The Matadors were unable to stop the momentum of the Loyola Marymount Lions as they lost in five sets in front of the home crowd at the Matadome.
“Certainly we had opportunities in the third set,” head coach Jeff Stork said. “We missed one or two plays two-thirds of the way through the third set and we lost a little bit of momentum. Had we had one of those plays to keep the momentum going in our favor, I think we would have been up 3-0.”
Freshman opposite hitter Cieana Stinson led the Matadors with 15 kills and 8 block assists. Redshirt junior outside hitter Kathleen Luft led the Lions with 17 kills and three digs.
In the first set, CSUN was in the driver’s seat, going up 13-7 before forcing a second timeout for the Lions.
After that timeout, the Lions went on a 2-0 run before sophomore middle blocker Casey Hinger fired off an arcing kill from the right side to make it 15-9. Hinger had ten kills and seven block assists in the match.
“We’re athletes, we don’t like to lose,” Hinger said. “If we’re losing, it’s a bummer, but that’s always something tough you have to battle through, especially in an important game like that.”
LMU tried to get an attack going from the right side, but junior outside hitter Britney Graff blocked the kill from middle blocker Litara Keil. Graff finished with 12 kills and 9 digs while Keil had 11 kills and three block assists.
The Matadors won the first set 25-14.
Graff hit a kill from the left side that shot off Taylor Scioscia, daughter of Angels head coach Mike Scioscia, and went into the stands to give CSUN a three point lead.
Hinger and junior setter Sydney Gedryn won the second set via a block that put CSUN in position to win 25-18. Gedryn finished with seven kills, six digs, and 44 assists.
The Matadors had an average hitting percentage in the first two sets of 53 percent and a sideout percentage of 79. But the tide soon changed on Northridge, for the worse.
LMU opened the third set with a serve that sent Graff sprawling on the floor to lead the third set, but Hinger got a kill soon after to even the score.
The Lions responded with a 3-0 run and set point and a Hannah Tedrow set ace won Loyola the third set 25-22, a set that LMU won by making adjustments that gave Northridge fits.
Hinger suggested Loyola’s middle blocking was what made things difficult in the third set.
“They got a lot more aggressive with their blocking and defense, they were digging us a lot,” Hinger said. “They just picked up their momentum and we tried to do the same.”
Northridge lost the fourth set 25-13, setting the stage for a decisive fifth set.
Graff and Kaul stuffed the Lions block to go up 3-2. A Lions hitting error put CSUN up 4-2, causing irate head coach Tom Black to get a yellow card.
A Loyola serve error gave Matadors match point, and bringing the Matadome faithful to their feet, but Stinson hit it out of bounds to make it 14-13.
Forced to win by two, an ace serve by Betsi Metter brought the Lions fans up. On the next set, the LMU block dropped the ball right into the Matador backcourt to win the match 16-14.
“We had two good opportunities to score late in the set, but it didn’t go our way,” Stork said.
The volleyball team departs on its final road trip of the season this week, visiting UC Davis on Friday and Pacific on Saturday before finishing the season at home.