NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - With the 2014 season less than a month away, the MPSF released its 2014 Preseason Coaches Poll with Cal State Northridge earning 47 points while being picked to finish 10th among 13 conference teams.
The Matadors, who finished 11-15 overall and 9-15 in conference play last season, return four staters but will be one of the younger teams in the MPSF this season. CSUN is ranked 14th in the AVCA Preseason Coaches Top-15 Poll.
"Obviously we're not paying much attention to polls," said Head Coach Jeff Campbell. "We've got great young players on this team we just need experience. With the core guys we have coming back we can compete with anyone in this conference."
Defending MPSF champion BYU and Long Beach State were named co-favorites to win the MPSF as each earned three first place votes and 126 points. UC Irvine, which received six first place votes, was picked third after earning 125 points while UCLA and Stanford rounded out the preseason top-five in the 13-team conference.
Junior setter Travis Magorien (Agoura Hills, Calif./Westlake HS0 will steer the CSUN offense for the third consecutive season after posting 844 assists (9.17 aps) during his sophomore season. Magorien, who started all but three matches last season, heads into the 2014 season with 1,137 career assists which ranks 12th in CSUN history.
Fellow juniors Kyle Stevenson (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif./Palos Verdes HS) and Greg Faulkner (Los Angeles, Calif./Westchester HS) also return at outside hitter and middle blocker respectively. Stevenson started 15 times as a sophomore finished fifth on the team with 94 kills (1.45 kps). Faulkner saw action in just four matches as a sophomore behind seniors Drew Staker and Jared Moore but was a an MPSF All-Freshman Team selection in 2011.
Libero Charlie Condron (Huntington Beach, Calif./Huntington Beach HS) is the lone senior on the 2014 roster as he heads into his final season with 298 career digs. Condron will be pushed by a sophomore Nick Alegrado (Chula Vista, Calif./Otay Ranch HS) and redshirt freshman Bradley Sakaida (Oak Park, Calif./Oak Park HS). Sakaida had an impressive fall season for the Matadors.
The Matadors also return sophomores Sam Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio/Purcell Marion HS) and Chance Earnest (Los Angeles, Calif./Palisades Charter HS) who both received extended looks at the outside hitter spot in 2013. Holt had a career-high 18 kills to go with five digs and two blocks in his first collegiate start at BYU last Feb. 2.
Brian O'Gorman (Merrick, NY/John F. Kennedy HS), Vaughn Wellenreiter (Newbury Park, Calif./Newbury Park HS) and Leni Ma'ia'i (Dunedin, New Zealand/John McGloshen College) also return in the middle after gaining valuable experience as redshirt freshman in 2013. O'Gorman hit .529 over 10 matches over the final 10 matches last season.
In addition to Staker and Moore in the middle, the Matadors will have to replace senior John Baker who led the team in kills a season ago with 350 (3.57 kps). Redshirt freshman Damani Lenore (Yorba Linda, Calif./Yorba Linda HS) is one candidate as is fellow redshirt freshman Jakub Ciesla (Baca Raton, Fla./Olympic Heights HS). Both Lenore and Ciesla had fall matches in which they performed extremely well according to Campbell.
Campbell, opening his 17th season in January, has a deep and talented roster but one that is short on experience. He has also added an exceptional recruiting class for 2014-15 so the present and future of CSUN men's volleyball looks solid.
The Matadors open the 2014 campaign Jan. 3 at the UCSB Asics Invitatonal. CSUN, placed in Pool B, will play No. 4 Long Beach State, IPFW and No. 2 UCLA and UC San Diego on Friday before advancing to a final match on Saturday.
2014 MPSF MEN'S VOLLEYBALL
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. BYU (3) 126 points
1. Long Beach State (3) 126
3. UC Irvine (6) 125
4. UCLA (1) 117
5. Stanford 99
6. Pepperdine 90
7. UC Santa Barbara 79
8. USC 4
9. Hawai'i 51
10. Cal State Northridge 47
11. Pacific 38
12. UC San Diego 24
13. Cal Baptist 18
() - First-place votes
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