Riding high after winning their first conference win of the season, the Northridge women’s volleyball squad faced off against the No. 1 team in the Big West, the Cal Poly Mustangs.
Earlier this season, the Mustangs defeated the Matadors (6-17, 1-9 Big West) in four sets at the Matadome. On Friday night at Mott Gym, the outcome turned out to be similar as Cal Poly won the match handily in straight sets by scores of 25-12, 25-18 and 25-15 and swept the season series.
Cal Poly (12-7, 7-1) surrendered the opening point to the Matadors before using consecutive aces from freshman outside hitter Caitlin Smith to build an 8-3 first-set advantage. An ace provided Cal Poly its first double-digit lead at 16-6 and the Matadors failed to close the Mustang advantage to fewer than a dozen points the remainder of the set. The Mustangs used a 10-2 run to overturn an early 4-2 Cal State Northridge lead during the second set. Cal Poly eventually increased its lead to 21-14 before the Matadors recorded four of the ensuing five points out of a timeout. The Mustangs, however, held Northridge without a point for the remainder of the set as consecutive aces punctuated the victory. Cal Poly stampeded to a 13-3 lead during set No. 3 and led by as many as eleven points in securing the program’s seventh-straight victory over Cal State Northridge.
The discrepancy in the service game was a key factor in the match. Cal Poly set a new season-high with 12 aces, while Northridge was held to zero.
Mustang Kylie Atherstone produced a match-high 12 kills and outside hitter Ali Waller recorded eight. Mustang junior setter Hailey Fithian tallied match highs for assists (26) and digs (12) in collecting her team-leading eighth double-double of the season.
Sophomore Dominique Olowolafe led Cal Poly with four total blocks.
No Matador hitter was able to post a hitting percentage higher than Hupp’s .158 as Northridge hit -.023 as a team.
The following day CSUN had a new opportunity as they traveled to Santa Barbara to take on the Gauchos. However, the weekend woes continued as the Gauchos posted 25-21, 25-12 and 25-22 set victories on their way to a sweep of the Matadors.
Senior outside hitter Lauren McLaughlin led UC Santa Barbara (9-11, 5-4) with 13 kills in the match. She committed just three errors on 36 attempts for a .278 clip. Junior outside hitter Rebecca Saraceno collected a double-double with 10 kills and 10 digs. Outside hitter Charlene DeHoog chipped in eight kills, 10 digs and three block assists.
For the Matadors, Tela Burnett led the way with nine kills and a .615 clip while also posting four block assists. Setter Samantha Orlandini had 12 assists and Kelley Hanson led the squad with 12 digs.
The Gauchos climbed out to an early lead in the first set and never relinquished it. The Matadors inched back within one point at 20-19 on a kill from Lynda Morales, but UC Santa Barbara owned five of the next seven points to earn the 25-21 victory.
The Gauchos had its best showing in set two as they out-hit the Matadors .333 to -.090. UCSB got off to a 7-1 lead and used a balanced attack with their 10 kills divided amongst five players to capture the 25-12 set victory.
Northridge jumped out to a 4-1 lead early in set three, but the Gauchos used a 5-0 run to take back the advantage. The Matadors nipped at the UCSB’s heels for much of the match, trailing by two points on five occasions, but they were never able to regain the lead. McLaughlin led the charge with five kills as the Gauchos posted the 25-22 set win and completed the sweep.
The Gauchos also swept the season series with the Matadors. Northridge dropped its conference opener to Santa Barbara in five sets.
The Matadors come back this weekend to play two of their remaining three home games. They’ll play UC Riverside Friday and UC Irvine Friday. Both the Highlanders and Anteaters have below-.500 records. After that, the Matadors will be on the road for four straight games.