The CSUN women’s volleyball team kicks off Big West play with a pair of home matches Friday against UC Santa Barbara and Saturday against Cal Poly.
Last season, the Matadors (6-8) lost both matches in three straight sets to the Gauchos (7-5).
“Everyone is 0-0 in conference play, so it’s important for a good start,” said head coach Jeff Stork. “We will prepare for them, work on serving tougher, and be precise in our communication and convert on opportunities.”
The Matadors would like to clean up their serving errors, since as a team they recorded 13 errors in a loss to LMU Tuesday night.
“Our blocking must improve and clean up a few things,” Stork said.
The team also lost both matches against Cal Poly (10-3) last season, the first meeting going to five sets.
According to Stork, the team hopes to get a good start since they are playing at home.
The Matadors are coming off a losing match, though the team did capture its first tournament championship last weekend in the UNLV Classic and is hoping to use that momentum for the conference matches.
What the Matadors have this time around that both the Gauchos and Mustangs did not see last season is the outstanding play from the two freshmen, Natalie Allen and Mahina Haina.
“If we focus on our speed and tempo, we’ll be fine,” said opposite hitter Haina, who had a career-high 19 kills against LMU. “It’s exciting being back home since we’ve been on the road every weekend.”
Haina hopes to carry her exceptional play from the UNLV Classic, where she received All-Tournament honors averaging a team-high 3.73 kps while hitting .400 plus 41 kills and committing just nine errors in 80 swings.
Allen, on the other hand, hopes to get back to that outstanding play she had at the start of the season. She led the team with 34 kills (3.09 kps) and six aces (0.55 saps), ranking among the top 10 in the Big West in both categories in the opening week of the season.
“We have to improve our serving and blocking and work on the opponent’s quick offense,” Allen said, opposite hitter.
Those improvements will be especially needed against the Mustangs, who have won eight straight matches and rank No. 1 percentage-wise in the Best West.
“They (Allen and Haina) stood out and that’s why you see them more, but everyone else is playing well, too,” Stork said.
Junior setter Sam Orlandini is coming off 50 assists with six digs, attacking .600 against LMU. Orlandini also received All-Tournament honors in the UNLV Classic, averaging 9.64 assists while also serving five aces and adding 15 kills.
Sophomore libero Cindy Ortiz was not only named the tournament’s Outstanding Libero after averaging 3.55 digs per set over three matches, but is also coming off 17 digs and three assists against LMU.
When asked what else is needed to have a good weekend, Allen said she hopes fans get to come out and support the team.
“We hope to get a big crowd from the student body,” Stork said.