Rebuilding season ends for women’s volleyball team

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The Matador women’s volleyball team made an attempt to finish the season strong, though the team fell short on both occasions.

The Matadors lost to UC Irvine in a three-game sweep 30-18, 30-23, 30-18 on Nov. 18. The Anteaters improved their season record to 10-18 overall and 3-10 in the Big West, leaving CSUN one more chance to end the season with a win. But the Matadors lost to Long Beach State in three games as well, 30-13, 30-21, 30-21.

With the victory, Long Beach State improved its record to 23-5 and 12-2 in conference play. With the 49ers defeat over the Matadors, they won their first conference title since 2001, giving the 49ers an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. CSUN closed its season with an overall record of 4-23 and 2-12 in the Best West Conference.

Despite freshman outside hitter Harmony Burdine’s 13 total kills combined in both matches, the Matadors did not succeed in their goal of closing out the season with a victory.

In the match against UC Irvine, Matador freshman outside hitter Kelly Hanson pounded 10 kills, while middle blocker Val Kepler supplied seven.

Freshman Kayla Wright and sophomore Gini Mendenhall both spent time at the setter position, as Wright recorded 15 assists and Mendenhall posted 13. Freshman middle blocker Jenn Probert had a team-high four blocks as CSUN suffered the seventh straight loss.

Freshman outside hitter Lauren Kellerman led a trio of Anteaters in double-figure kills with 16. Sophomore setter Christa Conom dished out 42 assists, while senior libero Jennifer Moser recorded a match-high 22 digs, as UC Irvine emerged victorious.

In the following match, against Long Beach State, CSUN’s Probert led the Matador attack, totaling nine kills, while Burdine added eight. Probert also contributed with seven digs and a pair of blocks.

For the second straight match, Gini Mendenhall and Kayla Wright split time at setter, as Mendenhall registered a team-high 17 assists and Wright had 11. Hanson, who led the team in kills in the match against UC Irvine, chipped in four kills, nine digs, and two aces, as the Matadors endured their season ending loss in three straight games.

For Long Beach, senior middle blocker Erika Chidester led the way with 12 kills, while sophomore middle blocker Alexis Crimes hit a perfect 10-10, a single-match record 1.000 hitting percentage. The 49ers hit .429 as a team as sophomore setter Dyanne Lawlor handed out 40 assists and had a team-best 10 digs.

The 49ers took game one, 30-13, hitting an amazing .478, compared to a negative .094 percentage for the Matadors. A quick attack by Lawlor made it 18-7, after The Beach rolled out to a 10-3 lead to open the match, forcing a CSUN timeout.

Long Beach scored 10 of the final 13 points, including three straight, to win game two 30-21. Their hitting percentage was .459, compared to a .139 for the Matadors. Northridge stayed within two for two thirds of the contest, pulling to within 13-11 and keeping this interesting until 20-18. A kill by junior opposite hitter Mariko Crum capped a 3-0 run to make it 23-18 after a Val Kepler kill closed the deficit to 13-11.

In the final match, the 49ers won 30-21, hitting a percentage of .368.

Although the Matadors suffered many tough losses this season, the majority of the team are freshmen, and will return next year more experienced.

Charles Keeranan can be reached at charles.keeranan.87@csun.edu.