with both teams keeping a tight first set until a service and attack error by the Roadrunners allowed the Matadors to take a 15-14 lead. The errors led to a 10-0 run by the Matadors, in which libero Layla Cederlind recorded four of her five total aces in the game. Opposite hitter Magdalena Juric capped off the run by spiking her third kill of the game to secure set one for the Matadors, 25-14.

Matadors opposite hitter Magdalena Juric, 23, jumps to spike the ball against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Oct. 1, 2022, at the Premier America Credit Union Arena in Northridge, Calif. (Aliyah Hinckley)

The Matadors jumped to an early 6-3 lead in set two after an extensive review of an out-of-bounds kill went in their favor. The Roadrunners then grabbed three of the next four points to make it 7-6. Another Juric kill kicked off a 4-0 run for the Matadors, allowing CSUN to increase the lead by five points.

The Roadrunners attempted another rally and managed to reduce the lead to 13-11, before a kill by middle blocker Taylor Hunter kicked off a 5-2 run to give the Matadors a commanding 18-13 lead. Setter Carisa Barron teamed up with Hunter to block another Roadrunners attack and secure the second set for the Matadors, 25-19.

“[I stayed] focused on where the ball was and focused on closing for my teammates as a middle blocker,” Hunter stated, leading all players with four blocks. “My teammates made it pretty easy setting up the blocks.”

The third set began with the Matadors falling behind 5-2, before a Roadrunners attack error began a 4-0 Matadors run, in which Cederlind recorded her fifth ace. With the score at a deadlock, outside hitter Nicole Nevarez delivered a crucial kill that helped break open the set for the Matadors, setting off a 6-1 run.

The Matadors grew their lead to eight as Juric spiked her eighth kill of the night to make it 21-13. The Roadrunners scored one more point before CSUN used another 4-0 run to finish the game with two blocks from Hunter and a pair of kills by Nevarez and setter Emily Sparks.

Hunter cited the team’s energy as one of the key reasons the Matadors won their first conference game of the season.

“We had a ton of aces from Layla. It helped hype us up a lot,” Hunter said. “And us celebrating helped keep the momentum going, along with playing better in general.”

The Matadors lost their home match the next day, 3-1, to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and dropped two five-set nail-biters to CSU Fullerton and CSU Long Beach in a pair of away games from Oct. 7-8.