Big West women’s volleyball: CSUN coach Jeff Stork in favor of tournament at Hawaii

Hawaii setter Norene Iosia (10) and middle blocker Amber Igiede (3) went up to block Cal State Northridge outside hitter Seyvion Waggoner on Thursday night. / Photo by Jamm Aquino, Star-Advertiser

Cal State Northridge coach Jeff Stork wants to come back to Hawaii.

Even after his team got drummed out of the Stan Sheriff Center in a very quick 25-18, 25-12, 25-14 sweep on Thursday night.

Stork, CSUN’s 18th-year head coach, wants there to be a Big West postseason volleyball tournament to decide the assignment of the conference’s automatic NCAA tournament berth instead of the current setup of the regular-season champion getting the bid. Hawaii clinched its 27th straight NCAA appearance with Thursday night’s victory, earning a share of the Big West crown and the berth over Cal Poly by virtue of a tiebreaker with Friday’s senior night against Long Beach State still to play.

Stork offered a counterpoint to Cal Poly coach Caroline Walters, who expressed her anti-tournament posture after the Mustangs lost here in four sets on Nov. 3.

“I think this is a great place,” Stork said. “I’m always in favor of a conference tournament, and the conference tournament being here all the time. You know, I think that’d be a natural, but in the head coaches’ meeting, and at the … athletic directors level, I’m being overruled.

“I think it’s great for the conference to have a tournament. It certainly helps the middle teams. I mean, this group is great (motions at his players), but I’ve had teams in the past where halfway through the conference, they’re like, (makes a buzzer sound). It doesn’t matter anymore. And it’s hard to keep those players and have meaning to it. The conference tournament, I think, would do that for more teams in the conference.”

With Thursday’s loss, CSUN finished its season in the middle of the pack (12-16, 7-9 BWC). It’s been in the 5th-7th range for five straight years, so the tournament sentiment is understandable. The Matadors’ last NCAA appearance was in 2013, when they tied Hawaii for first at 13-3.

The Big West expands from nine to 11 teams next year. Word is that if the Big West goes to the tournament model, all 11 (even UC San Diego, which will be transitioning from Division II to Division I and isn’t immediately eligible for the NCAAs) will participate. It’s on the table for the 2020 season, per our beat writer Cindy Luis. UPDATE: Luis pointed out that six- and eight-team tournament models are also in consideration.

“You know, Hawaii, they probably never want it, because they’re always pretty good,” Stork said.

But you’d be OK if it were all the way out here every year?

“Yeah. Yeah. We’ve never beaten Hawaii here (0-16), but I think we can beat some other people here. You know, that’s not to say that we can’t beat Hawaii here; it hasn’t happened yet. But again, I think it’s good for the mid-level teams, because they’re looking to upset people. And you better not be bad at the end, which helps the top teams certainly get ready. But the people who are against it tend to say, ‘well, if we have to play teams that have an RPI, then it drops us when it comes to seedings,’ and stuff like that. But I run the CSUN program and CSUN wants a conference tournament.”

It’s worth noting that the 2019 Big West men’s volleyball tournament at the Sheriff (won by UH) was a rousing success, with all six BWC men’s teams making money from the event, per Luis.


  1. sports for fun November 21, 2019 10:08 pm

    Wow! A conference tournament with 11 teams! If the majority of the BWC teams (6-8 teams) have a strong RPI every year, then MAYBE it makes sense. But as of right now, with so many low RPI teams in conference, it wouldn’t benefit the conference at all, even if it is held in Hawaii every year.

  2. Branz November 22, 2019 7:24 am

    If the BW decide to have a postseason tournament they should limit it to 6 teams.That way the middle teams will play hard and fight for the final spot.
    Have the top two get a bye and 3-6, 4-5 play and the top seed plays the lowest remaining seed. And yes to make money they should have it at the Stan and alternate at the Pyramid to be fair.

  3. darkfire35 November 22, 2019 11:12 am

    Great article as usual Brian. I for one am against the tournament. Contrary to Jeff Stork, although it may give incentive to the “middle” teams, it somewhat discourages those teams like Hawaii that worked really hard all season to get where they are at; knowing that all that hard work can be toppled by 1 match that will kill all their hard work all season long.

    To that, all I can say is GO BOWS!! Take it all! You’ve earned it!

  4. Matt November 22, 2019 1:42 pm

    That’s an interesting thing to bring up, mainly because of the fact that we could be including Cal State Bakersfield and UC San Diego into the BWC lineup. With all these mysterious changes the BWC could be including, we could be overcrowding the conference gap. CSU Bakersfield will become an official member of the conference on July 1, 2020, and UC San Diego will become an official member of the conference on July 1, 2024. So a lot to be told, especially since UCSD is already a member on our men’s volleyball program, and we could be seeing UCSD in the future for UH sports. But especially once CSUB and UCSD enter the men’s and women’s basketball, pressure could be on us potentially to see if we can fight tough against them.

    I appreciate Stork’s idea, but it does come with some sacrifices, especially with the costs to set up the tournament and having to find the teams to qualify on. It’s not like the MVB tournament where there’s only 6 members and nothing else. If they stick to the same qualifications as the MVB tournament, it could be a bit hectic to watch.

  5. Sheila November 22, 2019 4:41 pm

    3 Agree. Season end tournament is a very bad idea for Table leaders of long season because one bad game in final tournament becomes the deciding factor for post-season. Incentive to compete hard in regular season drops too. Favor the status quo.

  6. warriorwahine November 22, 2019 6:57 pm

    status quo is best. no tourney otherwise it just be an rpi killer. and do you see the power 5 having tourneys for womens volleyball? nope.

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