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.
A quick one tonight, folks.
No. 18 #HawaiiWVB hits a season-high .398 and dispatches CSUN 25-18, 25-12, 25-14 for a share of its first Big West title since 2016.
Tenth straight win heading into senior night, UH (23-3, 13-2) looking for the outright title against Long Beach. pic.twitter.com/i5VfVX1vUB
— Hawaii Warrior World (@hawaiiwworld) November 22, 2019
“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.