Emin Avakian

For what’s it worth, Northridge women’s volleyball team played a good match. But given the circumstances, they needed to play great.

The Matadors went into the Walter Pyramid to take on Long Beach State, who hadn’t played a match since Sept. 27 and hadn’t had a home game dating back to the week before that. They were ready, and so were their fans.

The 49ers gave their fandom what they wanted, what they expected to see: a sweep over the Matadors by scores of 25-18, 25-21, and 25-21. The victory is the sixth straight for Long Beach in its series history against Northridge.

The loss is the 10th straight for the Matadors dating back to Sept. 13.

‘We played well 80 percent of the time,’ said Northridge Head Coach Jeff Stork, who decided to look at the positives. ‘We stayed with a good team for a majority of the match.’ Blocking played a key factor in the first set between the two Big West Conference squads. Long Beach State (12-3, 2-1 Big West) had seven team-blocks, while Northridge mustered two.

The Matadors (5-13, 0-5) kept it close in the opening set as neither team could hold a comfortable lead for the majority of the match. The set saw the scored tied in 13 opportunities.

‘Our execution isn’t where I wanted it to be,’ said 49ers Head Coach Brian Gimmillaro, talking about his team’s flaws for the night. ‘But our passing was very good, and we blocked well.’

After trading points for the first 16 points of the set, Northridge scored two consecutive points to take a 10-8 lead and held it until Long Beach State took it back at 14-13. The 49ers increased the lead to three at 17-14, prompting a Northridge timeout.

The Matadors came back to score three straight, but that’s where the light of hope begin to flicker. With the score tied at 17, the 49ers scored seven consecutive points and eight of nine to take the set.

The teams were again tied at 17 in the second set. And again, Long Beach State took the lead. The difference, though, was that this time the Matadors didn’t let the set go so easy. Northridge pulled within one three times down the stretch (the last time was 21-20) before Long Beach had a 4-1 run to close it out and take the 2-0 set lead.

The Matadors started the third set sluggish, committing too many errors, which led to them falling behind 5-1. After talking it over during a timeout, they went on a 5-0 run to take an 8-6 lead.

And similar to the previous two, the 49ers dominated the latter parts of the set, scoring seven of the final 10 points to put Northridge away with a sweep.

‘We made inopportune mistakes,’ Stork said. ‘But we did a better job of hitting the ball in better places.’ The 49ers, in contrast, did a good job of getting in the right spots for digging. As a team, Long Beach State had 51 digs, 14 coming from senior defensive specialist Iris Murray, 10 from senior setter Nicole Vargas, while Ashley Lee and Lauren Minkel had nine apiece.

‘I think Ashley (Lee) did a very good job,’ Gimmillaro said of his sophomore outside hitter.

The solid 49er defense resulted in Northridge scoring on 33 kills and 26 errors for a hitting percentage of .059.

Angela Hupp led the Matadors with nine kills while hitting .227 to go with 10 digs for her second consecutive double-double and fifth this season.

‘The season is what it is,’ said Stork, whose team will once again try to snap the losing streak Saturday at home against Cal State Fullerton.