With a big two-match weekend with the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine looming on March 16-17, the CSUN Matador men’s volleyball team has spent the last four matches preparing for its big weekend in the Aloha State.
The Quincy University Hawks became the Matadors’ fourth consecutive victim last Friday, sweeping the Hawks at the Matadome by scores of 30-20, 30-24 and 30-20.
“This was a big stepping stone to Hawaii next week,” sophomore Isaac Kneubuhl said.
Senior opposite Dan Rhodes led the way with 17 kills, sophomore outside hitter Eric Vance had 13 kills and freshman setter Sean Pederson had 34 set assists. Peter Coley had 11 kills, Eric Woolridge assisted 31 kills and Mike Contee had 10 digs.
“We played pretty well,” head coach Jeff Campbell said. “We had a little bit of a letdown in game two, but we played pretty well and I’m pretty happy with the effort.”
Game one was tied at four until the Matadors won the next three sets to lead 7-4 and forced a Quincy time out. The Hawks responded with three of the next four points to cut the Northridge lead to one and force a Matador time out. CSUN won three of the next four sets and led by as many as five during the match, the last at 23-18 until the Matadors won three straight sets to take a 26-18 lead. Northridge eventually won four of the next six points to take the match.
Game two was a little close. The Matadors won seven of eight sets to turn a 3-3 tie into a 10-4 lead. The Matadors held an 18-11 lead until the Hawks won four straight sets to force a Matador time out. Quincy won two more sets until Rhodes went off a Quincy block for a kill and Vance pinned Coley for a kill to stem the Hawks’ tide. A Matador service error and a Zach Splitt kill to the Matador back row cut the lead back to one. The two teams then traded the next six sets, until Vance smashed consecutive kills and freshman outside hitter Mike Gaudino came out of the back row for a kill to complete a three-point spurt that gave Northridge a 26-22 lead. The Matadors cruised from there.
In game three, CSUN held an early 6-5 lead and then won five straight sets to take an 11-5 lead. The Matadors continued their agressive play and jumped to a 16-8 lead. The Matadors’ last eight-point lead was at 18-10 until Quincy won the next four sets to force a CSUN time out. The Hawks got another point, but freshman middle blocker Kevin McKniff stopped the run with a kill and a Gaudino spike through a Quincy block capped off another three-point run that raised its lead back to eight at 23-15 and just like in game two, those three straight sets proved to be the difference as the Matadors cruised to the sweep.
With freshman libero Ali’I Keohohou out with a broken leg, the Matadors turned to Kneubuhl, usually one of the Matadors’ main weapons at outside hitter to fill the void. Kneubuhl had five digs and two assists against Quincy.
“We had to try some things and see what works,” Kneubuhl said.
The Matadors will have one more home match hosting the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders at the Matadome Wednesday night at 7 p.m.