Top-Ranked Matadors Host No. 2 USC and 10th-Ranked Pepperdine This Week

Feb. 2, 2010

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MATCH 10: No. 2 USC @ No. 1 Northridge • Wednesday, Feb. 3 • 7 p.m. • The Matadome


MATCH 11: No. 10 Pepperdine @ No. 1 Northridge • Friday, Feb. 5 • 7 p.m. • The Matadome


FOR STARTERS Cal State Northridge (8-1, 5-1 MPSF) opens a tough week as the newly named top-ranked team in the country hosting second-ranked USC (6-2, 4-1 MPSF) on Wednesday and No. 10 Pepperdine (2-4, 2-3 MPSF) on Friday. Northridge, which won a pair of matches in Northern California last week (3-2 at No. 2 Stanford, 3-0 at Pacific), replaced the Trojans as the top-ranked team in country this week after USC had held the spot for the first four weeks of the season. The Matadors are 2-1 in The Matadome this season falling to No. 10 UCLA in straight sets in their last home match on Jan. 22.

SERIES HISTORY Wednesday's match between the Matadors and USC will be the 61st meeting all-time between the two schools. The Trojans hold a 36-24 advantage in the series but Northridge has won a staggering 14 straight matches over the Trojans. The Matadors have not lost to USC since the 2004 season. Friday's match against Pepperdine is the 67th meeting between the Matadors and Waves with Pepperdine holding a commanding 48-18 lead in the series. The Matadors won in Malibu for the first time last season while the Waves won in Northridge in five sets.

TO RECAP Seniors Theo Edwards and Jacek Ratajczak each pounded a career-high in kills as third-ranked Cal State Northridge opened its two-match trip to Northern California with a 25-30, 30-21, 30-25, 32-34, 15-13 win at No. 2 Stanford on Friday at Maples Pavilion. Edwards had a team-high 21 kills (.487) and Ratajczak added a career-best 20 kills (.514) as the Matadors won their seventh in eight matches to open the season. Junior Tanner Nua chipped in 17 kills (.265) and added one ace and seven digs while senior Mike Gaudino added 11 kills (.179), 10 digs and six blocks for his second double-double of the 2010 season. Setter Matt Stork's 71 assists is also a season-high as he helped Northridge to a solid .373 hitting percentage. Libero Ali'i Keohohou also notched a season-high 15 digs in the win. On Saturday, Edwards had a match-high 12 kills and Gaudino added 11 as Northridge completed a successful two-match road trip with a straight set (30-27, 30-25, 30-23) win at Pacific. Northridge hit .355 (47-14-93) as a team as Edwards (.231) had 12 kills and Gaudino added 11 while hitting a season-high .526 with just one error in 19 swings. Ratajczak and Kevin McKniff combined for 16 kills and just two errors in 26 attacks and Nua (.125) added six kills, three aces and five digs. Stork registered 37 assists, five digs and four blocks and libero Keohohou had a match-high 11 digs.

MATADORS TAKE OVER TOP SPOT IN AVCA COACHES POLL After one week at No. 3 following two weeks at No. 2, Northridge's two wins in Northern California vaulted the Matadors into the top spot in this week's AVCA Coaches Top-15 Poll. Northridge picked up 14 of 16 first-place votes and a season-high 237 total points to overtake USC. The Trojans (6-2), who had held the top spot for the first four weeks of the season, slipped to second picking up two first-place votes and 225 points. BYU (6-3) is number three this week followed by No. 4 UCLA (4-5) and No. 5 Stanford (3-3). Hawai'i (6-3), which jumped from ninth to sixth this week following a pair of wins over UC Irvine, is tied with Long Beach State (4-4), while Penn State (6-2) is eighth, UC Santa Barbara (4-5) is ninth and Pepperdine (2-4) rounds out the top-10. The final five spots in this week's poll go to UC Irvine (5-6), Loyola-Chicago (6-0), UC San Diego (3-6), Ohio State (6-4) and Lewis (5-1). Northridge has now been ranked in the AVCA Top-15 for 138 consecutive weeks. The last time the Matadors did not rank among the top-15 was the first poll (Jan. 15) of the 2002 season.

NORTHRIDGE AT NUMBER ONE By earning the top spot in the AVCA Top-15 Poll this week, the Matadors earned their fourth-ever number one national ranking. Northridge earned its first-ever No. 1 national ranking on Mar. 17, 2008 when the Matadors earned seven first-place votes and tied with Penn State for the top spot. Northridge was idle that week and slipped from the top spot the following week despite not playing a match. The Matadors were ranked No. 1 for consecutive weeks last season (Mar. 2, Mar. 9) before a loss to No. 2 UC Irvine on Mar. 13 dropped Northridge to second.

CAMPBELL CLOSES IN ON 200 CAREER WINS With his next two wins, Matador head coach Jeff Campbell will notch the 199th and 200th wins of his Northridge coaching career. Campbell, who brings a career record of 198-158 (.556) into Wednesday's match against No. 2 USC, has posted 139 wins since the 2003 season (over 19 wins per season) and with the Matadors' 3-0 win at Long Beach State on Jan. 15 became the winningest coach in Northridge men's volleyball history. Campbell surpassed John Price (194-158) who coached the Matador men for 12 seasons. Campbell earned his 150th career win against Pacific on Jan. 25, 2008 and his 100th career win came against George Mason on Mar. 16, 2005

MATADORS OFF TO BEST START IN SCHOOL HISTORY With eight wins in its first nine matches, Northridge is off to the best start in school history. The Matadors are also off to their best-ever start in MPSF play with five wins in their first six conference matches. Northridge had started 7-2 three times in its history (2009, 1993, 1991) but had never started 8-1.

MCKNIFF TAKES OVER MPSF HITTING LEAD, KEOHOHOU JUMPS TO THIRD IN DIGS After hitting .590 (13-0-22) in two matches last week, senior Kevin McKniff took over the MPSF lead in hitting percentage. McKniff is now hitting a robust .515 for the season edging out Long Beach State's Antwain Agillard who is currently hitting .512. Senior libero Ali'i Keohohou made the biggest jump of the week, vaulting from eighth to third in digs per game. Keohohou had 26 digs in two matches last week and is now averaging 2.70 digs per game for the season. Other Matadors among the top-10 include Jacek Ratajczak (fourth in hitting), Matt Stork (third in assists), Tanner Nua (fourth in aces) and Theo Edwards (eighth in points).

NORTHRIDGE NOTES The Matadors competed another successful month of January by winning eight of nine. Northridge is now 20-5 (.800) in the month of January over the last three seasons ... Friday's 3-2 win at No. 2 Stanford was Northridge's first five-set win this season as well as the Matadors' first win when losing the first set ... Northridge is now 6-1 against ranked teams this season and a perfect 2-0 against unranked squads ... The three-match homestand which opens against USC on Wednesday will be the only three matches at home for the Matadors in February ... True freshman Drew Staker got the first extensive playing time of his Matador career against Stanford on Friday. Staker played in three of the five sets and contributed a season-high four kills in six swings while also blocking a career-best six Cardinal attacks ... So far in 2010, the Matadors have turned the MPSF preseason prognostications on its ear. Northridge was picked to finish eighth, among the final teams to qualify for the MPSF Tournament. Northridge, at 5-1, currently has a one-half game lead over USC and a full one-game lead over a host of teams tied for third ... Kevin McKniff will reach the 100 career matches played mark this week as he comes in with 98 matches played and 90 career starts. Mike Gaudino has appeared in 102 matches in his Northridge career.

SCOUTING USC (6-2, 4-1 MPSF): The second-ranked Trojans travel to new No. 1 Northridge on Wednesday and then to No. 9 UC Santa Barbara on Friday. USC lost its first MPSF match on Friday as No. 11 Pepperdine fought back from a 2-1 deficit to upset the top-ranked Trojans, 33-31, 26-30, 27-30, 31-29, 15-10. Murphy Troy, who leads USC averaging 4.16 kpg, had 21 kills while hitting .400 at Pepperdine. Tony Ciarelli, who adds 3.45 kpg, added 18 kills while hitting .375. USC, which is hitting .294 as a team, has won four of its last five matches after a 3-1 setback at No. 12 Hawai'i on Jan. 8. The Matadors are 10-16 all-time against the Trojans in The Matadome.

SCOUTING PEPPERDINE (2-4, 2-3 MPSF): The 10th-ranked Waves travel to #9 UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday before venturing to Northridge on Friday. Pepperdine knocked off top-ranked USC in five games (33-31, 26-30, 27-30, 31-29, 15-10) on Friday at home. Maurice Torres, the MPSF co-Player of the Week, had a match-high 28 kills and Cory Riecks had 21. For the season, Torres leads the Waves averaging 4.74 kpg while Riecks adds 3.58 kpg. As a team, Pepperdine is hitting .302 while setter Kasey Crider is dishing out an average of 13.79 apg which ranks second in the MPSF. The Matadors are 10-19 all-time against the Waves in The Matadome.


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