Matadors Continue Postseason Push at No. 5 Pepperdine, USC This Week

MATCH #23 (MPSF #21):

No. 10 Cal State Northridge Matadors (11-11, 9-11 MPSF) at No. 5 Pepperdine Waves (12-9, 11-9 MPSF)

Thursday, Apr. 4, 2013 - 7:00 p.m. PDT
Firestone Fieldhouse (3,104) - Mailbu, CA
Live Stats: pepperdinewaves.com
Streaming Video: pepperdinewaves.com
Audio: none
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors


MATCH #24 (MPSF #22):

No. 10 Cal State Northridge Matadors (11-11, 9-11 MPSF) at USC Trojans (5-15, 5-15 MPSF)

Saturday, Apr. 6, 2013 - 7:00 p.m. PDT
Galen Center (10,258) - Los Angeles, CA
Live Stats: usctrojans.com
Streaming Video: usctrojans.com
Audio: usctrojans.com
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors

Weekly Match Notes  


FOR STARTERS

Cal State Northridge (11-11, 8-10 MPSF), on the verge of clinching an MPSF Tournament berth, continues its regular season-concluding, six-match road trip this week as the 10th-ranked Matadors travel to No. 5 Pepperdine (12-9, 11-9 MPSF) on Wednesday and USC (5-15, 5-15 MPSF) on Friday. Both matches are scheduled for a 7 p.m. CSUN opened the road trip in dominating fashion last Friday as the Matadors swept No. 6 Stanford but Northridge came up short the next night falling in four sets to unranked Pacific. One win in their final four matches will get the Matadors into the postseason for the second straight season.

NORTHRIDGE ON THE NET

Follow Cal State Matador volleyball online at the official online home of Cal State Northridge athletics, www.GoMatadors.com. Select matches will feature an audio broadcast with Mark Scheurmann handling the play-by-play. Home matches will also be streamed live at GoMatadors.com. Fans can also follow the Matadors at Twitter.com/gomatadors and YouTube.com/northridgeathletics. Fans can view and print the Matadors 2013 Record Book online at GoMatadors.com. The guide features statistics and a complete men's volleyball history.

MATADORS REMAIN 10TH IN AVCA TOP-15 POLL

A dominating sweep over No. 6 Stanford and a four-set loss to unranked Pacific kept Cal State Northridge 10th in this week's AVCA Coaches Top-15 poll. The Matadors earned 95 points this week which is 12-point decrease over last week and the lowest point total awarded the Matadors since earning 79 on Feb. 4 . Cal State Northridge has now been ranked in all 14 polls this season and 185 of the last 197 weekly polls dating back to the 2002 season. The last time the Matadors were unranked was a period of 12 weeks (Feb. 7-May 2) during the 2011 season. BYU (19-3) remained in the top spot for the fifth straight week as the Cougars received all 16 first-place votes and 240 total points. Long Beach State (19-7) moved up to second this week while UCLA (17-9) moved up to third. UC Irvine dropped to fourth and Pepperdine (12-9) rounds out this week's top-five. Cal Baptist (14-12) is sixth this week followed by UC Santa Barbara (14-12), Stanford (12-10), Lewis (18-7) and the Matadors (11-11). This week's top-15 is filled out by Ohio State (17-5), Penn State (17-6), Loyola-Chicago (17-8), Hawaii (9-16) and Ball State (16-5) ... CSUN slipped one spot to 10th in the Volleyball Magazine Top-10 Poll after receiving 17 points. CSUN, which was a season-high sixth three weeks ago, has now been ranked in 11 of the 13 Volleyball Magazine polls this season.

SCOUTING REPORT

Pepperdine (12-9, 11-9 MPSF) carries a season-long, three-match losing streak into Thursday's match in Malibu. The fifth-ranked Waves were upset by No. 15 USC (3-1) on Mar. 21 before falling at top-ranked BYU (3-1) and at No. 7 Cal Baptist (3-1) last week. Senior Maurice Torres, who had a match-high 17 kills at BYU,  leads the team averaging 4.19 kpg which ranks second in the MPSF. Sophomore Josh Taylor adds 2.99 kpg while the Waves rank third in the conference hitting .304 as a team. The Matadors trail 52-21 in the all-time series with Pepperdine but have won three of the last five meetings between the two teams including a 3-2 win on Feb. 8 in Northridge ... USC (5-15, 5-15 MPSF) lost road matches at Cal Baptist (3-2) and BYU (3-0) last week and has now dropped seven if its last nine matches. The Trojans, last season's MPSF champions and National Runners-up, are led offensively by junior opposite Tanner Jansen who averages a team-high 3.82 kills per game. Sophomore middle Robert Feathers adds 2.14 kpg while hitting .413. The Trojans are hitting .236 as a team through 20 matches. Saturday's match is the 70th meeting all-time between CSUN and USC with the Trojans holding a 41-28 lead in the series. The Matadors snapped a five-match skid to the Trojans by taking a four-set decision in The Matadome on Feb. 6. CSUN is 5-3 all-time at the Galen Center since the arena opened in 2006.

MATADORS IN MPSF TOURNAMENT PICTURE

It comes down to one Matador win or one Hawai'i loss over the final two weeks to ensure Cal State Northridge qualifying for the MPSF Tournament. Six teams have already punched a ticket to the postseason, leaving Stanford (9-10), the Matadors (9-11) and Hawai'i (8-14) to battle for the final two spots. Cal Baptist (10-10) would have clinched a spot but is ineligible for the postseason this season. Stanford has five matches remaining (three road, two home) while the Matadors play all four remaining matches on the road. Hawai'i has just two road matches remaining at UC San Diego next weekend (Apr. 12-13). One CSUN win would eliminate Hawai'i due to the Matadors owning the tiebreaker based on their two wins in Honolulu. By winning its final four matches, Northridge can reach 13 conference wins. UCLA, at 13-9, is currently in fourth-place at 13-7.

OUTSIDE HITTER IN A STATE OF FLUX

The outside hitter position opposite junior Brandon Lebrock has been in a state of flux over the last few weeks. Lebrock has been a mainstay in the Matador lineup starting all 22 matches this season but four different players have occupied the other outside hitter spot, the most recent being true freshman Chance Earnest. Cory Wagner started the first two matches this season before sophomore Kyle Stevenson laid claim to the starting spot. Stevenson, who is averaging 1.48 kpg this season, started the next five matches before giving way to redshirt freshman Sam Holt against top-ranked BYU on Feb. 2. Holt responded with a season-high 18 kills against the Cougars with Stevenson temporarily moving to the opposite spot. Stevenson moved back to the outside the following match against USC and started there the next six matches before again giving way to Holt against Hawai'i on Mar. 3. Stevenson then started three of the next five, with Holt getting the other two starts before Earnest earned his first collegiate start Friday at Stanford.

STAKER ENTERS MATADOR CAREER TOP-10

Senior middle blocker Drew Staker has etched his name in three career categories as his final season winds down. Staker, who is hitting a team-high .475 this season, currently ranks seventh in hitting in CSUN history at .402. Staker also ranks seventh in career block assists with 255 in 328 sets. With 13 total blocks in two matches last week, he is now in the career top-10 in total blocks with 288 (10th). Staker leads the Matadors this season with 99 total stuffs which is just seven blocks behind his career season-best total of 106 from the 2011 season.

NORTHRIDGE NOTES

The 3-0 win at Stanford was the Matadors' first sweep since blanking UC San Diego on Mar. 8 and just their third sweep in 20 MPSF matches this season. CSUN swept both Concordia and Grand Canyon in non-conference matches in mid-January ... Senior John Baker has upped his kills per game average to a season-best 3.62. Baker, who has had an impressive senior season, is hitting a solid .305 in a team-high 698 swings. Baker's previous career-high in attempts came in his redshirt freshman season of 2010 when he attacked 494 times ... With 27 team digs at Stanford and 44 at Pacific, the Matadors moved out of the bottom position in the MPSF in digs per game. CSUN now ranks 11th out of 13 teams averaging 7.67 digs per game.

DOUBLE FIGURE WINS ACHIEVED

By picking up their 10th win of the season against UC San Diego on Mar. 8, the Matadors have now earned double figure wins in 13 of the last 14 seasons and 35th time in the 37 years of Matador men's volleyball. Jeff Campbell has now posted double figure win totals in 14 of his 16 seasons at the helm.

UP NEXT

Following Saturday's match at USC, the Matadors will conclude the regular season next week with matches at UC Irvine (Apr. 10) and at Long Beach State (Apr. 13).

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