Women’s Volleyball: CSUN falls to Hawai’i in fifth frame

Andrew Clark

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After four sets of seesaw volleyball, it all came down to inches.  CSUN junior setter Sydney Gedryn tried to surprise the Hawai’i defenders and dump the ball over the net in order to even the game at 18 in the deciding fifth set.

The ball sailed over the net but dropped just outside the sideline, giving the No. 7 Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine a nail-biting win over the Matadors in five sets.  Hawai’i outside hitter Jane Croson had a game-high 18 kills and 11 digs.

Freshman Iibero Allia Casino gets ready to serve in CSUN’s first conference matchup. Photo by: Jeffrey Zide

“I think we were playing really well over the course of the night, there was flip-flopping between the scores, but overall, our girls played really hard,” said head coach Jeff Stork.  “It’s a disappointment to us all, but I thought they played their hearts out.”

Sophomore middle blocker Casey Hinger led the Matadors with 14 kills and four blocks.  Despite the narrow loss, Hinger and the team are holding their heads high.

“They put us third in the conference and personally, I think we’re better than that,” Hinger said.  “We gave people a glimpse of that tonight.”

Junior outside hitter Britney Graff had 13 kills, six digs, and a block while junior outside hitter Mahina Haina had ten kills and three digs.  The duo helped overcome the absence of junior opposite hitter Natalie Allen, who did not play due to injury.

“As a team, we played really strong, we just need to be a little more consistent and a little more refined with our playing,” Graff said.  “Hawai’i is a great team, they’ve always been a great team, so there’s a lot of positives we can take out of this match and shake it off and come back for this weekend.”

In the fourth set, with CSUN up 2-1 in sets, Hawai’i leapt to an 11-6 lead before the referee made a controversial call, calling netting on Hinger and Gedryn to keep the Hawai’i momentum.  The call caused the Matadome faithful to chant “Bullshit”.

“Bringing in Hawai’i, a top-ranked team within our conference, it’s nice that we had some support tonight,” Stork said of the home crowd.

So it all came down to the deciding fifth set.

“You rely on the training that got you there,” Stork said.  “Certainly we earned the right to be there, this is where athletes and competitors want to be. They want to be in tough situations, that’s the message that I sent.”

Early miscues put CSUN in the hole 3-0 before Stinson leveled the ball through the Wahine defense to make it 6-5 Hawai’i. Graff and Kaul tie the game at 6 with a stuffing of a Wahine outside hitter, electrifying the Matadome crowd.

“The adrenaline’s just going, everyone’s cheering and yelling, and the crowd’s going, honestly we’re just yelling encouraging things to each other,” Hinger said.

Coach Stork implored his players to move on after the loss.

“That’s what experienced players have to do,” Stork said.  “We’re in the conference, the sun will come up tomorrow, we do have to play a different opponent, this is not the entire season, and my hope is that at the end of November, we’re at the top of the conference.”

The Matadors next hit the road over the weekend with visits to Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside.