The Cal State Northridge women’s volleyball team dropped to fourth place in the Big West Conference after losing matches to No. 16 Cal Poly (30-15, 30-20, 30-14) at Mott Gym in San Luis Obispo on Nov. 10 and UC Santa Barbara (27-30, 24-30, 30-15, 30-22, 15-11) at the Thunderdome on Nov. 11.
The Matadors are 15-10 overall and 6-6 in conference action. The Mustangs won the Big West Conference title with a 13-1 record in conference play and 21-5 overall. The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos are 16-11 overall and 8-6 in Big West matches.
In their match against Cal Poly, the Matadors generated 30 errors, contributing to a season-low hitting percentage of -.044. The Mustangs had only 15 errors, hitting at .314 and out-blocked CSUN 13.5-4. The Mustangs also served up eight aces while the Matadors had two.
Middle blocker Darla Donaldson led the Matadors in kills with six, followed by outside hitters Siara Grayson and Harmony Burdine, with five kills each. Setter Angela Hupp had 16 assists and Burdine had eight digs.
The Mustangs were led by outside hitter Kylie Atherstone with 12 kills and a .292 hitting percentage, followed by outside hitter Alicia Waller with 11 kills and a .154 hitting rate. Waller also served a match-high three aces.
Cal Poly took the early lead in the first game and at one point stretched that lead to 20-7. Although a kill by Burdine and a block by Kepler gave CSUN the next two points, the Mustangs recorded another point on a kill by Houston. Hupp and Donaldson added a couple of points with kills, but it was not enough to come back as kills by the Mustangs’ Houston, Waller and Bertoni sealed the win for Cal Poly at 30-15.
In game two, the Matadors started strong, with an ace by Burdine and kills by Grayson helping put CSUN ahead 7-6. Cal Poly came back quickly with a kill by Waller and two service aces by Houston, putting the Mustangs up 11-8. Kills by Grayson and Donaldson combined with the Mustangs’ errors kept the game within reach of the Matadors at 20-16. After a timeout by Cal Poly, however, kills by Atherstone and Waller helped to put the game away for the Mustangs, 30-20.
In the final game, Cal Poly jumped ahead early with a service ace by Waller and a couple of kills by Atherstone. Despite kills by Donaldson, Burdine and Kepler, CSUN trailed at 16-7 when they took a timeout. Cal Poly continued to run away with the game, winning 30-14 on a Waller kill.
CSUN was stronger against UC Santa Barbara, but lost the match after leading the Gauchos 2-0. The Matadors hit at .069 and had 15 team blocks against the Gauchos’ .122 hitting percentage and nine team blocks. Both teams posted a high number of errors with 42 for CSUN and 38 for UC Santa Barbara.
Donaldson again led the Matadors in kills with 12 and hit at .071. Grayson recorded 11 kills and hit at .122. Hupp had 10 kills and a team-high 26 assists. Kepler also had 10 kills and a .562 hitting percentage. Kelley Hanson served three aces. Burdine led the team in digs with a career-high 29, followed by Hultner, also posting a new career-high at 26 and Hanson with 25.
For the Gauchos, middle blocker Olivia Waldowski led the team with 20 kills and a .341 hitting percentage. Outside hitter Jamie Garbisch contributed 16 kills, followed by outside hitter Lauren McLaughlin with 14. Setter Stephanie Brandt had a match-high 59 assists and libero Emily Hendrickson led the match in digs with 37. Garbisch served up four aces.
CSUN won the first game 30-27, out hitting the Gauchos .127 to .093. Hanson’s two service aces helped to put the Matadors ahead early in the game before the Gauchos’ Garbisch stopped the CSUN run with a couple of kills. Both teams traded points throughout the game, but the Matadors would win on a Gaucho error.
Game two stayed close throughout, with 10 tied scores and five lead changes throughout the game. CSUN hit at .235 against the Gauchos’ .075, helping the Matadors to take the game at 30-24. Donaldson led the Matadors with five kills in game two.
Fueled by seniors Garbisch, Hendrickson and Waldowski, all playing in their last home game, the Gauchos fought back from the 2-0 game deficit and won the next three games.
In game three, the Matadors posted a -.040 hitting percentage against the Gauchos’ .227. UCSB was led by Waldowski’s six kills, helping to get the win at 30-15.
Game four started out close until the Gauchos jumped ahead after four kills by Quirarte. UCSB hit at .109 to CSUN’s .000 and took the game at 30-22 on a kill by Quirarte.
The Gauchos took the match by winning the fifth game 15-11. The Matadors’ hitting percentage in the final game was -.036 against UCSB’s .136.
The Matadors play their last two home games this week against Long Beach State on Nov. 16 and UC Irvine on Nov. 18. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. at the Matadome.