CSUN women’s volleyball faces two Big West Conference rivals

Christina Azouz

After winning their last two home games, the Matadors make a quick stop at Big West leader Cal State Fullerton tonight before returning home to face UC Irvine on Saturday.

This will be the first meeting between the Matadors (8-12, 1-4 Big West) and Titans (15-4, 4-1 Big West) of the season.  Last year, the Matadors won the first match of the season 3-1 at Fullerton and lost the next meeting 3-0 at the Matadome.

The Titans (10-0 at home) are tied for the best record in the Big West with UC Santa Barbara.  Cal State Fullerton extended its three-game winning streak last Saturday when they defeated UC Davis 3-2. 

Senior middle blocker Erin Saddler leads the Titans with 291 kills and 4.88 points per set.  Saddler had a match-high 22 kills and 11 digs in the team’s last game against UC Davis.  Junior setter Andrea Ragan leads Cal State Fullerton and the Big West with 755 assists and averages 11.8 assists per set.

As a team, the Titans lead the Big West Conference with 14.52 kills per set, a hitting percentage of .267, 13.56 assists per set, and 1.33 service aces per set.
“We don’t worry about what other teams do,” junior outside hitter Una Siljegovic said. “We are focusing more on ourselves.”

The Matadors then come home to face UC Irvine on Saturday.

This will also be the first meeting of the season between the Matadors and UC Irvine (5-13, 1-4 Big West). Last season, the Anteaters swept CSUN beating them 3-1 at the Matadome and 3-0 at home.

“UC Irvine and us have the same record,” junior middle blocker/outside hitter Puneet Pataria said.  “But every team is a good team despite their records.”

UC Irvine lost its last match against Loyola Marymount 3-2.  Senior outside hitter Kari Pestolesi leads the Anteaters with 210 kills and sophomore setter Marissa Alvarez leads the team with 393 assists.  Sophomore libero Kristin Winkler leads with 312 digs.  UC Irvine leads the Big West Conference with 17.72 digs per set.

 CSUN won its first conference game last Saturday when they defeated UC Riverside 3-1 and believe more wins are on the way.

“The players are putting in a lot of work to move up the ladder,” CSUN coach Jeff Stork said.  “It won’t be easy but we believe in ourselves.”

The Matadors are second in the Big West when it comes to service aces with 1.32 per set.  CSUN has 103 total service aces.  Junior setter Sam Orlandini has a team high 22 service aces and freshman opposite hitter Natalie Allen has 18. 

Allen leads the team with 235 kills and 277.5 points followed by freshman Mahina Haina with 162 kills and 179 points. Sophomore defensive specialist/libero Cindy Ortiz leads the Matadors with 249 digs. 

“Hopefully we work hard at practice,” Orlandini said.  “And play hard during the game.”

The Matadors will have a week off before traveling up north to take on Cal Poly on Oct. 22.