The infamous “There’s no place like home” line from “The Wizard of Oz” could be a good description for the Matadors women’s volleyball team.
Home matches have been few and far between for the Matadors this season. With three matches at home to open the season in the Fremont Invitational and two during the month of September, the well-traveled Matadors are looking forward to some Matadome action in the coming weeks.
With two of the team’s three wins coming at home, the Matadors are looking forward to this weekend, and the remainder of October, to end their four-match losing streak and improve on their overall 3-11 record and 1-3 record in conference play.
The first team standing in the Matadors’ way is Long Beach State, who CSUN will take on Friday night.
The 49ers, who split their first two Big West matches last week, travel to UC Irvine on Thursday before this weekend’s match in Northridge. Long Beach lost in three to UC Santa Barbara in its conference opener Sept. 30, but defeated Cal Poly in four games on Oct. 1. Junior Rosie Lewis had 20 kills against Cal Poly, but the 49ers hit just .159 as a team after hitting .162 against the Gauchos.
Sophomore Alexis Crimes leads Long Beach in hitting at .379, and also averages a team-high 3.58 kpg. Freshman Ali Daley is second on the team at 3.18 kpg with 159 kills in 50 games. Head coach Brian Gimmillaro is in his 21st season with the 49ers and has a 564-132 overall record. Friday’s match will be the 16th meeting all-time between the Matadors and 49ers, with Long Beach State holding an 11-4 advantage.
Last season, the two teams split a pair of matches, and CSUN won two of the last three in the series.
The Matadors will not get much of a break as they take on the UC Davis Aggies Saturday night in a non-conference match.
The Aggies, who play at Pacific tonight before traveling south to Northridge, have a 2-15 record. After opening the season with three losses, UC Davis won its next two before losing its last 12 matches. Freshman Chantal Paschetta had 23 kills in the Aggies’ four-game loss to Cal State Fullerton Sept. 30, and averages a team-high 3.76 kpg.
Sophomore setter Katelyn Astruc is averaging 8.02 assists per game and has a team-high 27 service aces. Head coach Stephanie Hawbecker is in her sixth season with the Aggies and has a 61-100 school record. Overall, Hawbecker is 227-234 in her 15th season of coaching.
Saturday’s match will be the fifth meeting all-time between the Matadors and Aggies, with CSUN holding a perfect 4-0 record. Last season, the Matadors won in four games, in Davis, in the first meeting between the two teams since 1988.
With the Big West season shortened to 14 matches this season due to the departure of Utah State and Idaho from the conference, this week marks the halfway point of the conference season. CSU Fullerton, picked to finish last in the Big West preseason poll, is currently in first place in conference standings at 3-0, followed by Pacific and UC Santa Barbara at 2-1.
With 279 digs over CSUN’s first 14 matches, junior libero Jamie Crawford is on pace to break the Matador single-season record currently held by Jessika Hammerich. Hammerich, the Matador libero in 2004, recorded a school-record 521 digs in 113 games for an average of 4.61 digs per game.
Crawford’s current pace of 5.07 digs per game would give her 558 digs this season. Crawford still needs 104 digs this season to enter the season top 10 in digs and is 192 digs short of the career top 10. Crawford had a career-best 36 digs in the five-game loss to Arizona State on Aug. 26.
That was the second-best total in a five-game match in school history behind Nancy Ma’s 44 digs against CSU Sacramento in 1996. Ma’s record total, however, came before the rally scoring format was instituted in 2001.
After this weekend’s matches, CSUN heads back out on the road for a tough two-match trip at UC Santa Barbara and at Cal Poly.
The Matadors will return home beginning Oct. 20 when CSUN hosts CSU Fullerton to begin a season-long four-match homestand.
Justin Satzman can be reached at email@example.com.