Top-ranked Matadors Wrap Up Homestand vs. No. 6 Long Beach State; Travel to No. 13 UC San Diego

Feb. 9, 2010


MATCH 12: No. 6 Long Beach State @ No. 1 Northridge • Thursday, Feb. 11 • 7 p.m. • The Matadome


MATCH 13: No. 1 Northridge @ No. 13 UC San Diego • Friday, Feb. 12 • 7 p.m. • RIMAC Arena


FOR STARTERS Top-ranked Cal State Northridge (9-2, 6-2 MPSF) concludes its three-match homestand this Thursday against No. 6 Long Beach State (5-4, 4-2 MPSF) before traveling to No. 13 UC San Diego (4-7, 1-5 MPSF) on Friday. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. The Matadors, 1-1 on the current homestand, defeated No. 2 USC in five sets last Wednesday before falling in four sets to No. 10 Pepperdine on Friday. The match at UC San Diego opens a grueling five-match road swing for the Matadors who will also visit UC Irvine, UCLA, USC and Pepperdine.

SERIES STORIES Thursday's match between the Matadors and Long Beach State will be the 63rd meeting all-time between the two schools. The 49ers hold a 34-28 advantage in the series but Northridge has won eight of the last 10 matches against Long Beach. The Matadors defeated the 49ers 30-26, 30-23, 30-27 in the Walter Pyramid on Jan. 15. Friday's match against UC San Diego is the 67th meeting between the Matadors and Tritons with Northridge holding a commanding 60-6 lead in the series. The Matadors, who defeated UCSD 30-24, 30-26, 30-28 on Jan. 13 in Northridge, have not lost to the Tritons since the 1988 season, a span of 35 straight Matador wins.

TO RECAP Junior Tanner Nua had a team-high 17 kills and senior Theo Edwards added 16 as top-ranked Cal State Northridge held off the upset bid of second-ranked USC to win 30-26, 30-28, 9-30, 26-30, 15-10 Wednesday at The Matadome. On a night when the Matadors struggled on offense, Nua had 17 kills but hit just .167 while Edwards' 16 kills came with a .128 hitting clip. The two did combine for four of Northridge's eight aces (three from Nua) and Nua matched his career-high with 11 digs. Senior Kevin McKniff was a bright spot for the Matador hitters as he added 11 kills while hitting .417 to go with two aces and five blocks. Jacek Ratajczak also had 11 kills but Northridge's second-leading hitter was limited to a .280 hitting clip in 25 swings. Setter Matt Stork posted his third double-double of the season with 56 assists and a career-high 12 digs but Northridge hit just .191 (67-34-173) as a team. Ali'i Keohohou and Mike Gaudino each had a match-high 15 digs in the win. On Friday, 10th-ranked Pepperdine dealt Northridge a four-set loss (30-24, 24-30, 30-22, 30-24). Edwards pounded a career-high 23 kills (.318) to lead the Matadors while Nua added 15 kills (.118) and three digs. McKniff and Gaudino each added eight kills and five blocks but the Northridge attack was limited to a .169 (61-36-148) hitting percentage.

MATADORS RETAIN NUMBER ONE RANKING IN AVCA COACHES POLL Despite splitting a pair of matches last week, Cal State Northridge held on to the top spot in the AVCA Coaches Top-15 Poll for the second consecutive week. Northridge picked up 11 of 16 first-place votes and 229 total points to hold off USC. The Trojans (7-3) remained second this week picking up three first-place votes and 226 points. UCLA (6-5) earned the remaining two first-place votes and 210 points to move up to third followed by No. 4 BYU (7-4) and No. 5 Stanford (5-3). Long Beach State (5-4) is sixth this week followed by Pepperdine (4-4) which knocked off the Matadors on Friday. Hawai'i (6-5) slipped to eighth followed by No. 9 Penn State (8-2) and No. 10 UC Santa Barbara (4-7). The final five spots in this week's poll go to UC Irvine (6-7), Loyola-Chicago (6-0), Ohio State (7-4), UC San Diego (4-7) and Lewis (7-1). Northridge has now been ranked in the AVCA Top-15 for 139 consecutive weeks. The last time the Matadors did not rank among the top-15 was the first poll (Jan. 15) of the 2002 season. In the 33+ years of Matador volleyball, this is Northridge's fifth week as the number one team and the Matadors are now 4-2 in six matches as the top-ranked team in the nation.

WIN STREAKS GALORE Wednesday's 3-2 win over USC gave Northridge a staggering 15 consecutive wins over the Trojans dating back to the 2004 season. But that pales in comparison to the 35 consecutive wins by the Matadors over UC San Diego. Northridge has swept both regular season matches from the Tritons each season since 1989. Other notable win streaks currently for the Matadors include: four straight over BYU, six straight over Pacific and seven straight over UC Santa Barbara. Northridge's 3-0 loss to UCLA snapped a five-match win streak for the Matadors over the Bruins.

CAMPBELL CLOSES IN ON 200TH CAREER VICTORY With his next win, Matador head coach Jeff Campbell will notch the 200th win of his Northridge coaching career. Campbell nailed down career win #199 with the Matadors' five-set win over USC on Wednesday but was denied his 200th when Pepperdine upset Northridge on Friday. Campbell currently owns a career record of 199-159 (.556) and has posted 139 wins (over 19 wins per season) over the last seven years. With the Matadors' 3-0 win at Long Beach State on Jan. 15, Campbell became the winningest coach in Northridge men's volleyball history surpassing 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 DEALT RARE HOME LOSSES With two losses in their last three home matches (UCLA, Pepperdine), the Matadors are currently 3-2 at home after five matches in The Matadome this season. Home losses have been rare for Northridge over the last few seasons as the Matadors are 38-7 (.844) at home since the beginning of the 2007 season. Northridge won a school record 14 matches at home last season and won 12 of 13 at home in 2008.

BIG CROWDS FILL THE MATADOME Record crowds filled The Matadome last week as the Matadors earned the No. 1 national ranking. Wednesday's attendance of 1,475 against USC marked the ninth-largest crowd to witness a Matador men's volleyball match. Friday's crowd of 1,329 against Pepperdine was the 11th-largest. Following the 1994 Northridge earthquake, The Matadome seating capacity shrunk from 3,000 to its current capacity of 1,600. The largest crowd to witness a volleyball match in The Matadome was 3,168 who witnessed the U.S.-Japan men's exhibition match on Nov. 2, 1990. The largest crowd to watch a Matador volleyball match in the current Matadome was 1,481 against Long Beach State in the 2008 regular season finale.

NORTHRIDGE NOTES Junior Tanner Nua notched his first career double-double with 17 kills and 11 digs against USC. Nua also had 11 digs in the season-opener at UC Santa Barbara but only reached eight kills against the Gauchos ... Senior Kevin McKniff has been a mark of consistency for the Matadors in his four seasons. McKniff has never hit below .405 in any of his three-plus seasons and his hitting .478 this season, the same exact figure he hit as a junior last season. After 11 matches, McKniff is averaging a career-best 2.78 kills per game ... Fellow middle Jacek Ratajczak has also been incredibly consistent since assuming a starting role in 2009. However in the Matadors' two losses this season, Ratajczak (a .450 career hitter) has hit .154 with nine kills and five errors in 26 swings ... As a team, Northridge slipped from third to ninth in the MPSF in hitting following last weeks matches ... John Baker and Dillon Auxier each picked up their first collegiate kills against USC.

SCOUTING LONG BEACH STATE (5-4, 4-2 MPSF) The sixth-ranked 49ers travel to Northridge on Thursday before hosting UC Santa Barbara on Friday. Long Beach has won three straight including a 3-1 win at No. 13 UC San Diego last week. The 49ers have won four out of their five road matches this season. Senior OPP Dean Bittner leads Long Beach averaging 4.86 kpg which ranks third in the MPSF. Junior MB Antwain Aguillard adds 2.59 kpg and leads the conference in hitting at .523 The Matadors are 11-13 all-time against the 49ers in The Matadome.

SCOUTING UC SAN DIEGO (4-7, 1-5 MPSF) The 13th-ranked Tritons host Northridge and No. 10 UC Santa Barbara this week. Last week UCSD lost in four sets at home to Long Beach State and defeated Hope International on the road. The Tritons have only played two matches at home this season defeating Princeton (3-0) before falling to Long Beach State. Senior OPP Frank Fritsch leads UCSD averaging 3.86 kills per game while fellow senior Jason Spangler adds 2.97 kpg. Setter Phil Bannan averages 12.31 assists per game while the Tritons are hitting an even .300. The Matadors are 30-4 all-time in matches at UCSD.