2011 Matador Season Concludes Saturday at Fifth-Ranked Long Beach State

April 13, 2011

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Match #29

Northridge Matadors (7-21, 5-16 MPSF) at No. 5 Long Beach State 49ers (13-13, 11-10 MPSF)

Saturday, April 16, 2011 - 7 p.m. PDT

The Walter Pyramid - Long Beach, Calif.

Live Stats: GoMatadors.com (Gametracker)

Live Audio: none

Cal State Northridge (7-21, 5-16 MPSF) concludes a disappointing 2011 season this Saturday as the Matadors travel to No. 5 Long Beach State (13-13, 11-10 MPSF) at 7 p.m. CSUN's season will end short of the MPSF Tournament for the first time in nine years. The Matadors wrapped up the home season with a straight set win over No. 11 UC San Diego and a straight set loss to fouth-ranked UC Irvine last week. Northridge concluded one of their toughest seasons with a 4-9 record in The Matadome.  

Jeff Campbell is in his 14th season as head coach with 220 career wins, the most in Northridge men's volleyball history. With the Matadors' 3-0 win at Long Beach State on Jan. 15, 2010, Campbell won his 195th match became the winningest coach in CSUN men's volleyball history surpassing John Price (194-158) who coached the Matador men for 12 seasons. Campbell has averaged over 23 wins per season over the last three seasons and has led the Matadors to at least 18 wins every season since 2003.

Follow Matador volleyball online at the official online home of Cal State Northridge athletics, www.GoMatadors.com. All Matador home matches and a majority of road matches will be broadcast live via Gametracker. In addition, select home and road matches will feature live audio with Mark Schuermann handling the call. Fans can also follow the Matadors at Twitter.com/gomatadors and YouTube.com/northridgeathletics. Fans can also view and print the Matadors 2011 media guide online at GoMatadors.com. The guide features player information, photos, statistics and a complete men's volleyball history.

Junior Matt Stork continues to show that he is a standout all-around volleyball player. An All-MPSF setter in both 2009 and 2010, Stork is making a case to be considered one of the top outside hitters in the conference this season and next. Since moving to one of the starting outside hitter spots against Loyola on Mar. 9, Stork is averaging a team-high 4.51 kills per game while hitting .312. After Matador hitters reached double figures in kills 11 times in the first 18 matches this season, Stork has reached the double figure mark eight times in 10 matches. No CSUN hitter had more than 15 kills in a match until Stork struck for 18 against Loyola. Since then he has surpassed 20 on two occasions, including a season-high 24 kills at Pacific.

As was a foregone conclusion two weeks ago, the Matadors run of consecutive postseason appearances will end at nine. After a five-year absence (1997-2001), Northridge made it back to the MPSF Tournament in 2002 and has qualified each and every season from 2002-2010. 2002 was also the last season a Matador team failed to win more matches than they lost. The 13-16 record in 2002 capped a run of four-straight seasons that CSUN finished with a sub-.500 record. However, from 2003-2010, the Matadors won 162 matches, an average of just over 20 wins per season.

Having become Cal State Northridge men's volleyball's all-time winningest coach in 2010, Jeff Campbell will have to wait until the 2012 season for his next milestone win which would be No. 225. Campbell reached the 150 and 200 career wins over the last three seasons and will head into the 2012 season with at least 220 career victories. The 14th-year head coach has posted at least 10 wins in 12 of his 14 seasons on the bench and posted a career-best 24 wins in 2009.

Although he has been limited in recent matches by illness, sophomore middle blocker Drew Staker has made a case to be considered for All-MPSF honors. Staker, who currently leads the Matadors and ranks sixth in the conference in hitting percentage (.412), was hitting as high as .473 earlier this season. But late season struggles, which include zero kills in two of his last seven matches, have not dampened an otherwise solid sophomore season. Staker and freshman Greg Faulkner have combined to become a solid force in the middle in a season when CSUN had to replace first team AVCA All-Americans Kevin McKniff and Jacek Ratajczak.  

Senior Tanner Nua reached one milestone last week but is stuck in his chase of the other. Seven kills and one block against UC Irvine on Saturday put Nua over 1,000 points in his career (1,003.5) as he joined the list of players including Kevin McKniff (1,325.5 points), Mike Gaudino (1,163), Eric Vance (1,957), Isaac Kneubuhl (1,109), Dan Rhodes (1,335), Brian Waite (1,431) and Nils Nielsen (1,566) who have reached the 1,000 career points plateau in the last eight years. With his 17th ace of the season, which came against Hawai'i on Apr. 2, Nua moved within two aces of tying for ninth all-time. He will at least two matches at Long Beach State to etch his name alongside Matador greats Chad Strickland and Tom Ribarich who currently share ninth place with 90 career aces.

The Matadors were picked to finish 10th by the conference's coaches in the MPSF preseason poll which is exactly where CSUN could find itself after Saturday's season-finale. The Matadors (5-16 in conference) currently share 10th-place with Pacific (5-16) and UC San Diego (5-16), one-half game behind Pepperdine (5-15). A win at Long Beach State could propel Northridge as high an ninth-place depending on how the other three teams finish up. Pepperdine, which was picked to finish fourth in the preseason poll, host UC Santa Barbara and UCLA this week. Pacific, which took both regular season meetings with the Matadors for the first time since 2003, host Stanford while UC San Diego hosts UC Irvine in its season finale.

Sophomore Drew Staker and senior Kaleo Baxter are the only two Matador players to rank among the top-10 in the MPSF this week. Staker ranks sixth in hitting (.412) with 172 kills in 313 attacks with just 43 hitting errors. Baxter remains sixth in digs per game (2.27) after recording a career-best 186 digs in 82 games. Baxter is the highest ranked CSUN player in the NCAA stats as he ranks 13th in digs per game.

Several streaks have fallen for the Matadors in 2011, but the longest consecutive win streak over a team was kept intact. Thursday's 3-0 win over UC San Diego was CSUN's 39th straight over the Tritons dating back to January of 1988 ... Since the MPSF switched alignments in 2002, the Matadors have never finished below eighth. CSUN finished eighth in 2002, sixth in 2003, fifth in 2004, seventh in 2005, sixth in 2006, seventh in 2007, third in 2008, third in 2009 and tied for second in 2010. The Matadors finished seventh and last in the MPSF Mountain Division in 1999 when they posted a 2-17 conference record.

NORTHRIDGE (7-21, 5-16 MPSF) @ LONG BEACH STATE (13-13, 11-10 MPSF)
Saturday's match is the season-finale for the Matadors while fifth-ranked Long Beach State will be either the sixth or seventh seed in the MPSF Tournament next week. The Matadors and 49ers will meet for the second time this season and 65th time overall on Saturday with Long Beach holding a 34-30 edge in the all-time series. Northridge came back to upset then No. 2 Long Beach State in five sets on Feb. 11 in The Matadome. The Matadors have now won three straight and 10 of the last 12 matches between the two teams. The Matadors are 11-14 all-time against the 49ers in Long Beach. The Beach snapped a three-match losing streak with a 3-1 win over No. 11 UC San Diego last Saturday. Junior opposite Jim Baughman leads the 49ers in kills averaging 3.39 kpg while freshman outside hitter Taylor Crabb adds 2.49 kpg. Senior middle blocker Antwain Aguillard ranks third in the conference in blocking at 1.16 bpg. Long Beach State is hitting .276 as a team.

The Matadors' opened their final week at home with a complete effort as Northridge snapped a five-match winless streak with a straight set victory over No. 11 UC San Diego Thursday in The Matadome. Junior Matt Stork pounded a match-high 17 kills as he accounted for nearly half of Northridge's 35 kills. The junior from Topanga hit .382 in 34 swings while also posting two aces and seven digs. Senior Tanner Nua added six kills (.273) and Greg Faulkner chipped in five (.556). CSUN then looked to wrap up the home portion of the 2011 schedule on a winning note but fourth-ranked UC Irvine came into The Matadome and swept the Matadors 25-22, 25-17, 25-17 on senior night despite a match-high 17 kills from junior Matt Stork who had 17 kills while hitting .324 in 37 swings. Stork also had one of the Matadors' two aces and had two digs and two blocks. Senior Jeff Baxter started at setter and registered 17 assists in his one and only set while leading the Matadors to a .394 hitting clip.


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