Matador freshmen continue to shine

Julio Alberto Cruz

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CSUN's freshman, Natalie Allen (9) spikes the ball during Tuesday's match against Loyola Marymount Photo Credit: Patrick Dilanchian / Contributing Photographer

The Matadors again received help from freshmen opposite and outside hitters Natalie Allen and Mahina Haina, who combined for 32 kills in a loss to Loyola Marymount University on Tuesday night at the Matadome.

“The team needed to convert on opportunities,” CSUN head coach Jeff Stork said. “Them two are two good all around volleyball players.”

Including the match against the Lions, the freshmen have combined for 290 kills on the season. However, it was not enough as they lost in four sets to the Lions (7-6). 

Haina gave the Matadors (6-8) her best, with a career-high 19 kills.

“I just try to help the team, I get excited when anyone gets a kill but it is a little bit cooler when I get one,” Haina said.
 
The best player for the Matadors last season was Angela Hupp and this season sophomore outside hitter Britney Graff was going to carry that role, but is out for the year due to an injured right shoulder. 

Even though the Matadors lost to LMU, both Allen and Haina played well together, giving the Matadors a double offensive weapon.  

“Teams try to scout us but when they try to figure us out they leave one of us open on the other side,” Allen said. 

Allen and Haina continue to give strong performances as they hit from both sides, having opponents on their toes wondering where the hit will come from as junior setter Sam Orlandini sets it right on their hands. 

To start the season, Allen was the go-to player, leading the team in kills in four out of the first five matches with a total of 70 kills. In the fourth game of the season, with a win against Elon, Allen had a career-high 20 kills, hitting .366.

“Success comes from our teammates in being able to trust and not treat us like we are freshmen,” Allen said. 

According to Haina, she receives a confidence booster as they find out from Stork if they are starting the same day of a match. 

This past weekend in the UNLV Classic, Haina had a total 29 kills in the two wins against UNLV and Xavier, leading the team in both matches.
“Continue to work hard is all that is needed,” Haina said. 

Haina had 101 kills, hitting .306 before last night’s game and as her numbers and solid play increases, the team’s play could pick up right before they begin conference play this weekend.

The Matadors, led by their two youngsters, hopes to have them increase their play as they host UC Santa Barbara in its first Big West Conference match of the season Friday night.

Allen said that she wants to improve on her defense and hopes to play well this upcoming weekend.
 
“It’s going to be exciting having back-to-back home games,” Allen said.