It may be too late for the Northridge women’s volleyball team to make a run for the Big West regular season title, but winning the last two road matches would be a meaningful way to end the season.
The Matadors currently stand 8-20 overall and 4-10 in the Big West. The four wins beats their 3-13 conference finish in the 2008 season.
CSUN will play Cal Poly first, which currently holds a similar record, 8-20 overall and 4-11 in conference. The Mustangs are second to last in conference just ahead of UC Riverside.
“Going to Cal Poly and Santa Barbara are two tough matches,” CSUN head coach Jeff Stork said.
In early October, Cal Poly defeated Northridge in five sets during their first meeting.
The Matadors are coming off a split weekend beating Long Beach in five sets and then dropping three straight to Fullerton.
Mustang middle blocker Dominique Olowolafe currently stands in third place in the Big West ranking hitting percentage with a .336 clip and freshmen outside hitter Megan McConnell’s 294 kills ranks her 10th in attacks.
These two offensive weapons are joined by freshmen setter Anuhea Keanini, ranking ninth in assists with 904, and junior libero Alison Mort who has tallied 469 digs this season, placing her third in the Big West.
Despite the success in these four categories, Cal Poly has no representation on either the serving aces or blocks lists. Not to discredit current ace and blocks team leaders, but this may work to CSUN’s advantage.
With the repositioning of senior outside hitter Angela Hupp to setter and one of the strongest hitters, Brittany Williams, injured, Northridge has been struggling lately to produce much offense.
“I miss her so much (on the court),” junior middle blocker Lynda Morales said of the absent Williams. “But she’s very supportive off the court.”
And with their last match against UC Santa Barbara, one of four teams in the Big West with 10 wins, the Matadors will need all the support they can get.
“Cal Poly is a young team,” Stork said. “Santa Barbara is playing for a little more, they have more motivation. We’re trying to scramble through and keep up the players’ focus and determination.”
Depending on the perspective, the Gauchos are currently tied for second, or third, in the Big West with UC Davis.
“We’ve done pretty well against Santa Barbara in the last couple years,” Stork has said. “They do certain things real well. (Their) first contact is very good.”
Leading the Gauchos and the Big West in kills is senior outside hitter Rebecca Saraceno with 449, 4.54 per set. Saraceno also ranks seventh in aces with 28, behind fellow Gaucho Leah Sully, a freshman outside hitter, who’s claimed the top spot with 44 aces.
Northridge only has three players ranked in the Big West individually. Sophomore Sam Orlandini is last in assists with 737, and freshman Monica McFarland’s 397 digs places her ninth. Senior Tela Burnett still leads with 122 total blocks.
For Burnett and Hupp, this will be the last weekend they put on a jersey with Northridge on the back.