MPSF Lead at Stake This Week as Matadors Travel to No. 1 Pepperdine and No. 5 USC

Feb. 24, 2009

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MPSF LEAD ON THE LINE THIS WEEK AS NORTHRIDGE VISITS NO. 1 PEPPERDINE AND NO. 5 USC Fourth-ranked Cal State Northridge (11-2, 7-2 MPSF) faces what may be its toughest road trip of the season as the Matadors travel to top-ranked Pepperdine (9-1, 8-1 MPSF) on Wednesday and fifth-ranked USC (10-3, 7-2 MPSF) on Saturday. Northridge, winners of five straight matches, improved to 6-0 at home this season after a 3-0 win over Pacific and a 3-1 victory over No. 7 Stanford last week. The Matadors trail MPSF-leading Pepperdine by just one game in the conference standings and are tied with USC for third place. Northridge trials 46-17 in the all-time series with Pepperdine but the Matadors defeated the Waves in their final match-up last season. Northridge trails 36-22 in the series with USC but has won the last 12 matches between the two teams.

NORTHRIDGE ON THE NET All Matador home matches and Saturday's match at USC will be available via Gametracker at GoMatadors.com. Wednesday's match will feature streaming video as well as live stats at pepperdinesports.com.

MATADORS SWEEP PACIFIC, DEFEAT STANFORD IN FOUR TO IMPROVE TO 6-0 AT HOME Fourth-ranked Cal State Northridge used a dominating serving and hitting effort to sweep the visiting Pacific Tigers, 30-14, 30-16, 30-18 Thursday at The Matadome. The Matadors broke the school's single-match record for team aces with 17 on Thursday as Tanner Nua and Eric Vance each had four, Theo Edwards added three, Kevin McKniff and Mike Gaudino each had two and Matt Stork and Jeff Baxter each added one. The previous record was held by the 1985 team who had 16 aces in three sets against Chapman and the 1990 squad who had 16 aces in four sets against San Diego State. On Friday, Vance had a match-high 28 kills and Nua added a career-high 22 as Northridge held off the upset bid of No. 7 Stanford, 36-34, 27-30, 31-21, 35-33. Vance led all hitters with 28 kills while hitting .355. The senior All-American also added 14 digs to complete his fourth double-double of the season.

NORTHRIDGE REMAINS FOURTH IN BOTH NATIONAL POLLS Despite a five-match win streak and wins over Pacific and No. 7 Stanford last week, the Matadors remained fourth for the fourth consecutive week in the Bison/AVCA Top 15 poll (Feb. 23). Northridge, which earned a season-high 223 points in both Jan. 19 and Jan. 26 polls, picked up an additional two points from last week to earn 197 points in this week's poll. Peppperdine (9-1) took over the top spot after Penn State lost at Loyola-Chicago last week. The Waves received 14 of 16 first-place votes while UC Irvine (12-3) is second followed by Penn State (11-1), the Matadors (11-2) and USC (10-3) rounds out this week's top five. Spots 6-10 are occupied by Long Beach State (7-4), Stanford (9-7), BYU (7-6), UCLA (7-8) and Lewis (10-2). Hawai'i (3-8), UC San Diego (6-8), UC Santa Barbara (4-9), Loyola-Chicago (7-3) and Ohio State (6-6) round out this week's top-15 teams.

NORTHRIDGE ALL-TIME AGAINST NO. 1's Since the 2000 season, the Matadors have taken on the team ranked atop the AVCA Top-15 poll 20 times. Northridge is 2-18 (.100) in those 20 matches with both wins coming in the course of two remarkable weeks in 2003. The 12th-ranked Matadors began the first week with their first-ever win over No. 11 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion (Feb. 5) and closed with Northridge upsetting No. 1 UC Irvine in four games at The Matadome (Feb. 7). The Matadors then traveled to Hawai'i where they knocked off the newly-named No. 1 Warriors in four sets on Feb. 13. It marked the first time in Northridge history that the Matadors defeated two different No. 1 teams in back-to-back matches. Last season, Northridge played a number one twice, dropping both matches at No. 1 BYU (Feb. 1-2).

ACES WILD FOR MATADORS The top serving team in the MPSF for the fourth straight week, Northridge served an astounding 29 aces in two matches last week to widen the gap between themselves and second place UC Irvine. The Matadors have now served 104 aces (2.21 per game), 14 more than the second place Anteaters. Should they keep up their current pace, the Matadors are on pace to serve more than 230 aces this season. The 1992 Northridge team holds the school record for aces in one season with 185. Eric Vance is the current MPSF leader in aces averaging 0.45 per game while sophomore Tanner Nua is second at 0.43.

HOME SWEET HOME After playing their last five matches in the comforts of The Matadome, the Matadors will play only two matches on the road over the next month. After matches at Pepperdine and USC this week, Northridge returns home to open up a season-long, seven-match homestand Mar.5 against BYU. The Matadors will not venture outside of Northridge city limits until Mar. 27 when the Matadors head to Northern California to take on Stanford and Pacific. Northridge won all five of its home matches in February.

STORK NAMED MPSF CO-PLAYER OF THE WEEK Freshman setter Matt Stork was named Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Co-Player of the Week after leading the fourth-ranked Matadors to conference wins over Pacific and No. 7 Stanford last week. Against Pacific, Stork posted 37 assists, one ace, three digs and two blocks as Northridge hit a season-high .526 in the three-set win. Against No. 7 Stanford, Stork had an MPSF season-high 81 assists in just four sets, including 29 assists alone in the decisive fourth set. He also added a career-high five aces, including four consecutive aces in a crucial six-point run in the third set. He also added a career-best eight digs as the Matadors won their fifth straight to remain undefeated at home. Stork, who now ranks second in the conference in assists (13.81 per game), shares this week's MPSF award with Pepperdine's Paul Carroll. Carroll was tabbed as Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week. This is Cal State Northridge's third MPSF Player of the Week award this season. Senior Eric Vance was honored on Jan. 12 as well as Jan. 19.

NORTHRIDGE NOTES Junior libero Ali'i Keohohou, who leads the Matadors and ranks third in the MPSF in digs, posted a career-high 21 in the four-set win over No. 7 Stanford on Friday ... Theo Edwards, who was sidelined for several weeks with flu-like symptoms, saw his first extensive playing time of the season against Pacific. Edwards responded with season-highs in kills (8), attacks (12), hitting (.417), aces (3), digs (1) and blocks (1) ... Tanner Nua's career-high 22 kills, along with three aces, led to him score a career-high 25.5 points in the Matadors' 3-1 win over Stanford on Friday.

SCOUTING THE WAVES Top-ranked Pepperdine comes into Wednesday's showdown with a 9-1 overall record and an 8-1 record in the MPSF. The Waves defeated No. 2 UC Irvine and No. 8 UCLA last week after suffering their only loss of the season at Stanford on Feb. 13. Pepperdine is led by senior OPP Paul Carroll who leads the MPSF averaging 6.31 kills per game. Carroll is the current Sports Imports/AVCA Player of the Week. Head Coach Marv Dunphy (Pepperdine, 1974) is in his 26th season at Pepperdine and sports a 478-185 overall and school record. Series Story: The Matadors trail 46-17 in the all-time series with the Waves. Northridge is 5-26 against Pepperdine in Malibu with the Matadors' last win in Firestone Fieldhouse coming in 1996.

SCOUTING THE TROJANS No. 5 USC, which hosts No. 13 UCSB on Thursday before entertaining the Matadors on Saturday, bring a 10-3 overall record and 7-2 MPSF record into this week's action. The Trojans dropped a tough five-set match to No. 2 UC Irvine before defeating No. 8 UCLA in four last week. Sophomore OH Murphy Troy leads USC and ranks fifth in the MPSF averaging 5.09 kills per game. Freshman OH Tony Ciarelli is second at 3.48 kpg while USC is hitting .309 as a team. Head Coach Bill Ferguson is in his third season at USC and boasts a 35-35 overall and school record. Series Story: The Matadors trail 36-22 in the all-time series with the Trojans but have won the last 12 matches between the two teams. Northridge is 8-14 all-time at USC but has met the Trojans only once in the Galen Center, winning in four sets last season.