Third-Ranked Matadors Travel to No. 13 UCSB For MPSF Tournament Tune-Up

April 14, 2009

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REGULAR SEASON CONCLUDES FRIDAY AT No. 13 UC SANTA BARBARA Third-ranked Cal State Northridge (22-6, 15-6 MPSF) wraps up the regular season this Friday as the Matadors travel to No. 13 UC Santa Barbara (8-18, 4-17 MPSF) for a final tuneup before the MPSF Tournament opens Apr. 25. Northridge split its penultimate road trip last week, winning in four sets at No. 10 UC San Diego but falling in four at No. 8 Long Beach State. The Matadors are assured of either a third or fourth seed in the conference tournament depending on Friday's match and the results of Stanford's home matches against top-ranked UC Irvine and No. 9 UCLA.

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

MATADORS TOP NO. 10 UC SAN DIEGO IN FOUR BEFORE FALLING AT NO. 8 LONG BEACH STATE Senior Eric Vance posted a team-high 22 kills to lead five Northridge hitters in double figures as the third-ranked Matadors held off No. 10 UC San Diego 30-26, 29-31, 30-22, 38-36. On a night when several Matador hitters struggled, Vance came through with a team-high 22 kills while hitting .315. He also added a match-high three aces to move within six of the Northridge career record. Junior Theo Edwards came off the bench and put down 11 kills in a season-high 25 swings (.280). Jacek Ratajczak (.533), Kevin McKniff (.444) and Mike Gaudino (.034) each chipped in 10 kills. Then in their second match in as many nights, Vance had a team-high 23 kills but Northridge was upset in four sets, 34-32, 30-25, 23-30, 30-25 by eighth-ranked Long Beach State on Saturday. Vance's 23 kills (.259) was more than enough to lead the Matadors as no other Northridge hitter had more than eight kills. Matador middles Kevin McKniff (.412) and Jacek Ratajczak (.158) each added eight kills to the Northridge cause but the Matadors were out-hit for the first time this season. Northridge wound up hitting .210 as a team while Long Beach hit .227.

MATADORS REMAIN THIRD IN AVCA TOP-15 After splitting matches at UC San Diego and Long Beach State last week, Northridge remained third in this week's Bison/AVCA Top 15 poll (Apr. 13). The Matadors, who are third for the third straight week, received 197 points in this week's poll. Northridge earned season-high 234 points on Mar. 9 when the Matadors were ranked number one for the second time this season. Northridge hadn't received less than 200 points since the Feb. 23 poll. UC Irvine (240) wrestled the top spot away from Pepperdine (19-3) after knocking off the Waves in three sets last week. The Anteaters garnered all 16 first-place votes and 240 total points this week. took over the top spot this week. Northridge is third followed by Stanford (20-9) and USC (16-9). Spots 6-10 are occupied by BYU (16-11), Penn State (23-3), Long Beach State (13-13), UCLA (13-14) and UC San Diego (12-14). Ohio State (13-9), Lewis (20-6), UC Santa Barbara (8-18), Hawai'i (8-17), Ball State (15-8) and Loyola-Chicago (14-9) round out this week's top-15 teams.

MATADORS CLINCH MPSF QUARTERFINAL MATCH The Matadors, currently third in the MPSF standings, can finish no lower than fourth depending on this week's matches. A Northridge win over UC Santa Barbara on Friday guarantees the Matadors third place and the third seed in the MPSF Tournament. A Northridge loss combined with Stanford wins over UC Irvine and UCLA would give the Cardinal the third seed with the Matadors dropping to fourth. The most likely scenario has Northridge hosting either BYU, USC or Stanford in an MPSF quarterfinal match on Apr. 25.

NORTHRIDGE SETS SCHOOL SERVING RECORD With 206 service aces, the Matadors have obliterated the Northridge single season team record. The 1992 squad previously held the record with 185. Three Matadors on the `92 team had at least 20 aces, led by Axel Hager's 44. This season, six players have at least 20 aces, led by Eric Vance's 50. Northridge also made a run at the school record for hitting percentage of .358 set in 1993. The Matadors, who have led the NCAA in hitting several times this season, are currently hitting .330 with one regular season match to go. With a win Friday at UCSB, Northridge can also match the 1993 and 2008 squads for most wins in a season with 23.

VANCE DOUBLES UP AGAINST UCSD Senior Eric Vance picked up his eighth double-double of the season and 15th of his career with 22 kills and 11 digs against UC San Diego on Friday. He narrowly missed another with 23 kills and eight digs the next night against Long Beach State. Vance had five double-double's in the Matadors' first 22 matches of the season but now has three double-double's in Northridge's last six matches.

CAREER AND SEASON RECORDS Junior libero Ali'i Keohohou moved into ninth-place in career digs with 583 surpassing Raphael Tulino (581). His digs per game average of 2.26 currently ranks third. With 280 digs this season, Keohohou moved into second on the Matador single season charts. Kevin McKniff's career hitting percentage stands at .427 which currently ranks third all-time and the junior moved into seventh in career block assists with 252. Jacek Ratajczak's .459 hitting clip is currently second on the season charts. Mike Gaudino's 94 career aces are good for fourth all-time and with six more aces would become just the fourth player in Matador history with at least 100 career aces. Senior Eric Vance continues to cement his name in Northridge lore. Vance is now just six aces shy of becoming the all-time Matador leader in service aces. Eckhard Walter has held the top spot since 2002 with 183 career aces but Vance is closing quickly with 177. He also ranks third in total attempts (3,468), fifth in kills (1,596) and is sixth in career digs with 663.

NORTHRIDGE NOTEBOOK Saturday's match at Long Beach State was the first time this season that the Matadors have been out-hit (percentage-wise) in a match. The 49ers hit .227 to .210 for Northridge spoiling a run of 27 consecutive matches that the Matadors held a hitting edge ... Northridge has not dropped more than two matches in any month this season and posted a perfect 7-0 record in February ... the Matadors are 13-0 in three-set matches ... head coach Jeff Campbell improved to a perfect 22-0 against UC San Diego. Campbell is also just 12 wins away from 200 in his career.

SCOUTING THE GAUCHOS 13th-ranked UC Santa Barbara comes into Friday's match with an 8-18 overall record and the Gauchos are 4-17 in the MPSF. UCSB has dropped its last five matches including a 3-1 loss at Long Beach State and a 3-2 loss at UC San Diego last week. The Gauchos are led sophomore OH Jeff Menzel who averages a team-high 5.30 kpg which ranks fourth in the MPSF. Junior OPP Jake Roesner adds 2.71 kpg for UCSB which is hitting .257 as a team. Rick McLaughlin Kevin Ring (Loyola Marymount, 1990) is in his first season as head coach at UC Santa Barbara and sports an 8-18 overall and school record. Series Story: The Matadors trail 42-32 in the all-time series with the Gauchos but have claimed the last five matches between the two teams. Northridge defeated the Gauchos in four sets in the season-opening Elephant Bar Invitational and then swept UCSB in Northridge on Jan. 23.


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