Women’s Volleyball: Matadors drop Gauchos in four sets

    The Matadors avenged being swept earlier this season by the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos by defeating their northern rivals in four sets at the Matadome.

    Sophomore middle blocker Sam Kaul jousts for the ball against a UCSB player. Kaul finished with five kills. Photo credit: Claudia Gonzalez / Contributor

    Junior outside hitter Mahina Haina and freshman hitter Cieana Stinson led CSUN with 13 kills each.  Haina added a service ace and Stinson pitched in with two blocks.

    “We were all clicking really well, we were on the same page and we really wanted it,” Haina said.  “We want to make sure we keep our second spot.  This was a big game.”

    After going down 2-0, Stinson shot a kill over the block off the fingers of Santa Barbara outside hitter Leah Sully.

    Late in the first set, Sully hit a kill off the Gedryn block to make it 24-17 and followed it up with another cross-court kill to win the first set for the Gauchos, 25-18.

    But after that, it was all Matadors, led by Stinson, junior outside hitter Britney Graff and Haina.

    “The change had to do with our offense,” said head coach Jeff Stork.  We had six kills in the first set, we had 17 in the second set.  Turning points tend to have to do with keeping ourselves in an offensive rhythm.”

    Stinson and sophomore middle blocker Sam Kaul blocked a UCSB offensive to put CSUN up 12-10, forcing a Santa Barbara timeout.

    Graff hit a powerful kill down the left side of the court after a long rally that included Elizabeth Meddaugh taking a kill to the face.  CSUN followed with another kill to go up 16-12.

    UCSB overhit the sideline to make it 24-19, but Kara Sherrard got the ball back.  Graff hit the ball soon after, but it was ruled out of bounds, cutting the Northridge lead to 24-21.

    Hinger stuffed the block to win the second set 25-21 and even the match.  Later, she won the third set with one of her trademark skyhook kills.

    Stinson started the fourth set off with a kill off a UCSB defender.  CSUN went on a 3-0 run courtesy of a Hinger kill that ricocheted into the Matadome seats.

    CSUN opened up the set on a 6-1 run via a block from the tandem of Graff and Hinger, forcing a UCSB timeout.  Soon after, Hinger and Gedryn teamed up for a block to put the Matadors up 8-1.

    Haina hit a kill that ricocheted off Gaucho libero Taylor Formico and into the UCSB bench to make it 11-3 CSUN.  Soon after, Haina hit another kill off a Gaucho, this time Britton Taylor.

    “There was really good energy, it was really exciting and I took advantage of that,” Haina said.

    “Everybody was setting me up, Syd (Gedryn) and the passing were great.”

    Sully airmailed the ball over the heads of the Matadors out of bounds, but responded with a kill herself to make it 15-7.

    Graff sent the ball into the Gaucho defense, who played it like it was a game of “hot potato” but couldn’t get it over, giving the Matadors a 17-8 lead and forcing a UCSB timeout.

    Sully hit a cross-court kill and followed it up with a tip over the net to get the Gauchos within seven, but a UCSB service error gave Haina the ball with a 22-13 lead.

    Stinson nailed the ball right off Sully to seal the deal for the Matadors 25-14.

    After sweeping Cal Poly on Thursday and the win against Santa Barbara, the Matadors look to continue their three-game winning streak against Loyola Marymount on Saturday in the final nonconference match of the season.