Struggles continue for Matadors

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The struggles of the CSUN Matador women’s volleyball team continued as the team was swept by the UC Irvine Anteaters by scores of 30-24, 30-28 and 30-28 at the Matadome on Tuesday night.

The Matadors were led by freshmen Harmony Burdine’s 12 kills and 10 digs and Kelley Hanson’s 13 digs, but UC Irvine got a big game from Trisha White, who had 18 kills. Jennifer Moser had 11 digs and Devon Sutherland had 10 digs. Irvine also ended up with a .252 hitting percentage compared to CSUN’s .147. The Matadors fell to 4-16, 2-7 in the Big West Conference, while Irvine improves to 8-13, 2-5 in conference play.

“I think there is a lot of areas we can improve on,” head coach Jeff Stork said. “There (are) some things I thought we did very well. I thought we passed fairly well (and) made adjustments with a pretty complicated offense from Irvine.”

In game one, CSUN jumped out to a 14-9 lead before UC Irvine cut the deficit to 14-12. CSUN then extended the lead to 19-13, but Irvine came alive and ran off six consecutive points to tie the score at 19-19. Burdine answered with a kill, wrestling the lead back for the Matadors, but Irvine continued to stay hot as Anteater Amanda Vasquez smashed a kill to even the score again. Then a Kristen Kelley kill put Irvine in the lead for the first time, a lead the Anteaters would not give up, as they took the first set. Regardless of the first game loss, the Matadors still played well as a team.

“I thought we did a lot of things good,” freshman setter Kayla Wright said.

In game two, it was Irvine that got off to a quick start. Vasquez put the first point on the board, and two kills by White gave the Anteaters a 3-0 lead. The lead grew to as many as six points until CSUN rallied and closed the deficit to 14-12. CSUN trailed 15-13 until a kill by junior Hilary Brinkman set the stage for Hanson, who served up four straight aces to vault CSUN to a 17-15 lead.

Irvine eventually tied CSUN at 18-18, but kills by Brinkman and freshman Darla Donaldson put CSUN back on top 20-18. Vasquez and Cassidy Caprista tied the game at 20-20, but Donaldson put CSUN back in front with another kill.

Two kills by Burdine and several more Irvine mistakes extended the Matador lead to 27-22 and CSUN looked to be in control until Irvine went on a 7-0 run to take a 29-27 lead. Anteater White slammed the door on CSUN’s game two hopes as Irvine won the second set 30-28.

“We picked it up a little, but we still didn’t play as well as we could have,” Hanson said.

Irvine quickly took control in game three, jumping out to a 16-11 lead, but CSUN slowly chipped away. Two kills from Jenn Probert, the first coming off a block, closed the deficit to 22-20. CSUN finally caught Irvine at 25-25 on a Burdine kill, but Irvine would again go ahead. Burdine managed to tie the game once more at 27-27 on an ace, but Irvine scored three of the last four points, winning the game and the match.

“Overall, I think this is a real good team, but we’re just falling short by one or two points and typically it has to do with one rotation here and there,” Stork said. “It’s a young team that’s got to go through some growing pains and I wish it would be a little faster.”

CSUN closes out its four-game homestand against Pacific on Oct. 29. Pacific is currently in fourth place in conference standings with a record of 12-9 overall and 5-3 in Big West play. Pacific played a non-conference match against Eastern Washington University on Tuesday and won in four sets by scores of 27-30, 35-33, 30-25 and 30-28.

Ashley Groothius had 24 kills against the Eagles and owns a team-leading 371 kills on the season. Sidney Bennett has 219 kills, Kara Uhl has 216 and and Susan Drollinger has 119. Allison Ianni has 903 assists on the year and Pacific is hitting .209 as a team.

“Beating Pacific would definitely boost our confidence,” said Burdine. “I think we can actually do it because we practice hard.”

Ivan Yeo can be reached at ivan.yeo.80@csun.edu.