Dec. 10, 2008
2008 Northridge Women's Volleyball Photo Gallery
Although the final record was disappointing, Cal State Northridge women's volleyball in 2008 provided a glimpse of the future, both immediate and long-term.
The Matadors finished the season with a 9-21 overall record and tied for eighth in the Big West Conference at 3-13. Northridge graduated five seniors this season in libero Kelley Hanson, defensive specialist Amy Hultner, middle blocker Val Kepler, outside hitter Jenn Probert and setter Kayla Wright. All five had been four-year players in the program and were instrumental in the Matadors gaining a foothold in the Big West.
"These five seniors were unbelievable for this program," said head coach Jeff Stork. "They represented themselves well, they represented the program well and it's a real bright class academically."
In all, Hanson, Hultner, Kepler, Probert and Wright were named Big West All-Academic 12 times.
The 2008 season also saw the emergence of junior Angela Hupp as one of the top players in the conference. Hupp earned first team All-Big West honors for the first time after being named conference Freshman of the Year in 2006 and honorable mention All-Big West in 2007.
"I can't say enough good things about Angela," said Stork. "What we ask of her as a volleyball player is significant. She came is a setter/hitter but she's such a good volleyball player that the team needs her as a hitter. She plays very smart and carries a big load without making a lot of mistakes."
The core of the returning players also gained valuable experience in 2008. Sophomore outside hitters Siara Grayson
and Brittany Williams
and middle blocker Lynda Morales
came on towards the end of the season which bodes well for 2009. Williams earned Big West Co-Player of the Week after her 19-kill performance in the season-ending 3-2 upset win over No. 23 Long Beach State.
Freshman Sam Orlndini and junior Tela Burnett also performed well in their first season at Northridge. Orlandini became the fifth Matador in the last five years to be named among the conference's top freshman.
"Sam has some intangibles that I think you want in a setter," said Stork.
The Matadors opened the season with three wins in their first four matches (Boise State, Seattle University, Sacramento State) and could have been 4-0 if not for a season-opening loss to Washington State in five sets.
"We had a great couple of tournaments early in the season," said Stork. "I thought the tournament's went the way they should have but I think we could have picked up a couple more wins early on."
Northridge stood 5-3 after sweeping Montana on Sept. 12 in the ASU Sheraton Invitational and were poised to wrap up the non-conference season strong. What followed however was a 12-match skid that immediately sent the Matadors into survival mode. A three-set loss at Arizona State preceded a home-opening loss to fourth-ranked UCLA in which the Matadors played well.
"I thought we played pretty well against UCLA," said Stork. "Brittany had a super match against the Bruins."
Northridge wrapped up the tournament portion of the schedule in Malibu and dropped a heartbreaker in five sets to Texas State before falling to No. 21 Pepperdine in three.
"Texas State was the match that things started going south for us," said Stork. "I thought we should have won the match but we lost in five. It was real tough match and one of the things that happened was our inconsistency kind of reared its head. We'd be in control of the match and all of sudden a team would come back on us."
The Big West season opened with home losses to UC Santa Barbara and No. 25 Cal Poly. The match with the Gauchos was another five-set affair that didn't go Northridge's way.
"The Santa Barbara match was another disappointing five-set match for us," said Stork. "We were playing some pretty good volleyball so that was a little deflating. But Cal Poly was, for us, one of our best matches all year. We lost in four but Cal Poly is a real good team and we played them rock-solid."
After falling at home to Cal State Fullerton and UC Davis, the Matadors snapped the streak with a solid four-set win over Pacific.
The second half of the conference season opened with matches at Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara and home matches against UC Riverside and UC Irvine. Northridge dropped all four but the Matadors were determined to close the regular season strong.
A come-from-behind, five-set win on the road at Cal State Bakersfield and season-closing wins at UC Davis and at home over No. 23 Long Beach State wrapped up a 9-21 season for the Matadors.
"If I was to summarize the season I thought we trained hard all year and we played well a majority of the time. We played well early then we had the stretch when doubt crept in," said Stork.
Hupp, who earned All-Tournament honors at Boise State, Sacramento State and Arizona State, started all 30 matches for the Matadors in 2008 and led Northridge in kills (323), kills per set (2.86) and total attacks (897), was second in aces (21), digs (248) and blocks (86.0) and was third in assists (128). She already ranks in the Northridge career top-10 in assists.
Grayson finished second on the team in kills (261) while Williams was just behind at 259. Grayson also served a team-high 37 aces which is a personal career-high. Morales finished the season with 174 kills and a team-high 105 total blocks.
Orlandini started 24 of the 25 matches in which she appeared and led Northridge with 857 (9.74 a/s) which ranked sixth in the Big West. She also contributed 21 kills, 13 aces, 172 digs and 36.0 total blocks. Fellow freshmen Puneet Pataria and Monica McFarland look to make their presence felt in 2009.
Seniors Hanson, Hultner, Kepler and Wright all etched their names in the Northridge career record book. Hanson took over as the school's all-time leader in digs with 1,305 while Hultner is third with 1,228. Kepler took over as the leader in block assists with 405 and is second in total blocks with 445. Hultner also ranks fifth in career aces with 100 while Wright is tied for 11th with 92. Wright also is third all-time with 2,434.
- GO MATADORS -