February 10, 2009

Matadors Take a Break From MPSF Play to Host Cal Baptist on Friday

Feb. 10, 2009

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NORTHRIDGE HOSTS CAL BAPTIST FRIDAY IN LONE MATCH OF THE WEEK Fourth-ranked Cal State Northridge (8-2, 5-2 MPSF) takes a break from the MPSF schedule as the Matadors host Cal Baptist (9-4) in a non-conference match Friday at 7 p.m. in The Matadome. Northridge remained unbeaten at home this season with three-set sweeps over No. 7 Long Beach State and No. 15 UC San Diego last week. The Lancers, an NAIA team from Riverside, are the top-ranked team in this week's NAIA national rankings. The Matadors have met Cal Baptist twice in their history, taking a five-set decision in Riverside in 1999 and a three-set match in Northridge in 2007.

NORTHRIDGE ON THE NET All Matador home matches and select road matches will be available via Gametracker at GoMatadors.com.

MATADORS SWEEP NO. 7 LONG BEACH STATE, NO. 15 UC SAN DIEGO AT HOME Junior middle blocker Jacek Ratajczak had 10 kills and a match-high seven blocks while senior Eric Vance added 14 kills as fourth-ranked Cal State Northridge claimed a tight three-set sweep over No. 7 Long Beach State, 30-24, 32-30, 33-31 Friday in The Matadome. Ratajczak, who hit a match-high .600 with just one error in 15 swings, also had one ace and one dig in addition to seven blocks (one solo). Vance cooled off a bit from Northridge's two matches in Hawai'i as the senior put down a match-high 14 kills but committed eight errors to hit .167. On Saturday, Vance posted a match-high 14 kills and junior Mike Gaudino added 13 kills as Northridge stifled No.15 UC San Diego, 30-20, 30-23, 30-21. Northridge hit .446 (48-11-83) as a team and limited UCSD to 27 kills in 70 swings, an .086 hitting clip. Vance, who had just one kill in three swings in the first set, pounded 13 over the final two sets and hit a solid .520 in 25 attacks. The senior All-American also served three of the Matadors' six aces. Gaudino also hit well as he had 13 kills and four errors in 21 swings to hit .429. Gaudino also had a team-high five digs while Vance blocked a career-high seven balls (one solo).

NORTHRIDGE REMAIN FOURTH IN BOTH NATIONAL POLLS Home wins over No. 7 Long Beach State and No. 15 UC San Diego kept the Matadors fourth for the second consecutive week in the Bison/AVCA Top 15 poll (Feb. 9). Northridge, which earned a season-high 223 points on both Jan. 19 and Jan. 26 polls, gained 10 points from last week to earn 193 points in this week's poll. Penn State picked up all 16 first-place votes and 240 total points this week to hold the top spot for the sixth straight week Pepperdine (6-0) remained second and UC Irvine (10-2) remained third. The Matadors are fourth and USC (7-2) rounds out this week's top five. Spots 6-10 are occupied by UCLA (6-5), Long Beach State (5-4), Stanford (6-5), BYU (5-6) and Hawai'i (3-6). George Mason (4-1), UC Santa Barbara (3-7), UC San Diego (4-6), Ohio State (5-5) and Lewis (5-2) round out this week's top-15 teams.

MATADORS ON THE BLOCK After struggling with its blocking over the first eight matches, Northridge turned it up a notch last weekend. The Matadors had been out-blocked by six of their first eight opponents this season and were coming off a series in Hawai'i where they were out-blocked 72-19. But Northridge was able to out-block Long Beach State 10.0 to 7.5 and UC San Diego 14.5 to 7.0. In the win over UCSD, the Matadors posted five solo stuffs which matched their season-high total. That effort moved Northridge up from ninth to seventh in the MPSF in team blocking.

NORTHRIDGE IN NON-CONFERENCE MATCHES The Matadors have always had success against non-conference opponents and will have their first opportunity of the 2009 season this Friday against Cal Baptist. Over the last five seasons, Northridge is 20-1 overall and 15-0 at home against non-conference opponents. Last season, the Matadors defeated Hope University at home and took care of Loyola-Chicago and Lewis on the road in their only non-conference action. In 2007, Northridge finished 5-1 in six non-conference matches which included a 3-0 win over Cal Baptist.

KEOHOHOU SURPASSES 400 CAREER DIGS With 11 digs in two matches last week, junior libero Ali'i Keohohou became the 23rd player in Northridge history to reach 400 career digs. Keohohou, who leads the Matadors with 107 digs this season (2.89 per game), had 10 digs against Long Beach State and had a season-low one dig against UC San Diego to give him 410 digs in his Matador career.

VANCE GETS A REPRIEVE After taking 126 swings in two matches in Hawai'i, senior outside hitter Eric Vance was called upon for 61 attacks in two wins last week. Vance had a season-low 14 kills against both Long Beach State and UC San Diego but after hitting a season-low .167 against the 49ers bounced back to hit a season-high .520 against the Tritons. He also added a career-high seven blocks along with three aces against UCSD. For the season, Vance leads Northridge with 202 kills (5.46 kpg) and three double-doubles and has double figures in kills in all 10 matches.

NORTHRIDGE NOTES Sophomore Tanner Nua had his string of five consecutive matches with double figures in kills snapped after he posted eight kills against UC San Diego. Coming into the UCSD match, Nua had at least 10 kills in eight of the Matadors' first nine matches ... After picking up the first dig of his Northridge career in the finale in Hawai'i, junior Kaleo Baxter posted a season-high three digs against UC San Diego on Saturday ... Fellow junior Shane Nelson also saw his first match action of the season on Saturday as he came on to serve against UCSD ... Coming off a season-high 31 aces in 2008, junior Kevin McKniff has struggled from the service line of late. McKniff has just two aces and 19 service errors in his last four matches. He did make his presence felt at the net however as he had a hand in stuffing a season-high eight UCSD attacks on Saturday. McKniff also had eight total blocks (one solo) in Northridge's 3-1 win at No. 5 UC Irvine on Jan. 16 ... Already the MPSF's top team statistically in opponent hitting percentage (.180), the Matadors took over as the conference's top serving team at 1.84 aces per game. Northridge is out-serving their opponents by a 68-36 margin in aces. Conversely, the Matadors have committed 235 service errors to 170 for the opposition ... Northridge head coach Jeff Campbell improved to 20-0 all-time against UC San Diego with Saturday's 3-0 win.

SCOUTING THE LANCERS Cal Baptist comes into Friday's match with a 9-4 overall record. The Lancers won all four matches at the Lindenwood Tournament in St. Charles, Mo. last weekend and have now won five straight. Cal Baptist is 2-3 against MPSF teams this season, defeating BYU and UC San Diego and falling to UC Irvine, Pepperdine and UCLA. The Lancers are led by freshman OH Levi Cabral who averages 5.37 kills per game. Junior OH Adiel Tiedjop is second at 5.16 kpg while Cal Baptist is hitting .259 as a team. Head Coach Ryan McGuyre is in his seventh season at Cal Baptist and sports a career and school record of 141-50. Northridge leads 2-0 in the all-time series with Cal Baptist dating back to 1999. The Matadors and Lancers have met one time in The Matadome (2007) when CSUN won in three sets.

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