Halfway into a four-match road schedule, the CSUN women’s volleyball team has had mixed results, losing a conference match to UC Irvine (30-23, 22-30, 31-29, 30-22) on Nov. 2 and sweeping UC Davis (30-22, 30-25, 30-19) on Nov. 4.
Despite losing to UC Irvine at Crawford Court on Nov. 2, CSUN had several players with standout performances in the match. Middle blocker Darla Donaldson led the Matadors with 15 kills and a .448 hitting percentage. Outside hitter Harmony Burdine had a double-double with 11 kills and a team-high 15 digs. Setter Angela Hupp had a triple-double with 27 assists, 14 digs, and 10 kills. All this, however, was not enough to beat the Anteaters.
UC Irvine had plenty of momentum coming into the match after pulling off a huge upset against Cal Poly on Oct. 28, handing them their first conference loss of the season. Following that win, outside hitter Lauren Kellerman was named Big West Player of the Week and also earned national honors as the CVU.com National Player of the Week.
Kellerman led the Anteaters with 20 kills and 12 digs for a double-double. Outside hitter McCall Miller also had a double-double with 19 kills and 15 digs. Setter Taryn Robertson contributed 57 assists.
Overall, CSUN hit .218 to Irvine’s .237. The Matadors had 22 errors, compared to Irvine’s 24, and CSUN had 13 team blocks to Irvine’s seven.
“They played better when it mattered,” said head coach Jeff Stork. “If you look at the hitting percentages, the team that hit better won. The state of the game now with rally scoring is that one point matters. We had several rotations where it was sub-par for us and they scored a majority of their points. It’s (a) good team trying to be great and we have to eliminate those to be great.”
In the first game, both teams traded points until kills by White and middle blocker Chelsea Ellis helped the Anteaters develop a lead of 10-7. Irvine continued to pull away until Burdine mounted a Matador attack with two kills, bringing the score to 18-16. CSUN errors combined with Irvine’s offensive attack, put the Anteaters up 22-16. The Matadors were unable to overcome the deficit, losing the game 30-23.
In the second game, the Matadors pulled ahead by five at 7-2 before Irvine was able to start a comeback. CSUN had four straight errors that helped Irvine tie the score at 11-11. However, Irvine also committed a couple of errors helping the Matadors retake the lead. This proved to be enough, as the Matadors won the match 30-22.
CSUN again pulled ahead early in game three, and led 15-10 before Irvine made a move. Kills by Robertson, Kellerman, and White helped to tie the game at 15-15. The Matadors led the game until a couple of kills by Miller put Irvine up 26-25. A kill by Kellerman would seal the win at 31-29.
It was Irvine that got the early lead in game four and the Matadors would come to within one point at 20-19. But the Anteaters held on and won the game 30-22.
“I thought we played very well. We weren’t able to capitalize on their mistakes and we weren’t steady enough to overcome some of ours,” Stork said.
The Matadors were able to shake off the loss and move on to sweep the UC Davis Aggies on Nov. 4 at the Pavilion. Donaldson again led the Matadors in kills with 10, while hitting at .381. Outside hitter Siara Grayson was back on the court and had nine kills, hitting at .389. Kayla Wright had a team-high 20 assists and Hupp had 15.
The Matadors hit .256 as a team and had six team blocks compared with a .067 hitting percentage and seven team blocks by UC Davis. CSUN committed 15 errors to the Aggies’ 25.
For UC Davis, Nicole Read led the team with 10 kills. Katelyn Astruc had a match-high 29 assists and middle blocker Kelly Patterson had a match-high three service aces.
The first game started out close until a kill by Kepler and two Aggie errors put CSUN up 5-8. A kill by Probert, combined with a rash of Aggie errors, helped widen CSUN’s lead to 7-13. The Matadors stretched the lead further with kills by Brinkman, Donaldson and Wright. Later, Davis managed to get within four points at 17-21, but the Matadors pulled away again and finally took the match 30-22.
UC Davis took an early 3-0 lead in the second game. Kills by Donaldson and Kepler kept the Matadors close and a kill by Grayson tied the game at 10-10. On the next play, Donaldson knocked down a kill that put the Matadors up 10-11. The Matadors continued to pull away. The Aggies came back to within one point at 23-24, but four errors and kills by Grayson and Hupp sealed the win at 25-30.
CSUN took an early 4-1 lead in game three. After a timeout by UC Davis, the Aggies came back with a couple of kills to tie the score at 8-8. The two teams traded points until a service error by the Aggies put CSUN on a seven-point run, bringing the score to 11-18. Donaldson served an ace at 14-21 and CSUN was again on the attack with a couple of kills and another service ace from bringing the score to 15-24. Grayson knocked down a kill to end the game at 19-30.
Stork said that the team had two very good point-scoring sets against Davis, adding that they were in control 99 percent of the time. He commented on Siara Grayson’s return, following an injury that has kept her sidelined recently. Stork said that she is “feeling better and better” and that “she had a very good night, hitting almost 38 percent.”
The Matadors are now 15-8 overall and 6-4 in Big West play.
“We gotta come ready to play for the last four matches of our conference. We have the upper half of the conference the next four matches,” Stork said.
The Matadors conclude their four-match road trip this week, playing against No. 19 Cal Poly on Nov. 10 and at UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 11. Both matches start at 7 p.m.