The Matador women’s volleyball team lost its first conference game of the season, blowing a two-game lead and losing to the UC Riverside Highlanders 26-30, 15-30, 30-26, 30-19 and 15-8 Friday night at UC Riverside’s Student Recreation Center.
In game one, the Matadors overcame an early Highlander lead by taking advantage of poor passing to pull out a 30-26 win. The passing problems resulted in UCR having just 30 attacks and recording only nine kills, hitting .067 in the game.
In contrast, CSUN had 20 kills, led by freshman Jenn Probert, with seven, hitting .312 (7-2-16) in the game and splitting team-high honors with freshman Darla Donaldson’s with 16 kills.
In game two, the Highlanders struggles continued as the Matadors built a 14-8 lead. The Matadors then used an 8-1 run to build a 22-9 lead, propelling them to a 30-15 win. The Matadors hit .368 (16-2-38), compared to UCR’s .093 (11-7-43).
Game three was the closest game of the match. The teams were tied at 16-16 when Highlander Valerie Bueno gave UCR the lead with a kill and followed with an ace for an 18-16 lead.
But the Matadors came back to take a 20-19 lead before UCR tied it again at 20-20. UCR then went on a 4-1 run to take a 24-21 lead, forcing the Matadors to call a time out.
The lead expanded to 28-22, but the Matadors did not quit, cutting the lead to 29-26 before Bueno finished the game off with a big kill for a 30-26 win.
Game four did not start in the Matadors favor as they fell behind 9-5. The Highlander lead grew to 15-8, before the Matadors mounted a comeback, scoring five straight to cut the margin to 15-13. UCR mounted a rally of their own, building a 22-14 lead, finishing off the Matadors, 30-19 and forcing a game five.
The Highlanders opened the fifth game with a 4-0 lead. The Matadors quickly responded by calling a time out. UCR built a 7-2 lead, but the Matadors cut the margin to 8-6 at the switch.
CSUN scored the first point out of the switch, but UCR finished the match with a 7-1 run, completing the comeback and giving the Matadors their first conference loss of the semester.
With the win, the Highlanders improved its record to 11-1 and 1-0 in the Big West. The Matadors dropped to 3-9 overall and suffer their first conference lose (1-1).
“UCR started to serve short, and it took (us) out of our rhythm,” Head Coach Jeff Stork said. “But maybe we relaxed a little bit, and Riverside is a very good team.”
CSUN continued its three-match road trip traveling to Cal State Fullerton to take on the Titans.
The Matadors did not fair any better against the Titans as CSUN was swept 30-28, 30-27 and 30-27, in three straight games.
The only bright spots from CSUN was freshman Harmony Burdine’s 12 kills and 11 digs and freshman setter Kayla Wright’s 14 digs and 34 set -assists.
“We were in all three games,” Stork said. “But we made a couple little mistakes and you cannot do that against a good team like Fullerton.”
For the Titans, Sarah Morrison, Alyssa Opeka and Breanna Trudeau led the attack while Julie Giessert set 43 assists, keeping the Titans undefeated in Big West play for the first time in school history. The victory improved the Titans to 7-1 at home this season.
With the win, the Titans improved its record to 9-5 overall and 2-0 in the conference, while the Matadors dropped its third straight and fell to 3-10 overall and 1-2 in conference play.
CSUN finishes its road trip next Saturday against Pacific.
“Even though we lost these matches, we are improving as a team,” Stork said. “We learned we need to train differently because the teams we are playing are better.”
Justin Satzman can be reached at email@example.com.