W-Vball: CSUN trails UCSB by a game in standings, take them on at home

The+Matadors+need+to+win+their+last+two+Big+West+games+to+get+at+least+a+share+of+second+place+in+the+standings.+Photo+Credit%3A+Mariela+Molina%2F+Visual+Editor
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W-Vball: CSUN trails UCSB by a game in standings, take them on at home

The Matadors need to win their last two Big West games to get at least a share of second place in the standings. Photo Credit: Mariela Molina/ Visual Editor

The Matadors need to win their last two Big West games to get at least a share of second place in the standings. Photo Credit: Mariela Molina/ Visual Editor

The Matadors need to win their last two Big West games to get at least a share of second place in the standings. Photo Credit: Mariela Molina/ Visual Editor

The Matadors need to win their last two Big West games to get at least a share of second place in the standings. Photo Credit: Mariela Molina/ Visual Editor

Ron Rokhy

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The Matadors need to win their last two Big West games to get at least a share of second place in the standings. Photo Credit: Mariela Molina/ Visual Editor

The Matadors (14-12, 8-6 Big West) plan to keep their hopes of finishing in second place in the Big West Conference alive as they once again face the Gauchos (16-11, 9-5) Friday night at the Matadome.

The teams faced off on Nov. 9 with UC Santa Barbara coming up with the 3-0 victory and knocking CSUN a game back in the standings.

While Long Beach State (19-6, 13-2) has first place locked up, the Matadors could finish alone in second if they win their two remaining conference games and Santa Barbara loses both. If CSUN wins out, they’ll be assured at least a share of second place.

CSUN is having its best season since 2004 and head coach Jeff Stork said finishing in second place would be a milestone compared to where they’ve been the last several years.

“Getting second place in the Big West, which is the second best conference in the West coast, would be a huge accomplishment,” Stork said. “It says a lot about the way that this team has focused, remained committed and played during the season.”

Freshman middle blocker Casey Hinger said she would “kick their butts” next time when they faced Santa Barbara in last Wednesday’s postgame interview, and she’s ready to back up her statement.

“There’s a huge revenge factor here,” Hinger said. “They’re at Northridge, they’re in our house, and they’re going down. There’s no question about it.”

During their last meeting, UCSB’s rock-solid defense halted CSUN’s offensive efforts, allowing them to hit just .116 for the game. This time around, however, Northridge plans to enact their vengeance by throwing different looks at the Gaucho’s seemingly impenetrable defense.

“They’re a really scrappy defensive them, but they’re in for quite a surprise,” Hinger said. “We’re going to have to work hard to win those long rallies, but we’re definitely going to do it. We’ve been working on different things like knowing when to hit different areas and when to hit hard, they’re not used to that from us.”

“We’ve been scouting them all week so we know what they tend to do,”  sophomore setter Sydney Gedryn added. “We know where they block so now we know where to hit.”

The Matadors also struggled last game to hamper the UCSB offense as the Gauchos hit .311 percent and had three players (Stacey Schmidt, Leah Sully and Kara Sherrard) with 10 or more kills, and another (Lily Lopez) with eight.

To slow them down, CSUN plans to disrupt Santa Barbara’s offensive flow by serving better.

“It’s up for us to execute the game plan and stop them,”  Stork said. “We have to serve a little bit tougher and get them out of system.”

Gedryn added, “I’m going to block them. We’re going to make it so they can’t set up the people they want to set up.”

The Matadors, who are in the midst of a five game home winning streak, are confident that having the home court advantage will give them the edge they need to beat USCB.

“Home court is going to make a huge difference,” said Gedryn. “Having a crowd that supports you is always helpful. We know what our gym is like, so we won’t have to deal with anything new, it’ll be easier.”

After facing the Gauchos, the Matadors face their final Big West opponent Saturday night as they face Cal Poly (11-16, 6-8).