CSUN sports roundup 02/08 – 02/14

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Aliyah Hinckley

The CSUN men’s volleyball team huddles after a play against the UCLA Bruins on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, at the Premier America Credit Union Arena in Northridge, Calif.

Joseph Gonzalez, Reporter

While the seasons are winding down for some of CSUN’s sports programs, others are just getting started. This week saw many teams make a push in the standings, while others attempted to start their campaigns strong.

Men’s golf

The golf team is led by Jim Bracken, who started his 37th season at the helm for CSUN this fall.

The team’s best finish in the fall was on their home field at the Bill Cullum Invitational, where the Matadors earned first place out of 10 teams.

Next match: The men’s golf team will continue its season in Riverside at The Joust at Goose Creek, a two-day event starting Monday, Feb. 20 with 36 holes.

Women’s golf

The women’s golf team finished 13th out of 13 at the Valley Invitational in Bakersfield in the first week of February. Freshman Gracie Piar led the Matadors for the third time this year, hitting 19-over 235.

The team bounced back at the Utah Tech Trailblazer Invitational in Washington, Utah on Feb. 13-14. Piar claimed CSUN’s first individual championship since 2018, leading the team to a second-place finish out of nine teams.

Next match: Pizza Hut Lady Thunderbird Invitational from March 9-11.

Men’s volleyball

The CSUN men’s volleyball team huddles after a play against the UCLA Bruins on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, at the Premier America Credit Union Arena in Northridge, Calif. (Aliyah Hinckley)

Head coach Theo Edwards has a nationally ranked team at 14th in the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s coaches poll. Their thrilling win against Stanford on Feb. 3 left a lot of optimism for the rest of the season. The team looked to deliver on that hope against Princeton, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Fairleigh Dickinson last week.

Their first match against Princeton last Wednesday was tight from the start. The teams exchanged the first two sets, making it 1-1. The Tigers looked to finish the match after winning the third set, but the Matadors prevailed and won the last two to take the match. Redshirt junior Kyle Hobus led both teams with 21 kills, while sophomore Donovan Constable had 44 assists.

Friday’s match against NJIT was similar to Wednesday’s match. The Matadors and the Highlanders swapped sets, and NJIT made it to the doorstep of victory. But the Matadors came back and finished off the Highlanders, 3-2. Hobus once again led the team. He finished with the most kills and blocks for CSUN, and had an ace as well.

The New Jersey visit ended on Saturday morning against the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights. The Matadors won the match in convincing fashion, 3-0. Junior Griffin Walters played a key role in the victory, and had three digs and two aces.

Next match: Feb. 16 at home vs. Benedictine University at 7 p.m.

Women’s water polo

After three weeks of action, the women’s water polo team is sitting on a 5-3 record.
Saturday’s first matchup in the Cal Lutheran Invitational was against the tournament host. The Matadors led 4-3 after a close first quarter before shutting out Lutheran in the second, making their lead 7-3. The Regals got a point back in the third, scoring three to the Matadors’ two. CSUN put up four more points in the last quarter, winning 13-9.

The Matadors then faced a familiar opponent, Concordia, whom they defeated 11-10 one week prior at the Triton invitational.

CSUN came out strong, outscoring their opponent 7-4 after two quarters. The Matadors never trailed the Golden Eagles and won 12-9. Seven different Matadors scored a goal in the game.

Next match: Feb. 17 at Cal State Monterey Bay at 2 p.m.

Men’s basketball

The men’s basketball team is in full conference mode, with all of its remaining games being against Big West foes.

The team has dug itself out of last place in the Big West standings, and is now half a game out of ninth place.

Last Thursday’s game was on the road against CSU Bakersfield. The Matadors struggled to keep up with the Roadrunners, and trailed 43-24 after the first half. CSUN outscored Bakersfield 34-30 in the second half, but that wasn’t enough as they lost 73-58. Redshirt junior guard De’Sean Allen-Eikens was a bright spot as he led the squad with 14 points and two blocks in 32 minutes.

On Saturday afternoon, the Matadors hosted last-place Cal Poly. CSUN started slow in the first half and fell behind 28-20 by halftime. The team woke up after the break though, scoring 44 points in the second half while holding Cal Poly to 25. The second half catapulted the Matadors to victory, 64-53. Now sitting at 3-12 in conference play, CSUN looks to pull off more upsets.

Next game: Feb. 18 at UC San Diego at 7 p.m.

Women’s basketball

Head coach Carlene Mitchell and her team have clawed their way from last to ninth in the Big West Conference standings. With two more Big West games this week, the Matadors can move up to seventh.

CSUN played host to CSU Bakersfield last Thursday night. The Matadors led at halftime by a score of 45-29. The third quarter featured only a nine-point outing from the Matadors, but the team built a large enough lead for the poor performance to not impact the outcome. CSUN ended the game in victory, 69-60. Three different players finished with double-digit scoring for the Matadors.

CSUN then headed up north to face the Cal Poly Mustangs on Saturday. Both teams scored 19 points in the first quarter and10 points in the second, tying at halftime. CSUN took a two-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough against Cal Poly. The Mustangs scored 22 points to the Matadors’ nine in the final frame, defeating CSUN 61-50. CSUN shot 0-10 from the 3-point line. This loss gave Cal Poly the tiebreaker over the Matadors as both teams sat on a 4-10 record in conference play.

Next game: Feb. 18 vs. UC San Diego at 2 p.m.

Baseball

The baseball team is heading into the season with Matador head coach Eddie Cornejo leading the way for the first time. Cornejo has been a part of the program since 2020. He was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, before being promoted to associate head coach last season.

The team will face off against Stony Brook at home for a three-game series starting Friday, Feb. 17.

Softball

Softball started its season at the San Diego State University Season Kickoff in San Diego. Led by head coach Charlotte Morgan, who is in her third season, the team started hot in its first five games.

First off were the 22nd nationally-ranked ASU Sun Devils. The game began as a defensive battle until the Matadors scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth. The Sun Devils answered by scoring three runs in the top of the sixth. The game headed into extra innings, where ASU scored three runs in the top of the eighth. CSUN had a chance to tie the game at the bottom of the eighth, but failed and left one runner on base, losing 6-3.

The second game against SDSU was another close battle. After the Aztecs took a 4-1 lead into the seventh, the Matadors responded with a three-run inning of their own, tying the game 4-4. In the bottom of the eighth, SDSU won on a walk-off single.

After two extra innings losses, the Matadors played Memphis in the battle of the winless. CSUN came out scoring in the first two innings, taking a 2-0 lead. Memphis never matched, as the Matadors shut them out, 5-0. Sophomore Alexis Martinez earned her first win of the season.

Saturday’s doubleheader started against Notre Dame. The Matadors scored first in the top of the second off a scoring error.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Fighting Irish scored four runs off of a pair of doubles. Down three in their final at-bats, CSUN tied the game thanks to a three-run homer from senior Jordan Kaeka. The Matadors once again went to extra innings, failing to score in the top of the eighth and leaving the door open for a walk-off. Norte Dame took advantage with a walk-off RBI single.

CSUN looked to bounce back from their thrilling game in the last match of the kickoff against Northern Illinois. After the Matadors secured a shutout in the top of the first, an RBI double from sophomore Mikalya Carman gave them the lead.

Martinez led the pitching staff, allowing two runs in four innings. Freshman Isabella Alonso followed up by shutting out the Huskies in three innings of relief. CSUN’s offense also delivered eight runs in the 8-2 victory over Northern Illinois.

Next game: Feb. 17 at the CBU Classic vs. Colorado State at 10 a.m.