Women’s Volleyball: Matadors prepare to face last season’s Big West champions

Andrew Clark

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Daily Sundial / File Photo

CSUN (11-4, 2-1) comes into this Big West contest against the 49ers (7-6, 2-0) on a two-game win streak after consecutive victories on the road against Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside. It took two Matador comebacks to go above .500 in conference after opening with a loss against Hawai’i.

Northridge returns home to face last season’s Big West champion Long Beach on Thursday night. The Beach has been revamped and is undefeated in conference play but has only faced two winless teams thus far.

Junior outside hitters Britney Graff and Mahina Haina lead the Matadors with 157 and 155 kills, respectively.  Sophomore middle blocker Casey Hinger has 120.

Senior libero Cindy Ortiz leads the Matador defense with 264 digs while senior defensive specialist Monica McFarland has 130 and junior setter Sydney Gedryn has 129.

An early key to the season has been contributions from the entire team.  The Matadors have battled through injuries to junior hitter Natalie Allen and, for a time, Hinger.  The injuries have allowed players like Graff and the young middle blocker tandem of Sam Kaul and Cieana Stinson to make additions.

.As for the 49ers, the weekend marks a significant road trip for their season.  They come to Northridge on Thursday then fly out to Hawaii to face the No. 8 Wahine.

Long Beach State is led by senior outside hitter Janisa Johnson with 136 kills and junior outside hitter Delainey Aigner-Swesey with 133 kills.  Sophomore middle blocker Alma Serna was named the Big West Player of the Week on Monday.

Women’s Volleyball v. UC Irvine Saturday at 7 p.m.

Part two of the weekend homestand has the Matadors host the UC Irvine Anteaters on Saturday night.

The Anteaters have done well in early Big West conference play, defeating UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly by a combined score of 6-1.  Previously, Irvine was 5-8, including an 0-4 record away from home.

The Matadors will have to contend with junior outside hitter Aly Squires, who leads Irvine with 214 kills and 144 digs.  Redshirt freshman Marisa Bubica has 160 kills for the Anteaters.