January 18, 2012

Matadors Take On No. 8 Long Beach State in Home Opener Friday

MATCH #6 (MPSF Match #3):

No. 8 Long Beach State (2-3, 0-2 MPSF) at No. 11 Northridge Matadors (1-4, 0-2 MPSF)

Friday, Jan. 20, 2012 - 7:00 p.m. PST
The Matadome - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: Gametracker (GoMatadors.com)
Streaming Video: none
Audio: GoMatadors.com (Mark Schuermann - PBP, Alex Jones - Analyst)
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors

Weekly Match Notes (PDF)


FOR STARTERS

After five road matches to open the 2012 season, No. 11 Cal State Northridge (1-4, 0-2 MPSF) returns to The Matadome for its home opener Friday against eighth-ranked Long Beach State (2-3, 0-2 MPSF). First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. The Matadors opened the conference season with losses at No. 10 Pepperdine (3-1) and No. 6 USC (3-0) last week and will look to snap a two-match skid against the 49ers on Friday.

NORTHRIDGE ON THE NET

Follow Cal State Matador volleyball online at the official online home of Cal State Northridge athletics, www.GoMatadors.com. All Matador home matches and a majority of road matches will feature live stats via Gametracker. In addition, select home and road matches will be broadcast live with Mark Schuermann handling the play-by-play and Alex Jones providing analysis. Fans can also follow the Matadors at Twitter.com/gomatadors and YouTube.com/northridgeathletics. Fans can also view and print the Matadors 2012 Record Book online at GoMatadors.com. The guide features statistics and a complete men's volleyball history.

TO RECAP

11th-ranked Cal State Northridge dropped its MPSF season opener to No. 10 Pepperdine 25-18, 25-19, 16-25, 26-24 Wednesday night at Firestone Fieldhouse. The Matadors dug themselves a two-set hole before dominating set three and nearly forcing a fifth set. Julius Höefer was the offensive stalwart for the Matadors putting down a team-high 21 kills while hitting .298 in 47 swings. Senior Matt Stork and sophomore Greg Faulkner each chipped in eight kills with Faulkner hitting .538 on 13 attacks. Faulkner also posted a team-high five blocks (all assisted) while setter Filip Tomicic dished out 42 assists as Northridge hit .243 as a team. The Matadors then wrapped up a season-opening five-match road swing with a straight-set loss (25-16, 25-16, 25-23) at sixth-ranked USC Friday night Höefer had nine kills in 22 swings but committed six errors to hit .136. Stork and Faulkner each added five kills while Jared Moore came off the bench to also put down five kills while hitting .714 in seven attacks. In addition to Moore, John Baker (4 kills, .222) and Brandon Lebrock (3 kills, .600) came off the bench to provide a spark in the third set.

MATADORS REMAIN 11TH IN AVCA TOP-15 POLL

After dropping matches at No. 10 Pepperdine and No. 6 USC to open the MPSF season, Cal State Northridge remained 11th in this week's AVCA Coaches Top-15 Poll released Jan. 16th. The Matadors, who have been ranked 11th two consecutive weeks, earned 70 points in this week's poll, up two points from last week's poll. Northridge, which had been ranked in the AVCA Top-15 for 155 consecutive weeks prior to Feb. 7, 2011, have now been ranked in all three polls this season. BYU, which won a pair of road matches at No. 1 UC Irvine last weekend, earned 15 of 16 first-place votes and 254 points and is the new top-ranked team in the nation this week. The Anteaters dropped to second this week with 231 points. UCLA (222) received the other first-place vote and is third this week followed by Stanford (205) and USC (180). Penn State (163) is sixth this week followed by Pepperdine (144), Long Beach State (128), Lewis (123) and Ohio State (116) . This week's top-15 is rounded out by the Matadors (70), Hawai'i (59), UC Santa Barbara (56), Loyola-Chicago (53) and Pacific (17).

THIS WEEK'S STORYLINES

The Matadors and 49ers are both looking for their MPSF win this Friday. The two teams each dropped road matches at Pepperdine and USC to open the conference season last week ... Long Beach State holds a 35-30 edge in the all-time series which dates back to 1981. The Matadors had won three straight and 10 of the last 12 over the 49ers before Long Beach swept Northridge at the Walter Pyramid  in the Matadors' 2011 season finale last April. The last time the two teams met  in Northridge, the Matadors came back from two sets down to upset the second-ranked 49ers 11-25, 16-25, 25-21, 25-22, 16-14 behind 10 kills apiece from Drew Staker and Greg Faulkner ... Jim Baughman and Taylor Crabb pace the Long Beach State offense averaging 3.20 and 3.05 kills per game respectively. The 49ers are hitting .282 as a team and average 12.95 kills per game. Conversely, the Matadors are hitting .225 as a team while averaging 11.28 kills per game.

HOME SWEET HOME

Friday's match is the 2012 Matadome debut for Northridge which looks to reclaim its home court dominance after a tough 2011 campaign. Despite finishing 4-9 on The Matadome floor last season, Northridge is still an impressive 53-19 (.736) on their home court over the last five seasons. In 34 seasons of men's volleyball in The Matadome, the Matadors hold a 263-170 (.607) record. In four of the last five seasons, the Matadors have won at least 11 matches at home and have not lost more than four. The 2009 Northridge team set the school record with 14 home victories while the 2008 squad (12-1) came within reach the school's best home winning percentage of .929.

MATADORS IN HOME OPENERS

Northridge is 23-12 (.657) all-time in home openers dating back to 1977. The Matadors had a string of three straight home opening wins snapped with a straight set loss to UC Santa Barbara last season. The Matadors are well over .500 (21-14) all-time in conference home openers dating back to 1977. Northridge can improve to 18-19 all-time in MPSF openers with a win over eighth-ranked Long Beach State on Friday.

HÖEFER SHOULDERS THE LOAD

The Matadors have leaned heavily on Julius Hoefer in the early going and the freshman opposite has responded. Höefer has taken a team-high 136 swings through the first five matches while converting 58 into kills (3.87 kpg). Senior Matt Stork ranks second in attacks with 115 while no other Matador hitter has more than 53 swings. Höefer is also proving to be a solid all-around player as he ranks second on the squad with 15 digs (1.00 dpg) and 13 blocks (0.87 bpg) while also contributing a pair of aces. Against 10th-ranked Pepperdine, Höefer pounded a Northridge season-high 21 kills in 47 attacks (.298) while also adding two digs and two blocks.  

MATADORS LOOK FOR OUTSIDE COMBINATION

Northridge has used a different combination of outside hitters in four of the first five matches this season. Stork combined with true freshman Kyle Stevenson in the season's first two matches before sophomores Cory Wagner and Brandon Lebrock started in the win over Loyola-Chicago. Stork was back in the lineup at Pepperdine with Lebrock making his second start of the season. Jeff Campbell then turned to Stork and Wagner at USC. Of the four outside hitters, Wagner is hitting .306 in 36 swings while Lebrock is hitting at a .304 clip in 23 attacks. Stork has struggled in the early going hitting just .113 while averaging 2.53 kills per game.

NORTHRIDGE NOTES

Transfer Sina Aghassy made his Matador debut against USC and posted three digs while sharing libero duties with Charlie Condron. Aghassy, who redshirted the 2011 season at Hawai'i, is a local product from nearby Winnetka and Taft High School ... The Matadors are still waiting for sophomore middle blocker Marty Lorenz to make his 2012 debut. Lorenz, who is bouncing back from some physical issues, hit .350 a season ago with 42 kills in 10 matches while also blocking 25 balls (0.93 bpg) ... The Matadors are now 1-4 to open the season for the first time since 1999 and are 0-2 in the MPSF for the first time since 2006. Despite dropping its first two MPSF matches, the 2006 Northridge team bounced back to finish 13-9 and in sixth-place in the MPSF ... USC was the first team to sweep the Matadors this season.

CAMPBELL APPROACHES 225 CAREER WINS

Having become Cal State Northridge men's volleyball's all-time winningest coach in 2010, Jeff Campbell is fast approaching his next milestone win which would be No. 225 of his 15-year Matador career. Campbell reached the 150 and 200 career wins over the last four seasons and after defeating Loyola-Chicago now has 221 career victories. The 15th-year head coach has posted double figure win totals in 12 of his 14 previous seasons on the bench and notched a career-best 24 wins in 2009.

UP NEXT

Following a single match against Long Beach State this week, the Matadors will take a one-match trip to UCLA next week (Jan. 25) before returning home to host Cal Baptist in a non-conference match on Friday, Jan. 27.

- GO MATADORS -

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