Women’s volleyball begin much-needed homestand

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The CSUN women’s volleyball team will attempt to end its eight-match losing streak when the team opens up a season-long four-match homestand today against CSU Fullerton and UC Riverside.

The Matadors, who lost a pair of road matches last week at UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly, can end its losing streak tonight, and with a successful homestand, make its way out of the proverbial Big West basement.

The Matadors will first face the CSU Fullerton Titans tonight at 7 p.m. at the Matadome. The Titans, who won its first three Big West matches, have now lost four in a row, including two on the road last weekend. Fullerton is currently fifth in the Big West with a 3-4 conference record. The Titans struggled at Long Beach State as they hit .035 as a team and knocked down just 26 kills.

After that, they were upset at UC Irvine, as the Anteaters registered 14 aces. Senior Sarah Morrison, who had 16 kills in the loss at to Irvine, led the team in kills per game at 3.76. Sophomore setter Julie Geissert leads the Titan offense, averaging 11.56 assists per game.

Head coach Carolyn Zimmerman, a former CSUN assistant coach, is in her fourth season with the Titans and has a 38-71 overall record. Thursday’s match will be the 23rd meeting all-time between the Matadors and Titans, with CSUN holding a 16-6 advantage. The Titans have never won at the Matadome, losing all 10 previous matches.

The next match for CSUN will be Oct. 22 against the UC Riverside Highlanders, also at the Matadome. The Highlanders have lost five of its last seven matches after opening the season 11-1. UCR split two matches on the road last week, beating UC Irvine, before being swept by Long Beach State.

UCR’s only other conference win came over the Matadors in the Big West opener on Sept. 23 in Riverside. Senior Jamie DeKiewiet had a team-high 15 kills in the loss at Long Beach and leads the team in kills averaging 4.83 a game. Senior setter Kym Murphy ranks second in the conference in assists with 12.48 per game.

Head coach Sue Gozansky is in her 36th season with the Highlanders and has a 661-444-16 career record. Saturday’s match will be the 52nd meeting all-time between the Matadors and Highlanders, with CSUN holding a 36-15 advantage in the series.

The Matadors own a 17-2 record against Riverside in Northridge, and have not lost to the Highlanders in the Matadome in 16 years. UCR’s 3-2 win earlier this season ended CSUN’s four game winning streak over the Highlanders.

The Matadors have not lost eight straight matches in nine years, but the team has a long way to go to reach the school-record 21-match losing streak the 1995 team had.

However, there are similarities between this season’s team and the 1995 team. In 1994, head coach Lian Lu’s first year as head coach, the Matadors finished 23-8 and won the NIVC Championship with a senior heavy squad.

Last season’s team finished 17-11, earning a second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament with a heavy senior team. The teams that returned in 1995 and 2005 had two things in common, both were young and inexperienced.

The Matador roster in 1995 featured no seniors, four juniors, four sophomores and five freshmen. This year’s roster has no seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and eight true-freshmen.

Junior libero Jamie Crawford leads the Matadors in digs this season with 357 and needs 26 more digs to move into the top 10 in digs in a season. Dawn Krenik and Kathleen Dixon currently share 10th-place on the season digs list with 383 and Heather Anderson is in ninth with 396. Jessika Hammerich moved to the top of the digs list by recording 521 last season.

Crawford is averaging 5.17 digs per game this season and 357 digs this season gives her 786 digs in her career, which is 114 digs away from reaching the Matador career top 10.

Following this week’s matches, the Matadors host UC Irvine and Pacific to end their season-long homestand. CSUN then opens the month of November with four out of five on the road.

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