Top-Ranked Matadors Continue Season-Long Road Trip at No. 11 UC Irvine and No. 6 UCLA

Feb. 16, 2010

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MATCH 14: No. 1 Northridge @ No. 11 UC Irvine • Wednesday, Feb. 17 • 7 p.m. • Bren Center


MATCH 15: No. 1 Northridge @ No. 6 UCLA • Friday, Feb. 19 • 7 p.m. • Pauley Pavilion


FOR STARTERS Winners of five of its last six matches, top-ranked Cal State Northridge (11-2, 8-2 MPSF) continues its season-long, five-match road trip this week as the Matadors travel to No. 11 UC Irvine (7-8, 3-7 MPSF) on Wednesday and No. 6 UCLA (7-6, 6-4 MPSF) on Friday. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. Northridge, in its third week as the number one team, defeated No. 6 Long Beach State in straight sets last Thursday before opening the five-match road trip with a straight set win at No. 13 UC San Diego on Friday. The current road trip continues with matches at USC and Pepperdine next week.

SERIES HISTORIES Wednesday's match between the Matadors and UC Irvine will be the 51st meeting all-time between the two schools. The Matadors hold a 33-17 advantage in the series and have won three of the last five matches against the Anteaters including a 3-1 win on Jan. 20 in Northridge. Friday's match at UCLA is the 70th meeting between the Matadors and Bruins with UCLA holding a commanding 56-12-1 lead in the series. The Bruins defeated Northridge in straight sets on Jan. 22 ending a streak of five consecutive Matador wins.

TO RECAP Top-ranked Cal State Northridge made quick work of No. 6 Long Beach State as the Matadors swept the 49ers 30-24, 30-24, 30-21 last Thursday at The Matadome. Northridge dispatched the sixth-ranked 49ers in one hour and 27 minutes as the Matadors hit a season-high .476 as a team. Northridge committed just 10 hitting errors in the match as Nua (.476) had a team-high 13 kills and Edwards (.333) added 12. Senior Kevin McKniff had nine kills in 11 swings without an error to hit .818. Nua and Matt Stork each had two of the Matadors' six aces. On Friday McKniff and Jacek Ratajczak each had a team-high 12 kills as Northridge won its second straight and fifth in its last six matches with a hard fought 30-26, 30-26, 30-27 win at No. 13 UC San Diego on Friday. The Matadors continue their best start in school history and remain unbeaten in seven matches away from The Matadome. Northridge also completed the season sweep of the Tritons for the 16th straight season. The Matadors hit a solid .345 (51-13-110) against the Tritons as McKniff had 12 kills while hitting .688 and also had a pair of aces and six blocks (two solo). Ratajczak also had 12 kills, hitting .524 and Theo Edwards also reached double figures in kills with 11 (.226). Matador setter Matt Stork narrowly missed a double-double with 42 assists and nine digs and Mike Gaudino chipped in seven kills and eight digs.

MATADORS RETAIN NUMBER ONE RANKING IN AVCA COACHES POLL With 3-0 sweeps over No. 6 Long Beach State and No. 13 UC San Diego last week, Cal State Northridge solidified its hold on the top spot in the AVCA Coaches Top-15 Poll. Northridge, ranked number one for the third consecutive week, picked up 14 of 16 first-place votes and 236 total points. Stanford (7-3) picked up one first-place vote and 210 points to move up to number two this week. USC (7-4) slipped to third followed by Pepperdine (5-4), which picked up the remaining first-place vote, and BYU (7-4) rounds out this weeks top-five. UCLA (7-6) is sixth this week  followed by Penn State (8-2), UC Santa Barbara (6-7), Hawai'i (6-5) and Long Beach State (5-6). The final five spots in this week's poll go to UC Irvine (7-8), Loyola-Chicago (7-0), Ohio State (8-5), UC San Diego (4-9) and Lewis (7-2). Northridge has now been ranked in the AVCA Top-15 for 140 consecutive weeks. The last time the Matadors did not rank among the nation's top-15 was the first poll (Jan. 15) of the 2002 season. By earning its third number one ranking this season, Northridge has surpassed the 2009 team which earned back-to-back No. 1 national rankings on Mar. 2 and Mar. 9. In the 33+ years of Matador volleyball, this is Northridge's sixth week as the number one team.

MCKNIFF NABS SECOND MPSF PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONOR Senior middle blocker Kevin McKniff earned his second MPSF Player of the Week award after leading the top-ranked Matadors to wins over No. 6 Long Beach State and No. 13 UCSD last week. McKniff also earned the first MPSF Player of the Week award of the 2010 season on Jan. 11 after leading the Matadors to the Santa Barbara Invitational crown and earning MVP honors. The senior from Tucson, Ariz., had nine kills without an error in 11 swings (.818) to go with one ace and to blocks against the 49ers and then had 12 kills with one error in 16 attacks at UCSD. He also added two aces and six total blocks against the Tritons. For the week, McKniff hit a staggering .741 with 21 kills and one error in 27 swings. He added three aces (0.50 sapg) and eight blocks (1.33 bpg).

CAMPBELL SURPASSES 200 CAREER VICTORIES With wins over Long Beach State and UC San Diego last week, Matador head coach Jeff Campbell surpassed the 200 career win plateau. Campbell currently owns a career record of 201-159 (.558) 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.

STORK STEERS THE MATADORS Lost in the shuffle of Campbell's 200th career win and McKniff's MPSF Player of the Week award was the play of sophomore setter Matt Stork. Stork set the Matadors to a season-high .476 hitting clip against No. 6 Long Beach then helped Northridge to a .345 clip at UC San Diego. For the week, Stork set the Matadors to a .401 hitting clip with 100 kills and just 23 errors in 192 swings. Stork is also getting it done on the defensive end as he is on pace to set career-highs in digs and blocks. Stork ranks third on the team in digs with 89 (1.85 dpg) and has 31 blocks (0.65 bpg). He also leads the Matadors with three double-doubles this season and narrowly missed his fourth with 42 assists and nine digs Friday against UCSD.

MATADORS AT NEAR MID-POINT Following last week's matches, the Matadors are approaching the mid-point of the MPSF season. Northridge has now played Long Beach State and UC San Diego twice and will play UC Irvine and UCLA for the second time this week. The Matadors have played 10 of 22 MPSF matches but have yet to play a two-match home series with Hawai'i (Mar. 5-6) and a two-match road series at BYU (Apr. 16-17).

NORTHRIDGE NOTES Senior libero Ali'i Keohohou had his streak of five straight matches with double figures in digs snapped when he recorded five against Pepperdine on Feb. 5. Since then Keohohou had a near-season low five digs against Long Beach State and seven at UC San Diego. For the season, the senior from Newbury Park is averaging 2.62 digs per game which ranks third in the MPSF ... Friday's win at UC San Diego gave Northridge 36 consecutive wins over the Tritons dating back to 1988. Campbell also improved his coaching record against UCSD to an unblemished 23-0 ... Since seeing their season-opening six-match win streak fall at the hands of UCLA, the Matadors have now won five of six matches.

SCOUTING UC IRVINE (7-8, 3-7 MPSF) The 11th-ranked Anteaters host the Matadors on Wednesday for their lone match of the week. UC Irvine split a pair of road matches last week defeating Pacific 3-1 before falling 3-1 at Stanford. Sophomore OPP Carson Clark leads the team and is second in the MPSF in kills (5.33) and is third in points (5.99). He leads the team and ranks seventh in the MPSF in aces with a 0.37 average. Jordan Dufault adds 4.07 kpg and 2.09 dpg. UCI ranks second in the MPSF in kills (15.66), assists (14.92) and hitting percentage (.337). The Anteaters are 2-2 in four matches in the Bren Center.

SCOUTING UCLA (7-6, 6-4 MPSF) The sixth-ranked Bruins host No. 8 UC Santa Barbara and the top-ranked Matadors this week. Last week UCLA lost in straight sets at Stanford before sweeping Pacific. The Bruins are 2-3 in five home matches this season. Senior OH Garrett Muagututia leads the Bruins in kills averaging 4.30 per game to go with 1.92 digs per game. Muagututia ranks ninth in the MPSF in kills per game. Sophomore OPP Jack Polales adds 3.81 kpg for the Bruins who are hitting .303 as a team. Setter Kevin Ker averages a team-high 10.60 assists per game.


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