Women’s volleyball team succumbs to strength of Tigers

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The CSUN Matador women’s volleyball team came up short, falling in three games to the Pacific Tigers, by scores of 30-20, 30-25 and 30-27 on Oct. 29 at the Matadome.

Darla Donaldson’s 11 kills, Val Kepler’s eight kills, Kayla Wright’s 31 assists and Jamie Crawford’s 17 digs led CSUN.

Kara Uhl’s match-leading 17 kills and 10 digs led the Tigers. Ashley Groothius recorded 12 kills, Sidney Bennett had 10 and Julie Magud had 16 digs. CSUN fell to 4-18, 2-8 in Big West Conference play, while Pacific improved to 13-9, 6-3 in conference play.

“I think we played a lot better then we have been playing,” Kepler said. “We definitely improved our game today and it’s disappointing that we did not win.”

In the first game, after giving up a service ace to Uhl, the Matadors responded as Hilary Brinkman smashed a kill, to get CSUN on the board. Kepler blocked the ensuing Pacific possession and freshman Harmony Burdine capitalized notching a service ace that put the Matadors ahead 3-1.

The lead grew to 6-3 when Donaldson blocked a kill attempt by Johanna Hilbers, but Pacific came back, scoring five consecutive points to take an 8-6 lead.

CSUN kept within reach of Pacific, trailing 11-10 as Kepler and Burdine blocked a Groothius kill attempt, only to see Pacific run off the next six points and take a 16-10 lead.

The Matadors fought on, but Tiger’s lead grew too large to overcome, as Pacific went on to win the first set 30-20.

The second set was close the entire way through, as Kepler started things off with a kill that found an open spot in Pacific territory. But Uhl got Pacific going with a kill and a service ace. CSUN answered, taking a 6-4 lead sparked by a Donaldson and Wright block. Pacific, however, scored three in a row, taking a 7-6 lead on a Hilbers block.

Later, as both teams traded points, CSUN took a 15-14 lead on a Kepler and Burdine block. That turned out to be CSUN’s last lead of the night, as Pacific scored four straight points, taking an 18-15 lead.

Uhl then ran off four straight kills to extend the lead to 22-16. CSUN called timeout and scored three in a row, cutting the lead to 22-19.

The Matadors continued to make a run at Pacific, narrowing the margin to 24-23.

But Pacific refused to crumble, extending the lead to 27-23 and eventually holding on to win the second game 30-25.

“We tried hard, but we couldn’t come out on top,” Donaldson said.

The score was tied early in game three, at 6-6, until CSUN scored three in a row to take a 9-6 lead. But Pacific kept themselves within striking distance, cutting the lead to 9-8 on a Bennett kill. Both teams traded the next six points before kills by Groothius and Susan Drollinger tied the game at 12-12.

CSUN took the lead back when a Groothius serve went into the net, but another Uhl kill and an ace by Magud put Pacific in the lead 14-13.

CSUN again managed to tie the game, this time at 14-14.

After a Pacific timeout, CSUN jumped out to the lead on a Groothius kill that sailed wide. Burdine extended the lead to 22-20.

Pacific then led 29-25, but CSUN cut the lead to 29-27 on a block by Burdine and Donaldson, before Groothius provided the final margin of victory.

“Besides the first game, I thought we played real well,” head coach Jeff Stork said. “Defensively, we’re doing some real good things. I think offensively we’re still giving up a couple of points on a couple of rotations that we have to stop.”

CSUN heads back out on the road for two non-conference games, the first against future Big West Conference opponent UC Davis on Nov. 4, followed by an afternoon bout with Fresno State on Nov. 5.

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