W-Vball: CSUN doesn’t want unpleasant surprise, host uCR

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W-Vball: CSUN doesn’t want unpleasant surprise, host uCR

CSUN hosts UCR in a Big West match-up Saturday night. Photo Credit: Mariela Molina/ Visual Editor

CSUN hosts UCR in a Big West match-up Saturday night. Photo Credit: Mariela Molina/ Visual Editor

CSUN hosts UCR in a Big West match-up Saturday night. Photo Credit: Mariela Molina/ Visual Editor

CSUN hosts UCR in a Big West match-up Saturday night. Photo Credit: Mariela Molina/ Visual Editor

Alonso Tacanga

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CSUN hosts UCR in a Big West match-up Saturday night. Photo Credit: Mariela Molina/ Visual Editor

A virus has been going around Redwood Hall, and it’s made its way to CSUN head coach Jeff Stork.

The 10th-year coach was said to have some kind of flu and was unable to run practice Wednesday. There was a chance he’d miss today’s session also, a team source said.

“It’s different without him (in practice),” CSUN setter Sydney Gedryn said. “But we try not to think about it. It doesn’t bother me. We just want him to get healthy for the game.”

One might think the Matadors (9-10, 3-4 Big West) could actually afford having their coach skip the home game against the bottom-feeder of the Big West Conference Saturday, but the Highlanders are no ordinary last-place squad. UCR’s two conference wins have come against teams currently holding spots No. 1 and 2 in the league standings (Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara respectively).

The Highlanders (5-16, 2-5) went into Santa Barbara Saturday riding a three-game losing streak and got behind quickly, 2-0. It looked like it would be just another “L” in the 2011 record book before UCR mounted an improbable comeback and won, 3-2.

“They definitely are going to surprise people,” Gedryn said. “They’re a good team, but we’re going to defend our home court.”

The Matadors, whose coach will likely be present when UCR visits, is only 2-4 at the Matadome, but their last two outings there have been wins. The last one occurred Saturday when UC Irvine visited and CSUN throttled it, 3-0.

Speaking of non-complicated wins, the Matadors also stifled UCR the last time the teams met, 3-0 on Sept. 24 at Riverside.

“We know their tendencies already,” said CSUN outside hitter Mahina Haina of the Highlanders.

One of those tendencies is poor hitting. UCR is hitting .171 for the season. The Matadors aren’t doing much better at 1.72, but the difference lies in their defense. While CSUN allows about as much as it hits (.171), the Highlanders allow a Big West-worst .248.

UCR’s poor hitting hasn’t slowed down its outside hitters, however.  Amanda Vialpando is No. 2 in kills-per-set average in the conference at 3.96 while Shelby LeDuff, a mean left-handed hitter, averages 3.14.

“They’re looking to come take it from us just like we beat them at their house,” Gedryn said.

Coming off a confidence-building win and with a chip on their shoulder at an earlier loss to CSUN – not to mention they’re bringing their two offensive studs – the Highlanders are not to be taken lightly, Gedryn said.

“We can’t be overconfident for anything. Everybody’s beating everybody, crazy games, by a lot or by a little,” she said.

As if continuing to move up in the Big West standings wasn’t incentive enough for CSUN, the Matadors will be having Dig Pink Night against the Highlanders. The more digs the Matadors get, the more money they’ll raise to help research for a cure for cancer.

It all adds up as an opportunity for the Matadors to not only help themselves, but also help thousands of others.

“It’ll be a good win when we win,” Haina said.