January 6, 2009

Matadors Open 2009 Season at UCSB/Elephant Bar Collegiate Invitational

Jan. 6, 2009

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2009 SEASON GETS UNDERWAY FRIDAY AT UCSB/ELEPHANT BAR INVITATIONAL Coming off one of the finest seasons in Northridge men's volleyball history, the Matadors open their 33rd season this Friday, Jan. 9 at the 45th Annual UCSB/Elephant Bar Collegiate Invitational. Northridge, ranked fifth in the Bison/AVCA Preseason Poll, is seeded fourth in the tournament and will take on the fifth-seeded UCLA Bruins Friday at 1 p.m. The Matadors will then take on either eighth-seeded Pacific or top-seeded UC Santa Barbara Friday at 7 p.m. Depending on Friday's results, Northridge will play a single match on Saturday with a match time to be determined. Other teams competing this weekend include: Long Beach State (#2 seed), Brigham Young (#3), Stanford (#6) and UC Irvine (#7).

SEMIFINAL LOSS TO #2 SEED BYU ENDS AMAZING 2008 SEASON FOR CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE After taking care of the sixth-seed Stanford Cardinal in the 2008 MPSF Tournament quarterfinals, third-seeded Cal State Northridge (23-7, 17-5 MPSF) came up short in the MPSF semifinals to second-seeded BYU. The Matadors' season came to an end at 23-7, equaling the 1993 squad for the most wins in one season in school history. Along the way, Northridge rolled off a school-record 14-match win streak (Feb. 8 through Mar. 28) and had three players named All-American and five players named All-MPSF. The Matadors also finished the season ranked fifth in the CBS College Sports Network/AVCA Top 15 Poll, their highest season ending ranking since 1995. Head coach Jeff Campbell also picked up the 150th win of his Matador coaching career when Northridge defeated Pacific on Feb. 8. Campbell is now 166-150 (.525) heading into his 12th season on the bench.

NORTHRIDGE IN THE ELEPHANT BAR INVITATIONAL This weekend marks the Matadors' seventh consecutive appearance in the UCSB/Elephant Bar Invitational. Northridge has played in the tournament 11 times since 1996 including five seasons (1996-2000) when the tournament was called the UCSB Collegiate Invitational. The Matadors did not participate in either 2001 or 2002 and since 2003 the Invitational has been pared down from a 24-team field to its current eight-team format. Northridge finished 2-1 last season after dropping its opening match to Stanford in four sets and the Matadors have finished 2-1 in the tournament five times since 2003. Northridge lost in the tournament championship to UCLA in both 2004 and 2005 and since 1996, the Matadors have posted a 30-23 (.566) record.

MATADORS OPEN FIFTH IN BISON/AVCA PRESEASON TOP 15 POLL After finishing with a No. 5 national ranking in the final AVCA Top 15 poll of 2008, Northridge opens 2009 in the same fifth position. The Matadors were slotted fifth in the in the Bison/AVCA preseason poll released Dec. 30, 2008. Northridge received 172 points in the season's inaugural poll and are slotted behind top-ranked Penn State (236 pts.), UCLA (219), Pepperdine (205) and Long Beach State (193). The Nittany Lions, the defending national champions, earned 14 of the 16 first place votes while UCLA and Pepperdine each picked up one first place vote. The season's first poll will be released on Jan. 12.

MATADORS TABBED FOURTH IN MPSF POLL Northridge was picked to finish fourth in the 2009 MPSF men's volleyball preseason poll released on Monday, Dec. 8. The Matadors, who finished third in the MPSF last season with a 17-5 conference record, earned a pair of first place votes and 84 points overall to come in just behind Pepperdine (104 pts.) and UCLA (104) and Long Beach State (87). Northridge won 23 matches last season before falling to Brigham Young in the 2008 MPSF Tournament semifinals. This season, the Matadors return four starters and 11 letterwinners, including 2008 First Team All-American Eric Vance. The outside hitter from Camarillo, Calif., will be the lone senior on the 2009 roster. Other returning starters include 2008 All-MPSF Honorable Mention junior middle blocker Kevin McKniff, junior outside hitter Mike Gaudino and junior libero Ali'i Keohohou. After playing sparingly as a freshman, sophomore Tanner Nua looks to take over at the opposite/right side hitter spot in 2009.

NORTHRIDGE LANDS THREE ALL-AMERICANS; FIVE ALL-MPSF PLAYERS IN 2008 Cal State Northridge men's volleyball had its finest season in over a decade and were rewarded as three Matadors were named to the 2008 AVCA Division I-II Men's Volleyball All-America Team. Next to top-ranked Penn State's five honorees, Northridge matched Long Beach State with three players selected, the second highest of any team in the nation. This year's three selections equal the most All-Americans in one season for a Matador team since 1993. The 1991 and 1992 Northridge squads also had three players named to the All-America team. Eric Vance became Northridge's first AVCA First Team All-American since 2003 when he was named to the 10-player First Team as an outside hitter. Vance joins Doug English (2003), Joe Nargi (2003), Chad Strickland (1997), Coley Kyman (1991, 1993) and Neil Coffman (1991) as the only AVCA First Team All-Americans in school history. Isaac Kneubuhl earned All-America honors for the first time as he was named to the AVCA Second Team. Cody Loe, was awarded the prestigious AVCA Newcomer of the Year in addition to AVCA Second Team All-America accolades.

In the MPSF awards, Vance was named to the 2008 All-MPSF First Team as a school-record five Cal State Northridge players were selected to the all-conference team as announced by the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The 2008 Northridge team matched the 2004 team with five All-MPSF selections which is the most of any team in school history. Vance became the first Matador player since Doug English in 2003 to garner First Team accolades. Also named to the 2008 all-conference team were Kneubuhl (Second Team), Loe (Second Team), Travis Bluemling (Second Team) and Kevin McKniff (Honorable Mention). The All-MPSF honors were the first for Kneubuhl, Bluemling, Loe and McKniff while Vance was named to Honorable Mention as a sophomore in 2007.

SCOUTING THE UCSB/ELEPHANT BAR FIELD This year's UCSB/Elephant Bar Restaurant Collegiate Invitational, the premier tournament in the nation, will showcase the top teams and players in the sport. Joining the host Gauchos this January 9th and 10th will be fellow Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) squads BYU, Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State, Pacific, Stanford, UC Irvine, and UCLA.

The tournament kicks off with four opening round matches on Friday, Jan. 9 at 1 p.m. UCSB takes on Pacific, Cal State Northridge plays UCLA, BYU faces off against Stanford, and Long Beach State goes up against UC Irvine. Second round play gets underway Friday at 7 p.m. The Northridge-UCLA match will be contested at the Events Center (The Thunderdome) as will a second round match between the Matadors and Pacific. If Northridge meets UCSB in the second round that match will take place in Robertson Gym.

On Saturday, Jan. 10, action continues with the seventh/eighth place match at 11 a.m. The fifth/sixth place match is at 1:30 p.m., the third/fourth place match is slated for 4 p.m., and the championship bout is set for 6:30 p.m. All four matches will be held at Robertson Gymnasium.

Seven of the eight participating teams are ranked in the top-15 nationally, while six of those are found in the top-10. The AVCA preseason national rankings, which were released Dec. 30, ranked UCLA No. 2, Long Beach State No. 4, Cal State Northridge No. 5, UC Irvine No. 6, Stanford No. 8, BYU No. 9, and UCSB No. 14.

Last season, Long Beach State advanced to the NCAA Final Four after winning the MPSF regular season title. UCLA was chosen to win the MPSF in 2009 by the league's coaches, while UC Irvine won its first national championship in 2007. BYU and Cal State Northridge finished second and third, respectively, last season in the MPSF and advanced to the league tourney. Stanford returns five of six starters from a squad that posted 17 wins in 2008 and Pacific returns talented outside hitter Jeff Hendershot. UCSB returns five starters and a libero.

Alberta won the 2008 Elephant Bar Restaurant Collegiate Invitational. Stanford placed second, Long Beach State third, UC Irvine fourth, Cal State Northridge fifth, USC sixth, UCSB seventh, and Pacific eighth.

- GO MATADORS -

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