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THE COLLEGES : Maturing CSUN Opens Conference Schedule

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

The new month brings with it a new focus for the Cal State Northridge women’s volleyball team.

September was Lady Matadors Maturing Month, when the team fused three new starters into the starting lineup by playing 25 matches in 30 days.

October signals Conference Calling Month. The Lady Matadors, after competing in the North Dakota State tournament this weekend, begin California Collegiate Athletic Assn. play Tuesday night at home against Cal State Los Angeles.

“I’m very happy with our September,” Coach Walt Ker said. “I think what we’ve learned from the tournaments and matches we’ve been able to bring back to practice. We used September very well. We’ve been very efficient.”

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If recent history holds, CSUN also will have an efficient October. The Lady Matadors have won 42 consecutive CCAA matches and 5 consecutive CCAA titles. CSUN also has won 38 consecutive CCAA home matches, all school records.

“The streak is not really that important,” Ker said, referring to the CCAA consecutive match skein. “Our streak is more important to the media than it is to the team.”

The streak might move from the papers to the history books by the end of the season. CSUN, the fourth-ranked team in Division II, struggled through an 9-7 September. And three other CCAA teams are in the Division II Top 20.

Quite a contrast from last season. CSUN was the lone CCAA representative in the Top 20 for most of the season and won seven of 12 conference matches in three-games sweeps.

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The Lady Matadors were never extended to five games in a CCAA match last season.

UC Riverside, with five returning starters, poses the most serious threat. The Highlanders, ranked fifth in the nation, beat CSUN for the Division II national championship in 1986.

Cal Poly Pomona, ranked 10th, Chapman College and Cal State Bakersfield, which handed CSUN its last CCAA loss in 1984, also could stop CSUN’s streak.

“Last year was very atypical for the CCAA,” Ker said. “We’re going to have to play extremely well if we’re going to beat them this season.”

The CSUN coach sees Los Angeles more as a challenge than a conference tuneup: “Our feet are already really wet,” Ker said. “We better be ready to play in a single match now.”


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