April 30, 2010

Matadors Take on Stanford Seeking First MPSF Title Since 1993

April 30, 2010

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MATADOR VOLLEYBALL THIS WEEK

MPSF Tournament - Final

No. 3 Northridge (23-8) vs. No. 1 Stanford (21-6)

Saturday, May 1, 2010 - 7 p.m. PDT

Maples Pavilion (7,223) - Stanford, Calif.

Live Stats: GoStanford.com

Live Webcast: GoStanford.com

FOR STARTERS Coming off a thrilling five-set win over second-seeded BYU in the semifinals, Cal State Northridge (23-8) takes aim at its first MPSF Tournament championship since 1993 as the Matadors take on top-seeded Stanford (21-6) Saturday at 7 p.m. at Maples Pavilion. The Matadors, seeded third, advanced to the final after taking the final two sets over the Cougars on Thursday. Stanford advanced with a straight set win over fourth-seeded Hawai'i. The winner of Saturday's match claims the 2010 MPSF Championship and the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

SERIES HISTORY Saturday's match is the 58th meeting all-time between Northridge and Stanford. The Matadors trail 32-25 in the series but have claimed seven of the last eight matches. The lone loss in that stretch was a four-set loss to the Cardinal at Maples Pavilion in 2009. Northridge is the only MPSF team to beat Stanford twice this season as the Matadors won in five sets at Stanford on Jan. 29 and then won in four in The Matadome on Apr. 2. Northridge has had success at Maples Pavilion beating the Cardinal this season as well as in 2007. The Matadors and Stanford played at Burnham Pavilion from 2004-06 and in 2008.

TO RECAP Cal State Northridge advanced to its first MPSF Championship match in 17 years as the Matadors topped second-seeded BYU 26-30, 30-25, 28-30, 30-16, 15-12 Thursday evening at Maples Pavilion. Senior Theo Edwards paced the Matadors with 16 kills in the win. Edwards knocked down a team-high 16 kills for the Matadors (23-8), 14 coming over the final four sets. Kevin McKniff (.462), Jacek Ratajczak (.379) and John Baker (.250) each added 15 kills in the win. Northridge overcame a slow start to hit .274 (70-25-164) as a team as Matt Stork dished out 61 assists to go with seven digs, two aces and three blocks. Edwards completed his third double-double of the season by adding 13 digs which matched Ali'i Keohohou for team-high honors.

NORTHRIDGE IN THE MPSF TOURNAMENT This postseason marks the Matadors' ninth consecutive trip and 13th trip overall to the MPSF Tournament. Prior to Thursday, Northridge had not advanced past the semifinals since the 1993 season when the Matadors upset Long Beach State in the final. Since the MPSF realigned to its current format in 2002, Northridge had advanced to the conference semifinals four times but lost each time. In 2005, Northridge lost at Pepperdine in four sets. BYU knocked the Matadors out in 2008 winning in three before Pepperdine eliminated Northridge last season in four sets at UC Irvine. This season's quarterfinal win over USC was the Matadors' fourth straight postseason win at home and Thursday's semifinal win over BYU improved Northridge to 7-8 in the postseason in Jeff Campbell's tenure as head coach.

MPSF TOURNAMENT DOWN TO TWO AS NCAA TOURNAMENT LOOMS The eight-team MPSF Tournament is down to two as top-seeded Stanford and the third seeded Matadors square off on Saturday for the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Championships. The NCAA Final Four will also take place at Stanford's Maples Pavilion on May 6-8 featuring the champions from the MPSF, MIVA and EIVA along with one at-large team. The Matadors, who spent three weeks as the number one team in the country, all but assured themselves of at least an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament after defeating BYU on Thursday. An MPSF team has received the at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament every season since 1994.

A CLOSER LOOK AT CSUN-STANFORD The Matadors and Cardinal will meet for the third time this season on Saturday. Northridge has outhit the Cardinal .345-.264 in the two wins. Stanford is the national leader in hitting at .350 but hit just .264 in the two losses to the Matadors. Northridge also out-blocked the Cardinal by a margin of 29.5-15.5. Stanford is 14-2 at home this season while Northridge is 12-5 in road matches which includes a perfect 3-0 record in neutral site matches. Theo Edwards averaged 4.22 kpg while hitting .403 and middles Jacek Ratajczak and Kevin McKniff both hit .469 in two matches against the Cardinal.

MCKNIFF, RATAJCZAK EARN FIRST TEAM AVCA ALL-AMERICAN HONORS The senior middle blocking duo of Kevin McKniff and Jacek Ratajczak were both named to the first team as the 2010 AVCA Division I-II Men's Volleyball All-America Team was announced by the American Volleyball Coaches Association on Thursday, Apr. 29. McKniff and Ratajczak join Eric Vance (2008, 2009), Coley Kyman (1991, 1993), Doug English (2003), Joe Nargi (2003), Chad Strickland (1997) and Neil Coffman (1991) on the list of Cal State Northridge's AVCA First Team All-Americans. The Matadors also had two players named to the AVCA first team for the first time since Coffman and Kyman in 1991.

"Kevin and Jack both have had fantastic years," said head coach Jeff Campbell. "Some of the closest matches we've played in, and won, were because of the way Jack and Kevin played. What's impressive about these two guys is that everybody in the gym knows that they're getting the ball yet they still attack the ball at very high percentage."

QUARTET OF MATADORS NAMED TO ALL-MPSF SQUAD Led by first team selections Kevin McKniff and Jacek Ratajczak, Cal State Northridge had four players named to the 2010 All-MPSF Men's Volleyball team announced Thursday, Apr. 22 by the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. McKniff and Ratajczak both earned first team honors for the first time in their careers while senior Mike Gaudino and sophomore Matt Stork both earned honorable mention accolades. This season marked the first time in Northridge men's volleyball history that two Matadors have earned first team All-MPSF honors.

NORTHRIDGE NOTES Theo Edwards and John Baker combined for 31 kills against BYU while middles Jacek Ratajczak and Kevin McKniff combined for 30. Edward's 16 kills is his highest total since putting down 19 against UCSB on Apr. 7. For Baker it was his best hitting output since knocking down 18 kills also against the Gauchos. Baker hit .250 against the Cougars on Thursday after hitting a combined .108 over his last five matches ... Edwards' double-double (16 kills, 13 digs) was his third of the season and his second in his last six matches. His 13 digs was a career-high ... The Matadors' 70 kills against BYU was their highest total since putting down 80 against UCSB on Apr. 7. Northridge also had 70 in its four-set win over Stanford on Apr. 2 ... The Matadors did not have a service ace through three sets against BYU but had four over the final two sets, two by Matt Stork ... Jim Wielebnicki, the lone sub Campbell used against BYU, appeared in his sixth straight match and has now played in 10 of the Matadors last 13 matches. He did not record a stat against BYU after posting 20 digs over his last six matches ... Northridge improved to a perfect 20-0 this season when the Matadors win the hitting percentage battle. Northridge out-hit BYU .274 to .165.

NORTHRIDGE RANKED THIRD IN FINAL REGULAR SEASON AVCA TOP-15 POLL Following a two-match split at No. 2 BYU on Apr. 16-17, Cal State Northridge solidified its hold on third in the final regular season AVCA Coaches Top-15 Poll. The final poll of the 2010 season will be released May 10. Northridge, which received a season-high 237 points on Feb. 1, earned 210 points in the latest poll and have now been ranked third in consecutive weeks and seven times this season. Stanford remained number one for the sixth straight week earning 13 of 16 first-place votes. BYU remained second picking up two first-place votes followed by Northridge, Hawai'i and Pepperdine. USC is sixth followed by UCLA, UC Irvine in seventh, UC Santa Barbara is ninth and Ohio State moved into 10th. Long Beach State slips to 11th followed by Penn State, Ball State, UC San Diego and Loyola-Chicago rounds out this week's top 15. Northridge has now been ranked in the AVCA Top-15 for 149 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 three number one rankings this season, Northridge has spent a total of six weeks as the number one team in its history.

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