The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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CSUN opens Big West play undefeated

The CSUN Matador women’s volleyball team successfully defended its home court last weekend, as the Matadors swept the UC Riverside Highlanders by scores of 30-21, 30-27 and 30-14 on Sept. 21, then followed that effort with a four-game win over previously 12-1 Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, Sept. 23.

“It was a good win for us,” head coach Jeff Stork said. “We knew Fullerton was going to be a tougher team than Riverside, and they showed that tonight.”

Against Fullerton, outside hitter Harmony Burdine had a team-high 18 kills, outside hitter Siara Grayson had 16 and middle blocker Darla Donaldson had 11. Setter Angela Hupp had 33 assists and Kayla Wright had 16.

Against the Titans, the Matadors recovered from a hotly contested game one loss to win the final three games, pulling away from the Titans midway through each of the last three games with long, lengthy scoring streaks that turned slim leads into sizable advantages.

In game one, neither team held more than a one-point lead. Fullerton then won three points in a row to take a 10-7 lead. The lead stayed at three, then CSUN went on its own three-point run to tie the game at 14. The Titans got the lead back on a Matador service error and kept it for a while. Then, with Fullerton leading 18-17, Grayson sent a spike toward the right side of Fullerton territory that found an opening, then Deven Bukoski attempted to sneak a tipped ball past CSUN’s defense, but instead went out of bounds, which gave CSUN a 19-18 lead.

Fullerton tied the game on a Brittany Moore block, but Grayson went off two Titan blockers for a kill, and libero Amy Hultner got a service ace to give the Matadors a 21-19 lead. However, it was CSUN’s last lead of game one, as Fullerton won the next four points to take a 23-21 lead, forcing a CSUN time out. The Titans fed off their four-point run to win the first game 30-26.

“There were a few things we knew we did wrong,” Donaldson said. “So knowing what we did wrong, and coming back the next game knowing what happened the last game, helped us so much more.”

CSUN came into game two ready. Following a brief 3-3 tie, the Matadors ran off three in a row to take a 6-3 lead. Fullerton got the lead down to 7-5, but a Titan two-hit violation, an ace serve by libero Kelley Hanson, and an attack error on Bukoski gave CSUN a 10-5 lead. Fullerton got a point on a Matador two-hit violation, but Grayson went off a Titan block for a kill, then pinned Danielle Hitzeman for another kill to give CSUN a 12-6 lead.

Fullerton responded with three in a row to cut the lead in half. The Matador lead stayed at around three points and reached as many as four, at 15-11. CSUN, though, responded with three in a row to force a Titan time out, which couldn’t slow the Matadors down, as they again won the next three points to take a 21-11 lead. Fullerton’s Hitzeman stopped the run, but the Matadors won six of the next eight sets to take a 28-14 lead. Fullerton didn’t go quietly, winning the next four sets and a fifth following a CSUN time out, but the Titans went long on the next serve and a setting error by Geissert ended the match at 30-19.

“Right after the first game, I think we figured them out real well, then after the second game, we went over some of their plays and figured them out really well,” Burdine said.

Game three again started out close. CSUN had an early 5-3 lead, but Fullerton won the next four sets to lead 6-5. The Matadors responded with three in a row to lead 8-6, but Fullerton tied the game with two in a row, then CSUN again won the next three points to lead 11-8. The Titans again answered the call, but this time with four in a row to take a 12-11 lead.

Fullerton traded points to maintain its lead at 14-13, but the Matadors again caught fire, as they won the next five points to take an 18-14 lead, forcing a Fullerton time out. The Matadors then scored three in a row to lead 21-14 and kept its lead at seven, the last at 26-19, which forced another Fullerton time out. The Titans, though, just like in game two, made a late run, winning the next three points to get within four, forcing a Matador time out. Grayson stopped the Titan run by sneaking a tipped ball onto Fullerton territory. Then, following a Matador attack error, Hupp went off a Titan block for a point, then a Fullerton attack error put CSUN at game point, but the Titans again refused to go down without a fight, winning the next three points to force a Matador time out. Fullerton won two more points before Burdine put an end to game three with a kill to the left side of Titan territory.

Game four was no different from the last two games, as both teams kept the game close early, then a six-point Matador run turned a slim 13-12 lead into a sizable 19-12 advantage. CSUN’s lead peaked at eight, at 22-14 until Fullerton won the next three points, cutting the lead to five and forcing a Matador time out. Fullerton got two more, but CSUN kicked it back into first gear, winning the next seven points to set up match point, but Fullerton again made a desperation run, winning the next four sets and forcing another Matador time out. Grayson’s attack went out of bounds, but Grayson redeemed herself with a spike that found an opening on the Titans’ court to seal the win for CSUN.

“Game one, it’s not that we didn’t play well, they played extremely well,” Stork said. “Then we started getting into their tendencies and were able to diminish their passing and our scoring went way up.”

Five Matadors reached double-digits in kills, with Hanson leading the way with 20, Hultner with 16, Burdine and Hupp each with 13 and Wright with 12. CSUN also got 14 service aces against the Titans.

CSUN was also fueled by a boisterous home crowd wearing “Red Rally” T-Shirts that also displayed the Cal State Northridge fight song on the back. The fans did more than make their voices heard, cheering loudly every time the Matadors won a set, turning the Matadome into a threshold of pain for Fullerton.

“We had a lot of great support from the university,” Stork said. “It was extremely loud in the gym and the girls love playing in that type of environment. I think it’s great that the university is coming out to support us.”

“The support was great,” Wright said. “It was loud and it pumped us up and it gets us going.”

Donaldson also had her own personal fan club during the Fullerton match, as a group of fans loudly chanted her name as well as Hultner’s whenever the two made a key play and were substituted in and out.

“Just some friends,” Donaldson said.

Burdine, in addition to her 18 kills against Fullerton, also had a team-high 11 kills against UC Riverside. Her efforts in those two games earned her Big West Conference player of the week honors. Burdine became the first Matador to receive the honor since Jen Ryan received it the week of Nov. 22, 2004.

CSUN is 8-4 overall and in first place with a 2-0 in the Big West Conference. The Matadors next head north to Stockton for a match against the Pacific Tigers at the Alex G. Spanos Center scheduled for Sept. 30.

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