Northridge, Calif. - Beginning their four-match road trip, the Pacific women's volleyball team suffered a tough, 3-2, loss at Cal State Northridge on Thursday, October 18. The loss was the second-straight loss for the Tigers as Pacific fell to 16-5 on the year and 4-4 in the Big West while the Matadors leap-frogged Pacific in the standings by improving to 5-4 in conference play and 14-7 overall.
Set scores for the match were: 25-23, 25-19, 18-25, 21-25, 15-11
For just the second time in seven matches, the Tigers could not come up with magic in a five-set match as Pacific's efforts in the fifth and decisive set came up just short. After fighting back from two sets down to force the final set, the Tigers stumbled down the home stretch of their comeback, a stumble the Matadors took full advantage of to take the match. Up 9-8, the Tigers misplayed a free ball by the Matadors that could have put Pacific up two, but instead kicked off a 5-0 run that turned the set and the match for CSUN.
Prior to the fifth set, the Tigers had stormed back to win sets three and four as Pacific used a mix of solid defense and offense from the middle to claw their way into the match. Led by sophomore Gillian Howard, the Tigers dominated the net in set three defensively as Pacific put up five blocks, four from Howard, and forced the Matadors into -.061 hitting. In set four, the Tigers took control offensively as Pacific hit .326 with Howard, along with junior Jennifer Sanders, posting 10 of the Tigers 19 kills.
With the Tigers controlling the middle two sets, the Matadors used the first two sets to put Pacific into a big hole as CSUN stole the opening set behind a late 11-5 run. The Matadors would continue the momentum of the late run into the second set as a back-and-forth start turned into a run-away win as a 5-1 run in the middle of the game put Pacific away.
Overall, the Tigers were led by junior Megan Birch with a match-high 16 kills on 47 swings. Howard finished her night with 11 kills on .304 hitting while adding six blocks while freshman Kat Schulz posted 10 kills on 39 swings. Schulz picked up her fourth-straight double-double as she added 12 digs while also posting three blocks. Sanders ended with seven blocks to go along with eight kills while senior captain Gabby Cowden grabbed with kills, one ace and one dig. In her first career start, junior Emily Reber posted a career-high 11 digs.
The Matadors saw four players reach double-figures as Brittany Graff tallied a team-high 13 kills on 40 swings while Casey Hinger and Mahina Haina each tallied 12 kills and Ciena Stinson posted 10. Hinger added a match-high nine blocks as the Matadors out-blocked Pacific 16-to-13. Leading the way overall was the Matadors' setter, Sydney Gedryn who posted nine kills, 42 assists, 10 digs and seven blocks. Libero Cindy Ortiz finished her night with a match-high 32 digs.
The Tigers will look to get back on track as Pacific heads to Hawai'i on Saturday, October 20. The two teams will meet at 7:00 pm (HST) / 10:00 pm (PST).