MPSF Semifinal Clash With Pepperdine Awaits Matadors in Irvine

April 28, 2009

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MPSF SEMIFINAL MATCH WITH SECOND-SEED PEPPERDINE AWAITS THIRD-SEEDED MATADORS After taking care of the sixth-seed BYU Cougars in the MPSF quarterfinals on Saturday, third-seeded Cal State Northridge (24-6) travels to Irvine on Thursday to take on the second-seed Pepperdine Waves (21-4) in the semifinals of the MPSF Tournament. The Northridge-Pepperdine match is scheduled for 5 p.m. and will be followed by top-seeded UC Irvine (25-4) taking on the fifth-seed USC Trojans (18-10) 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first match. The two winners will meet for the MPSF Championship and the automatic berth into the NCAA Championships on Saturday, May 2. The Matadors, ranked third by the AVCA this week, are seeking their first berth in the MPSF Championship match since 1993 when the Northridge defeated Long Beach State 3-0.

NORTHRIDGE ON THE NET Thursday's MPSF Tournament semifinal match will be available via Gametracker at GoMatadors.com. The MPSF will also provide a live audio broadcast at:

MPSF Broadcast

MPSF TOURNAMENT TICKETS MPSF Tournament tickets are available through the Bren Events Center Box Office by calling (949) 824-5000. The cost is $15 for adults and $5 for youth/students per day. There are no all-tournament passes and seating at the Bren Center will be general admission. The box office opens 1 1/2 hours prior to each day of competition. There are no pass lists or complimentary tickets per MPSF policy.

MATADORS ADVANCE TO MPSF SEMIFINALS WITH FOUR-SET WIN OVER BYU Senior Eric Vance knocked down a match-high 21 kills to lead third-seeded Cal State Northridge to a 30-26, 30-24, 27-30, 30-27 win over sixth-seeded BYU in an MPSF quarterfinal match Saturday at The Matadome. Northridge also sets a school record with its 24th win of the season surpassing the 1993 and 2008 Matador teams who posted 23 wins. Vance overcame a slow start as the First Team All-MPSF pick had a match-high 21 kills to go with four digs, three blocks and one ace while hitting .311. Vance hit .100 in the Matadors' 30-26 set one win but rebounded to hit .556 in set two, .231 in set three and .385 in the fourth set. Juniors Jacek Ratajczak and Mike Gaudino both added 13 kills and fellow junior Kevin McKniff chipped in 12. All three hit well as Ratajczak posted a match-high .765 clip and Gaudino and McKniff both hit .500. Ratajczak also added seven blocks to his stat line. Setter Matt Stork posted 57 assists as the Matadors hit .354 as a team. Libero Ali'i Keohohou recorded a co-match-high 11 digs in the win.

MATADORS RANKED THIRD HEADING INTO MSPF SEMIFINALS After defeating No. 5 BYU in four sets in the MPSF quarterfinals, the Matadors dropped one spot to third in this week's Bison/AVCA Top 15 poll (Apr. 27). The Matadors, who are third for the fourth time in the past five weeks, received 212 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. UC Irvine (25-4) remained the top-ranked team for the third straight week after earning all 16 first-place votes and 240 total points. Pepperdine (21-4) overtook the Matadors for second this week by earning 219 total points while USC (18-10) moved up from seventh to fourth. Penn State (25-3) rounds out this week's top five teams, Stanford (21-11), BYU (17-13), Long Beach State (14-14), UCLA (14-16) and Ohio State (14-10) round out the top-10. UC San Diego (13-15), Lewis (21-7), Loyola-Chicago (17-9), Hawai'i (9-18) and UC Santa Barbara (8-19) round out this week's top-15 teams.

DOWN TO FOUR IN MPSF TOURNAMENT The four-team field of UC Irvine, Pepperdine, Northridge and USC will compete for the conference's automatic berth in to the the NCAA Championship. The host Anteaters earned the right to host the MPSF final four by winning the regular season and defeating UCLA in four sets on Saturday. USC, the number five seed, was the only team to upset a higher seeded team in the quarterfinals as the Trojans knocked off No. 4 seed Stanford in five sets. UC Irvine comes into Thursday's semifinal matches with the longest current win streak at six. The Matadors come into Thursday's match having won eight of their last 11 matches.

MATADORS MATCH SCHOOL RECORD WITH FIVE ALL-MPSF SELECTIONS Cal State Northridge matched a school record with five All-MPSF selections, led by two-time First Team honoree Eric Vance, as the all-conference team was announced by the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation on Apr. 23. With five selections to the All-MPSF squad, the 2009 Matadors match the 2004 and 2008 Northridge teams which also had five players named All-MPSF. Vance became the first Matador player to be named to the All-MPSF First Team in back-to-back seasons since the inception of the MPSF in 1993. Coley Kyman was a unanimous First Team All-WIVA pick in 1992 and was a First Team All-MPSF selection in 1993. Also named to the 2009 all-conference team were junior Jacek Ratajczak (Second Team), freshman Matt Stork (Third Team), junior Kevin McKniff (Third Team) and junior Ali'i Keohohou (Honorable Mention). Stork was also named setter on the seven-player MPSF All-Freshman Team.

NORTHRIDGE IN THE MPSF TOURNAMENT The Matadors are making their eighth consecutive trip and 12th trip overall to the MPSF Tournament. With Saturday's win over BYU, Northridge has earned its third trip to the conference semifinals since 2005 when the Matadors lost in four sets at Pepperdine after upsetting No. 2 UCLA in the quarterfinals. Last season, Northridge defeated Stanford in the quarters before falling to second-seeded BYU in the semifinals at Long Beach State. Saturday's win over BYU was the Matadors' first in four postseason matches against the Cougars and Northridge improved to 5-7 in MPSF Tournament matches under Jeff Campbell. The Matadors have now won their last four postseason home matches.

A CLOSER LOOK AT NORTHRIDGE-PEPPERDINE The Waves have proven to be a thorn in the side of Matadors in the postseason. Pepperdine and Northridge have met in either the WIVA or MPSF Tournament seven times since the 1990 season with the Waves holding a 5-2 edge. Pepperdine knocked the Matadors out of the MPSF Tournament three straight seasons from 2004 through 2006 but all three of the matches were played on the Waves' home court. Northridge is 2-1 against Pepperdine in the postseason on neutral courts.

NORTHRIDGE SETS WIN RECORDS The Matadors won their school record 24th match of the season with Saturday's win over BYU. Northridge also wound up the home season with a school-record 14 home wins. The home winning percentage of .875 (14-2) trails only the 1991 team (.929, 13-1) and the 2008 team (.923, 12-1) in school history.

SCOUTING THE WAVES Second-ranked and second-seeded Pepperdine comes into Thursday's MPSF quarterfinal match with an overall record of 21-4. The Waves advanced to the conference semifinals with a four-set home win over No. 7 seed Long Beach State. MPSF Player of the Year Paul Carroll posted 19 kills (.366) and picked up seven blocks. Tyler Jaynes added 10 kills (.600) and nine blocks. Pepperdine dominated the net with a 17.5-4.0 block advantage. Marv Dunphy (Pepperdine, 1974) is in his 26th season as head coach at Pepperdine and sports a 490-188 overall and school record. Series Story: The Matadors trail 47-18 in the all-time series with the Waves but have beaten Pepperdine twice in the last three matches. Northridge held off the Waves in five sets (30-24, 30-22, 33-35, 26-30, 15-12) on Feb. 25 in Malibu but fell short in its comeback (28-30, 29-31, 30-28, 37-35, 12-15) at home on Apr. 1. The Matadors are 2-2 all-time against Pepperdine on neutral courts.

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