Matadors Open MPSF Play On the Road at Top-Ranked USC, No. 3 Pepperdine

Jan. 11, 2011

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Match #4

No. 12 Northridge (1-2, 0-0 MPSF) at No. 1 USC (0-0, 0-0 MPSF)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 7 p.m. PST

Galen Center - Los Angeles, Calif.

Live Stats: (Gametracker)

Match #5

No. 12 Northridge (1-2, 0-0 MPSF) at No. 3 Pepperdine (2-0, 0-0 MPSF)

Saturday, January 15, 2011 - 7 p.m. PST

Firestone Fieldhouse - Malibu, Calif.

Live Stats: (Gametracker)

Cal State Northridge (1-2, 0-0 MPSF) opens the 2011 conference season this week as the Matadors travel to top-ranked USC (0-0, 0-0 MPSF) on Wednesday and third-ranked Pepperdine (2-0, 0-0 MPSF) on Saturday. The Matadors dropped two of three matches last weekend at the UCSB Gaucho Invitational, defeating UC San Diego (3-1) and falling to No. 10 UC Santa Barbara (3-0) and No. 2 UC Irvine (3-1). Northridge is 16-18 (.471) all-time in conference season openers and has won its last four MPSF openers including a 3-1 win at USC on Jan. 9, 2008

Jeff Campbell is in his 14th season as head coach with 214 career wins, the most in Northridge men's volleyball history. With the Matadors' 3-0 win at Long Beach State on Jan. 15, 2010, Campbell became the winningest coach in CSUN men's volleyball history surpassing John Price (194-158) who coached the Matador men for 12 seasons. Campbell has averaged over 23 wins per season over the last three seasons and has led the Matadors to at least 18 wins every season since 2003.

Follow Matador volleyball online at the official online home of Cal State Northridge athletics, All Matador home matches and a majority of road matches will be broadcast live via Gametracker. In addition, select home and road matches will feature live audio. Fans can also follow the Matadors at and Fans can also view and print the Matadors 2011 media guide online at The guide features player information, photos, statistics and a complete men's volleyball history.

After opening the 2011 season with a No. 12 preseason national ranking, the Matadors remained 12th this week after earning 60 points in the first poll released Jan. 10. Despite not playing a match last week, USC received 13 of 16 first-place votes and is ranked No. 1 with 236 points. BYU (3-0), which won the UCSB Invitational, received one first-place vote and jumped from fifth to second with 217 points. Pepperdine (2-0) also received one first-place vote and is third with 203 points followed by Stanford (1-0) while Hawai'i (0-0) and UC Santa Barbara (2-1) are tied for fifth. UC Irvine (1-2) is seventh followed by Ohio State (0-2), UCLA (2-1) and Penn State (0-0). This week's top-15 is rounded out by Long Beach State (1-2), the Matadors (1-2), Loyola-Chicago (0-0), Ball State (1-0) and Lewis (0-0).

Northridge figured to have a huge hole to fill in the middle with the departures of senior All-Americans Kevin McKniff and Jacek Ratajczak. But after the first weekend of action, sophomore Drew Staker and redshirt freshman Marty Lorenz have held their own at least offensively. Staker leads the team in kills per game (2.64) and is hitting a team-high .694. Lorenz is second on the squad averaging 2.57 kpg while hitting .452. Staker had one of the finest hitting performances in school history against UC San Diego on Friday as he knocked down 15 kills in 17 swings with just one error to hit .824. One negative from the weekend is that the Matadors were out-blocked by all three opponents and are being out-blocked by an average of 2.27-1.95 per game.

Much like he did midway through the 2010 season, sophomore John Baker came off the bench to provide an immediate spark for the Matadors. Trailing in the second set against UC Irvine, Campbell inserted Baker at outside hitter and Baker responded with three kills, three aces, six digs and a pair of blocks. Northridge played its most inspired volleyball of the weekend during an 11-0 run in the set two win over the Anteaters in which the sophomore served a pair of aces and served tough throughout.

The 12th-ranked Matadors will get their first crack at knocking off a number one team in 2011 this Wednesday at USC. Northridge is 4-20 (.167) against teams ranked atop the AVCA Top-15 poll since the 2000 season. The Matadors went 1-2 against top-ranked teams last season losing to Pepperdine (Feb. 26) and Stanford (May 1) and defeating the Cardinal at home on Apr. 2. Northridge pulled off a rare win at No. 1 Pepperdine during the 2009 season and the Matadors' other two wins over a number one team came during the 2003 season when Northridge upset No. 1 UC Irvine in The Matadome before upsetting newly-named No. 1 Hawai'i the following week.

The Matadors kept their longest win streak over one team intact with a 3-1 win over UC San Diego on Friday but saw its nine-match win streak over UC Santa Barbara snapped with Friday's 3-0 loss. Northridge ran its win streak over UCSD to 37 straight and the Matadors still have not lost to the Tritons since the 1988 season. CSUN had not lost a match to UCSB since the final match of the 2007 season but the Gauchos ended the string of nine consecutive losses with the straight set victory.

The Matadors dropped their season-opener for the first time since 2008 after falling to UCSB on Friday. The only other time in the last 10 years the CSUN lost a season-opener was 2008 when the Matadors lost a four-set decision to Stanford at UCSB ... Three different players led Northridge in kills in the first three matches of the season. Lorenz led in the opener with eight, Staker's 15 led vs. UCSD and freshman Brandon Lebrock had 12 against UC Irvine ... The Matadors will play three more road matches (USC, Pepperdine, UCLA) before taking on UC Santa Barbara in their home opener on Jan. 21.

NORTHRIDGE (1-2) @ USC (0-0)
The Matadors and Trojans will meet for the 64th time on Wednesday with USC holding a 36-27 edge in the all-time series. Northridge, however, has won the last 17 matches between the two teams and the Matadors have not lost to the Trojans since Feb. 11, 2004. The closest USC has come to ending the streak was last season's first match when the Matadors pulled out a 15-10 win in the first set in Northridge. The Trojans defeated Alberta in straight sets last week in an exhibition behind 12 kills from Tony Ciarelli and 11 from Murphy Troy.

The Matadors and Waves will meet for the 69th time on Friday with Pepperdine holding a 50-18 lead in the all-time series. Northridge has lost four straight to the Waves with the last Matador win coming in five sets in 2009. Pepperdine opened the season with a pair of non-conference wins over No. 8 Ohio State. Sophomore OH Maurice Torres leads the Waves offensively averaging 4.22 kpg while hitting .333. Pepperdine is hitting .353 as a team.

Playing with virtually an entirely new starting lineup, 12th-ranked Cal State Northridge struggled in its season-opener falling to 10th-ranked UC Santa Barbara, 25-16, 25-21, 25-17 at the Gaucho Invitational Friday. Marty Lorenz led Northridge with eight kills while hitting .583. Brandon Lebrock added seven kills but hit just .059. Drew Staker and Tanner Nua each added five kills and a pair of blocks. Nua also served two of the Matadors' four aces. CSUN was out-hit .526 (39-9-57) to .114 (27-19-70) as a team and had just six team digs and nine team blocks. Staker and Nua then combined for 28 kills as Northridge defeated UC San Diego 29-31, 25-23, 25-23, 25-18 Friday night. Staker knocked down a career-high 15 kills in 17 swings with just one error to hit .824. Nua came back with 13 kills in 27 swings to hit .333. The senior also had five digs, five blocks and one ace. Northridge also got nine kills apiece from Lebrock (.136) and Dillon Auxier (.185) while Lebrock added a match-high three aces and six digs. The Matadors then came away with a sixth-place finish after falling to No. 2 UC Irvine 25-17, 18-25, 25-20, 25-20 Saturday. Lebrock had the best match of his young career on Saturday with 12 kills in 23 swings (.391).