March 2, 2009
After two impressive road wins last week, Cal State Northridge has earned the school's second-ever No. 1 national ranking while senior outside hitter Eric Vance has been named Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week and junior middle blocker Jacek Ratajczak was chosen MPSF Player of the Week on Monday.
The Matadors (13-2) jumped from the #4 ranking to the top spot in the Bison/AVCA national poll after defeating then-No. 1 Pepperdine in five sets and sweeping fifth-ranked USC last week. The No. 1 national ranking is the first for Cal State Northridge this season and second in school history. The Matadors also earned the top ranking in the country on Mar. 17, 2008. This week, Northridge earned 10 of a possible 16 first-place votes and 230 total points to edge UC Irvine (14-3) for the top spot.
Vance, a senior outside hitter from Camarillo, Calif., was certainly instrumental in the Matadors achieving the number one ranking. Vance had a co-team high 23 kills to go with 14 digs as Northridge upset No. 1 Pepperdine in five sets. He also two aces and two block assists as the Matadors won in Malibu for the first time in 13 years. Vance's double-double was his fifth of the 2009 season and 12th of his Northridge career. Against No. 5 USC, he pounded 18 kills while hitting .455 to go with four digs, two aces and one block assist. For the week, Vance hit .368 and averaged 5.12 kills, 2.25 digs and 5.81 points per game. This is the second time this season (Jan. 20) and the third time in his career (Feb. 25, 2008) that Vance has earned Sports Imports Division I-II Men's National Player of the Week honors. He is also the ninth athlete from Northridge to earn the award. The last Matador other than Vance to earn the distinction was Dan Rhodes on Feb. 20, 2006.
Ratajczak, a junior middle blocker from Warsaw Poland, also helped helped the Matadors the the historic win at Pepperdine as well as USC. Against the Waves, Ratajczak knocked down a career-high 17 kills with just one error in a career-best 24 attacks for a .667 hitting clip. He also added five blocks and three digs in the win. Against USC on Saturday, Ratajczak had 11 kills with one error in 17 swings to hit .588 as Northridge won its seventh straight overall and 13th in a row over the Trojans. He also had one ace, one dig and a pair of blocks. For the Week, Ratajczak averaged 3.50 kpg while hitting .634 in 41 swings. Ratajczak becomes the third Northridge player this season to win the conference's weekly award after Vance earned the honor on Jan. 12 and Jan. 19 and Matt Stork was chosen on Feb. 23.
Cal State Northridge opens up a season-long, seven-match homestand this Thursday, Mar. 5 as the Matadors host eighth-ranked BYU at 7 p.m.
- GO MATADORS -