CSUN women’s volleyball returns home to face Loyola Marymount

Julio Alberto Cruz

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The CSUN women’s volleyball team ends its non-conference schedule tonight, as they host Loyola Marymount University (LMU)at the Matadome.

The Matadors (6-7) lost to the Lions (6-6) in five sets last season, but this time around,  CSUN will try to come out on the winning side.

Not only do the Lions have a new head coach and new players, but the Matadors are coming off a three-game winning streak after winning the UNLV Classic this past weekend in Las Vegas.

“We are playing with lots of confidence right now,” CSUN head coach Jeff Stork said. “We will scout them more, but we’re confident.”

LMU does have a couple of players, like junior Jasmine Rankings and sophomore Felicia Arriola, who have 316 kills out of the team’s 575.

However, the Matadors not only have a couple of new players providing strong offense play, but they share the wealth throughout.

Freshmen Mahina Haina and Natalie Allen have been striking on all offensive cylinders in the last couple of weeks.

The team has also received solid offensive play from sophomore Monica McFarland, who is second in the team with 121 kills.

Junior setter Sam Orlandini has been the team’s consistent player, leading the team in serving completions and boasting 455 assists out of the team’s 603.

In the UNLV Classic, the Matadors beat UNLV (2-10) Friday, and Xavier (7-5) and San Jose State (5-8) Saturday in a convincing manner.

“This weekend boosted up our confidence,” Stork said. “We’ll be ready for them (LMU). We must continue to play steady, minimize our errors, perform at a high level and maximize our aggressive play.”

As the Matadors prepare themselves to play well—not only against the Lions tonight but throughout the season—a few things must be done.

“We have to get the players to believe in what we are doing,” Stork said.

According to Stork, the team has been on the road almost every weekend this season, so getting some rest, being back at home and continuing to train hard will be key for them to succeed.

After tonight’s home game, the Matadors will host UC Santa Barbara on Friday night for their first Big West Conference match of the season.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Matador to watch: Freshman outside hitter Mahina Haina.
Haina is third on the team with 101 kills, as she has been on an offensive tear as of late. She led the team to its first straight-sets win of the season last Friday with 14 kills. In the match that won them their first tournament of the season, she topped that with a career-high 15 kills.

Lion to watch: Junior outside and opposite hitter Jasmine Rankings.
Rankings is leading the team with 167 kills of her own. At LMU, she only had 15 kills as a freshman in 2008, but stepped her game up just a bit in 2009 with a total of 61 kills.