Women’s volleyball struggles to find winning way

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The CSUN women’s volleyball team played at home for the first time in two weeks, but were swept 33-31, 30-21 and 30-25 by conference rival Long Beach State on Oct. 7 at the Matadome.

The team suffered another loss the very next day to the also struggling UC Davis team in four games.

In the first match the Matadors trailed for most of the first game, but never by more than four points until the 49ers opened up a 23-16 lead on Long Beach State senior Ericka Chidester’s kill.

CSUN took six of the next nine points to make the score 26-22. But the 49ers answered sparked by junior Mariko Crum’s kill and an ace by senior Sara Kroneberger to take a 28-22 lead. The Matadors fought back and saving six game points to tie the score at 29-29.

Freshman Amy Hultner served an ace giving CSUN a game point at 30-29, but Long Beach freshman Quincy Verdin answered with a kill to tie the score 30-30.

CSUN freshman Darla Donaldson answered a Chidester kill with a slam of her own, squaring the game again at 31-31. But Donaldson’s service error and the attack error by freshman Harmony Burdine gave the Matadors the heartbreaking 33-31 loss.

“I thought we were going to win game one,” head coach Jeff Stork said. “We had a real good run at them (Long Beach State).”

In games two and three, the 49ers raced out to a big lead as CSUN was forced to play behind. In game two, CSUN could not mount another comeback and lost by nine.

In game three, CSUN battled back from an 18-11 deficit to get within four points at 24-20, but the 49ers defeated the Matadors in the third game as well..

“I think we need to talk more,” said freshman setter Kayla Wright.

“People try to say things that will help others get lifted up, but sometimes other people do not put the effort to change. We need to have everyone talking otherwise it does not work.”

With the win, the 49ers improved its record to 13-4 overall and 3-1 in the Big West Conference, while the Matadors dropped its record to 3-12 and 1-4 in conference play.

The only hitters to reach double figures in kills for CSUN were Donaldson with 12 and freshman Val Kepler with 10. The Matadors received 42 assists from Wright and a match-high 15 digs from junior Jamie Crawford.

Freshman Ali Daley led the 49ers with a match-high 14 kills while Chidester added 13 kills. Freshman setter Nicole Vargas came off the bench to record 23 assists and eight digs, while senior libero Heather Laudato had 15 digs for Long Beach.

“I don’t (think) we were quite ready for the kind of tempo that Long Beach played,” said junior Hilary Brinkman. “But it was great to play at home and have my family and friends in attendance. Playing in California is great.”

It did not get any better for CSUN as they lost to UC Davis 24-30, 30-22, 30-27, 30-7 on Oct 8, extending their losing streak to six while the Aggies snapped a 13-game losing streak of their own.

Burdine and the Matadors came out strong, winning game one, as CSUN hit .472 and Burdine had eight kills. The Matadors limited UC Davis to a .158 hitting percentage as CSUN broke open a 9-9 tie with six straight points to go ahead 15-9 and never looked back.

With game two tied 14-14, the Aggies used a 3-0 run to go up 17-14 on junior Nicole Read’s kill. The lead eventually grew to 24-16 after a Burdine attack error which propelled the Aggies to a 30-22 win.

In game three, the score was tied 16 times, the last time at 24-24 before the Aggies got three straight kills from Read to open up a 27-24 lead. The Matadors climbed back within two, but could not get any closer.

In game four, UC Davis used a 6-0 run to open up an 18-12 cushion and then held on to win the game 30-27 and the match.

“We have a hard time coming on strong,” Burdine said. “We need more intensity, we need to always be positive and to not get down.”

With the win, the Aggies improved its record to 3-16 overall, while the Matadors dropped to 3-13. The team has lost six in a row and 10 of its last 11.

The next match’s for the Matadors will be on the road starting at UC Santa Barbara on Friday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m.

“I was disappointed to lose,” Stork said.

Justin Satzman can be reached at justin.satzman@csun.edu.