The CSUN women’s volleyball team will be looking for its first win of the season in the state capital, as they compete in the Sacramento State Invitational. The Matadors will take on Elon University on Friday and then have a doubleheader on Saturday against the University of Texas at San Antonio and the host Hornets.
This will be the first time the Matadors play Elon, who is picked to finish second in the North Division of the Southern Conference.
“We have never played them before,” CSUN head coach Jeff Stork said. “We’ll watch some film and tell the players how we plan to play them.”
Elon is coming off winning the Hilton RTP/North Carolina Central University Tournament last weekend. The Phoenix had 197 kills and 56 errors in four matches and was the only team to go undefeated in the tournament. Elon was led by senior middle blocker Sarah Schermerhorn, who was named tournament MVP, junior outside hitter Caroline Lemke and sophomore outside hitter Allison Johnson, who both received all-tournament accolades.
The easiest opponent for the Matadors might be the University of Texas at San Antonio. UTSA is picked to finish in a tie for fourth place in the West Division of the Southland Conference. Returning for the Roadrunners is sophomore outside hitter Whitney Walls, who was named to the All-Conference First Team, and senior outside hitter Kendra Rowland, who was named to the All-Conference Second Team.
UTSA started their season last weekend at the Rice Invitational, where they finished with a record of 1-2. The Roadrunners were led by redshirt sophomore setter Kelsey Schwirtlich. Schwirtlich finished with 139 assists, 28 digs and 16 kills and was named to the All-Tournament Team. The first time these two teams met was in 1997 when the Matadors won 3-1.
CSUN’s final game of the tournament is against Sacramento State, who is predicted to finish tied for fifth in the Big Sky Conference.
Sophomore outside hitter Janelle Currey and junior middle hitter Kelsey Elston, who were both named to the All-Tournament Team, led Sacramento State to a 2-1 record and a second place finish in the Corvallis Invitational. The Matadors lead the all-time series with the Hornets 26-21. The last time these teams played was in Sacramento in 2008 when the Matadors won in straight sets.
This will be the second tournament for the Matadors, after finishing the Aztec Invitational with a 0-3 record.
“We were beat, we did not lose those matches,” Stork said. “The teams we played are all in the top 100 in the nation and we fought until the very end in each match.”
During the three matches CSUN shot themselves in the foot multiple times. In five out of 11 sets played CSUN had the lead and allowed their opponents to rally back, including a two sets-to-one lead against Northern Colorado before dropping the last two sets of the match.
“We just need to point-score better and serve better,” Stork said. “We are a stronger team than what we showed in the previous tournament.”
As for the team’s chemistry, senior outside hitter Brittany Williams thinks it has improved.
“It usually takes the first game against an opponent to see how the team chemistry is, and I think it is getting better.”