In their home opener Tuesday, the Matadors (8-2) took care of business and defeated the Seattle Redhawks (2-11) in three sets, 25-23, 25-18, 25-18.
The Matadors were led by strong performances by senior outside hitter Mahina Haina, junior middle blocker Casey Hinger and sophomore middle blocker Cieana Stinson, whose 34 combined kills exceeded the entire Seattle squad. Haina and Hinger notched 12 and 11 kills respectively, while Stinson had a match-high 13 kills.
“I think we did really well offensively,” said junior opposite hitter Natalie Allen. “We had a high hitting percentage in the end, and we put a lot of balls away. We played well as a group.”
Allen, who guided the Matadors to their hot start earlier this season with two tournament MVP awards, had a relatively quiet night but had a team-high nine digs along with five kills.
Although the Matadors dominated the stat sheet, they struggled to close out Seattle at times. The first set proved to be the toughest, as there were 12 ties and six lead changes.
Seattle took an early 7-4 lead, but CSUN went on a scoring streak punctuated by a Hinger kill to give them to 9-7 lead. However, the Redhawks battled and continued to keep the score close, finding themselves ahead 15-14.
The Matadors bounced back and eventually led 24-21 following Hinger’s sixth kill of the set. Seattle did not go down easily, as defensive specialist Lani Beadle made an acrobatic dig to keep the Redhawks in a lengthy rally and eventually force an error to pull within a point.
On the next point, Seattle was caught off guard when they prematurely celebrated a point and were defeated by a Stinson kill to win the match 25-23.
“The first set we made a lot of serving errors, but we pulled it out in the end and that’s all that matters,” Allen said.
The Matadors had five service errors along with five attack errors in the set.
Haina felt that nerves on the home opener were the reason for the tense first set.
“We were probably getting out our jitters, being our first game and all,” she said.
The Matadors never trailed after the first set, and they cruised through the second set, leading by as much as 11 points. The Redhawks eventually pulled within six points , but Stinson again closed out the set with a kill, winning 25-18.
The third set saw the Matadors jump out to another early lead, but the Redhawks rallied and pulled within three points at 14-11. The Matadors slowly pulled away, and finally shut down the
Redhawks as Haina had the last three kills for CSUN to complete the sweep, winning the match 25-18.
Despite early struggles, head coach Jeff Stork believed the team performed well under the circumstances.
“I thought they played hard and passionate in front of what could have been a distraction for them in the sense of being a home match, more family and friends come, and the potential of being distracted can be there at the first home match but they handled that very well,” he said.
The Matadors head north this weekend to face Coppin State and third-ranked Washington, a match up the team looks forward to.
“(Washington) plays cleanly. It’s a system we understand though and I think the matchups will be good for us because we know that system well,” Stork said.
Northridge returns home Sept. 28 to play UC Davis.