If it’s mid-April, it must mean the CSUN Matador men’s volleyball team is embarking on another postseason run.
For the sixth straight year, the Matadors will compete in the Mountain-Pacific Sports Federation playoffs. This year, Northridge, seeded seventh in the MPSF playoffs will start in its own confines, as it hosts the eighth-seeded USC Trojans at the Matadome in the play-in round tonight at 7 p.m.
“Its going to be nice,” junior setter Travis Bluemling said. “It’s going to be nice to come back for one last (home) game,”
Both teams should be quite familiar with each other by now, as the Matadors and Trojans faced each other just four days ago at USC’s Lyon Center. The Matadors emerged victorious in four games, winning the first game 30-27 and recovering from a hard-fought game two loss in sudden death (33-31) to win the last games 30-18 and 30-27. Senior opposite Dan Rhodes led the way with a season-best 26 kills, while sophomore outside hitter Eric Vance had 13 kills. Juan Figueroa led the Trojans with 21 kills.
The first meeting at the Matadome back on Feb. 2 was no different from the most recent meeting, as the Matadors won the first game 30-28, then after losing the second game in sudden death (31-29), rebounded to win the last two games by scores of 30-27 and 30-21.
Senior middle blocker James Lischer was the main threat for the Matadors that night, as he smashed a game-high 19 kills.
Rhodes was not far behind with 17 kills. Freshman middle blocker Kevin McKniff knocked down 10 kills and Bluemling assisted 56 kills that night against the Trojans.
Throughout the year, the Matadome has been one of the loudest places on Earth for a men’s volleyball game. The team has a record of 11-4 at home this season. The Matadors have received tremendous support from a variety of CSUN sports teams as well as the student body, and the players expect no different for tonight’s game.
In fact, considering that its now playoff time, expect the noise at the Matadome to reach the “threshold of pain” category.
“Home is the best,” junior Isaac Kneubuhl said. “Our fans are unbelievable. They’re a huge reason why we win the games that we do, and it’s just a treat for all of us.”
The winner of Wednesday’s match will head up to Provo, Utah to face the second-seeded BYU Cougars on Saturday evening.
The Matadors finished the season 11-11 in the MPSF, and finished 17-14 in overall play.