The match’s first set went back and forth with the Titans retaining momentum from their five-set thrilling victory over another conference enemy in UC Davis on Friday night. Towards the end of the initial set, a possible tipped ball called by the head referee against Fullerton came under scrutiny by multiple CSUF players and Head Coach Carolyn Zimmerman.
After the disputed call, the Titans answered right back to increase their lead 21-17. Their success didn’t last long due to a four point rally from the Matadors to bring the score up even at 21 points for both teams. The coaches on both sides understood the importance of winning this intense first set of the match and a total of four timeouts were taken throughout the set.
The Titans momentum was not enough, as the Matadors stole the first set with a 25-23 win led by four different Northridge players, Casey Hinger, Natalie Allen, Mahina Haina and Sydney Gedryn all earning four kills in the set. Although the Titans started the set off with an early lead, it was the Matadors who finished off the first set with an 8-2 run to cap off the win.
The second set was a completely different story though, as the Titans lost all focus and intensity from the first set losing to the Matadors again, 25-10. Northridge dominated the second set with a .303 attacking percentage, 20 digs and a game-high five blocks. The Titans could only muster a match low .091 attacking percentage and zero blocks.
Following the second set, the Titans came back out of the break with much more tenacity than they had shown in the previous set. The two teams kept the score neck and neck, tying at 10 points and also at 16 in the final set. From there Northridge made a four point rally to bring the Matadors within five points of clinching the three set sweep. With no time to waste the Titans came back to within one point with a score of 23-22 resulting in a Northridge timeout.
As the Matadors were on the verge of victory in a 24-23 match point serve, coach Zimmerman substituted in Leah Stevens for setter Julie Consani. The substitution proved clutch as Stevens came into the game and threw down a game saving block to tie it up at 24 points apiece.
But the late game heroics were not enough as the Matadors took the final set 26-24 resulting in a three-game sweep of the Titans. CSUF were their own worst enemy in the match with 14 unforced errors in the first two sets, and 12 of those in the miserable second set.
”The third game we all came together and played with a lot of heart,” freshman outside hitter Faith Rockmore said.
Rockmore, who is a local player out of Fullerton Union High School, had a team high 11 kills throughout the match.`
“Our game plan was to limit our errors … we knew they were going to be a good blocking team,” Rockmore said.
Northridge led the game with a total of 12 blocks, Sam Kaul and Casey Hinger led the Matadors with four blocks each.
“We just gotta fight one point at a time, we can’t ever plan for four or five points ahead,” senior middle blocker Leah Best said.
Best had eight kills and four blocks for the Titans.
The Titans loss drops their overall season record to 8-7, with a conference record of 1-2. They look to win on the road next Saturday as they are set to play at UC Riverside who is 1-14 so far this season. The Highlanders are on a six game losing streak and are winless in Big West play.
Northridge won their fifth straight match against CSUF and increased their regular season record to 13-3. Their record is second best in the Big West Conference only behind the Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine who are 15-1 so far this season.
For more information on women’s volleyball and all Titan Athletics go to FullertonTitans.com.