Women’s Volleyball struggles, but keeps pace with a win at Denver Invitational

Andrew Martinez

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The Matadors ended the tournament with a win against the host Denver Pioneers after losses to UCLA and Creighton. Photo credit: file photo

The Matadors ended the tournament with a win against the host Denver Pioneers after losses to UCLA and Creighton. Photo credit: file photo

The Matadors (7-2) left the Denver Invitational tournament with a win after suffering their first loss of the season against ranked opponents this past weekend.

The Matadors closed out the tournament with a victory against the host Denver Pioneers (5-5) on Saturday in four sets, 25-18, 21-25, 28-26, 25-23.  After trading the first two sets, the Matadors came from behind late to win the third set and pulled away from the Pioneers in a close fourth set with consecutive kills by senior setter Sydney Gedryn and senior outside hitter Mahina Haina to win the match.

Junior opposite hitter Natalie Allen led the way for the Matadors with a double-double of a team high 13 kills to go along with 12 digs.  Haina, junior middle blocker Casey Hinger and sophomore middle blocker Cieana Stinson all recorded ten kills apiece, while Gedryn recorded 46 assists to go along with her eight kills and eight digs.

On Friday, the Matadors faced 11th ranked UCLA (8-1), who they have never defeated in 15 tries.  The Matadors lost a tough match in five sets, 27-25, 25-23, 20-25, 22-25, 15-12. Although UCLA took the first two sets, the Matadors rallied to win the next two to force a fifth set.  In the fifth set, the Bruins pulled away from an 11-11 tie, winning four of the next five points to win the match.

Allen, Haina, Stinson and junior middle blocker Sam Kaul all finished with double-digit kills, and Hinger recorded nine kills to go along with her team-high four blocks. Gedryn added a double-double with 52 assists and 10 digs.

Coach Jeff Stork thought his team fought hard, but said a couple of missed plays made the difference.

“It’s disappointing, some of the basic plays we need to execute better but in the end we need to be good enough when it matters,” he said in a postgame interview with www.gomatadors.com.

Only a few hours earlier, the Matadors suffered their first loss of the season when they fell to the 24th ranked Creighton Bluejays (7-2) in three sets, 25-20, 25-17, 25-12.  The Bluejays were in control throughout the match, as they only trailed twice and never looked back after regaining the lead at 6-5 in the second set.

Allen and Stinson led the Matadors with 8 kills each, while Gedryn added 31 assists along with four digs and three blocks.  However, the Matadors only recorded 6 blocks, a season-low.

“I thought the girls pressed a little which may have affected the outcome,” said Stork in a postgame interview with www.gomatadors.com. “But we simply got beat today.”

The Matadors hope to rekindle their hot start when they have their home opener on Tuesday against Seattle. The Matadors started the season strong with six consecutive wins, sweeping the Bulldog

Invitational Tournament at Fresno State and the Fiesta Bowl Tournament at Northern Arizona. Their current record of 7-2 is their best through nine matches since 2000.

Following Tuesday’s match, the Matadors will travel to Washington, where they will play Coppin State and 6th ranked Washington.