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Northridge Starts Again With a Loss


Tradition builds at Cal State Northridge, much to the chagrin of the Matador women's volleyball team.

For the fifth consecutive season, Northridge dropped its opener, this time to the University of San Diego, 15-6, 15-13, 13-15, 15-11, Wednesday night at the Matador Gymnasium.

Last season, Northridge regrouped after a three-game sweep by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to post a 27-8 record and earn its first invitation to the NCAA Division I championship tournament.

That knowledge was the only silver lining in an otherwise cloudy experience against the Toreros.

"Actually, this was better," said Ana Kristich, a Northridge middle blocker. "We were more aggressive."

More, perhaps, but not nearly enough to suit Coach John Price, who was making his debut as a women's coach after guiding the Northridge men's program the past eight years.

Price envisioned a Matador attack with subtitles right out of a Batman episode-- Bash! Boom! Bang! Zap!

Instead, he got thuds and whimpers.

"I thought we were going to play a lot more aggressive," Price said. "We were tentative, particularly when we were pressed."

Northridge's anemic .101 attacking percentage indicated that most of the sound effects were caused by San Diego blocks. The Toreros, with middle blockers Amy McMahon and Nikki Wallace, outstuffed the Matadors, 26-16, on the front line.

Aimee Stone, a transfer from Colorado State, led Northridge with 17 kills and displayed some spectacular hitting strength. She was also on the wrong end of several ferocious blocks.

"In spurts, we looked great," Price said. "In spurts, we looked like we didn't practice in two weeks."

Kristich, who had 242 kills last season, had 12 and a .130 attacking percentage. Several times, she seemed braced to soar for a spike and instead had to settle for tipping the ball over flat-footed.

The timing just wasn't there.

San Diego, which finished 17-14 last season, played far more steadily. The Toreros were led by Wallace, a former Antelope Valley College player, who had 14 kills and seven blocks. Torril Purvis added 12 kills.

"We did some things well," Price said. "We're very young. I still have high expectations."

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