CSUN hopes for first victory against UCLA

    The CSUN women’s volleyball team faces a huge obstacle in its home opener tonight against No. 13 UCLA at the Matadome.

    The Matadors (3-6) have never defeated the Bruins (7-1) in 12 opportunities, but CSUN head coach Jeff Stork is not worried about the past.

    “If we beat them it will give us a lot of confidence,” Stork said. “We need to stay in our system a little more. We can take more risks also.”

    UCLA, who was predicted to finish seventh in the Pac-10 standings, started its season at the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational in Hawaii, where they went 2-1. The Bruins beat Kansas State and No. 22 San Diego in three straight sets but lost to the host No. 5 Hawaii, three sets to one.

    Then UCLA won the San Jose State/SMC Tournament by going 3-0, beating San Jose State in three straight sets, Saint Mary’s three sets to one and UC Riverside in three straight sets.

    In their first game at Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins defeated Pepperdine in three straight sets. Last Thursday UCLA went on the road to get a victory against CSU Bakersfield.

    Senior outside hitter Dicey McGraw leads UCLA with 82 kills (.246) and junior setter Lauren Van Orden has a team high 273 assists. Junior libero/defensive specialist Lainey Gera leads the Bruins with 110 digs.

    As a team, UCLA has 371 kills, 346 assists, and 386 digs compared to a combined 281 kills, 259 assists, and 321 digs by their opponents. UCLA does most of its damage in the third set, outscoring their opponents 200-138.

    Unfortunately, the Matadors have not had the same success as the Bruins. CSUN started its season losing their first three matches in the Aztec Invitational.  The Matadors lost to San Diego State and Cincinnati in three straight sets and lost to Northern Colorado three sets to two.

    At the Sacramento State Invitational, the Matadors had better success.  They won the first two matches against Elon (three sets to two) and against University of Texas at San Antonio (three sets to one). The Matadors had an opportunity to win the tournament but came up short against Sacramento State in four sets.

    In their most recent tournament, the San Jose State/Santa Clara Tournament, the Matadors went 1-2.  They lost a heartbreaker to Seattle University in five sets and beat Santa Clara in three sets to one. The Matadors last game was not a good one. They lost in straight sets to Portland State on Saturday.

    Freshman opposite hitter Natalie Allen leads CSUN with 118 kills and junior setter Sam Orlandini has a team high 312 assists. Sophomore outside hitter Monica McFarland leads CSUN with 116 digs.

    The Matadors have been without sophomore outside hitter Britney Graff, who had a solid freshman season a year ago. Graff was out the previous tournaments due to a shoulder injury. She will not play against UCLA.

    CSUN’s next three matches are in Las Vegas for the UNLV Classic starting Sept. 17.