The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

Got a tip? Have something you need to tell us? Contact us

Loading Recent Classifieds...

Matadors advanced to the quarterfinals after defeating USC

It was slipping away for the CSUN Matador men’s volleyball team.

In game one of its Mountain-Pacific Sports Federation playoff matchup with the USC Trojans on Feb. 18 at the Matadome, the Trojans just ripped off seven straight points and eight of nine sets overall to take a seemingly insurmountable 24-13 lead.

However, rather than fold up the tents, Northridge instead made a huge comeback and ultimately tied the score late in the game. Then, with USC at game point, CSUN again came back, this forces sudden death and ultimately came away with an improbable win, setting the stage for the Matadors sweep of the Trojans by scores of 36-34, 30-23 and 30-28, opening up the MPSF playoffs in grand fashion.

“It showed a lot of heart and a lot of desire to come back like that and win,” head coach Jeff Campbell said.

CSUN’s win now sends them into the quarterfinals of the MPSF tournament, where they will face the Brigham Young Cougars in Provo, Utah on Saturday at 6 p.m. PST. The Matadors split their two matches with BYU this season, so they will have some confidence heading into Saturday.

“Its going to be tough, but I think we’ll have a good time,” Lischer said.

CSUN started its comeback by winning three straight sets to force a Trojan time out, then a Trojan attack went into the net and a net violation forced another USC time out.

The Matadors got another point after the break on a stuff block by senior middle blocker James Lischer and sophomore outside hitter Eric Vance that cut the Trojan lead to 24-19. USC briefly weathered the storm by winning three of the next four sets to lead 27-20 – that was, until the Matadors caught fire.

The Matadors got the ball back on a net serve by Trojan C.J. Schellenberg, followed by back-to-back service aces by Vance. Freshman outside hitter Mike Gaudino smashed a kill. Then, following another Trojan hitting error, Gaudino smashed another kill to cap off a seven-point run that tied the game at 27.

USC got the ball back on a service error, and an ace serve by Trojan Juan Figueroa put USC at game point 29-27, but the Matadors responded once again.

Senior opposite hitter Dan Rhodes went off a Trojan block for a kill, then a stuff-block by junior middle blocker Kyle Waite and freshman setter Sean Pederson forced sudden death. Waite then spiked a kill to put CSUN at game point, but USC’s Andrew Vernon and Jimmy Killan denied Vance’s hit on the next set to stay alive. The Trojans stayed alive four more times in the first game, then Vance spiked one off Trojan Chris Roche and a Matador stuff block capped off Northridge’s improbable comeback win in game one.

“I never thought we were going to lose, that never came into my head.” Campbell said. “Once you start getting on a roll and affecting the other team, that’s when you start believing you’re going to win.”

The Matadors looked to carry the momentum into game two. Northridge held a slim 10-9 lead until CSUN won the next three sets to take a 13-9 lead, forcing a USC time out. The Matadors were just getting started, as they won four straight sets to take a 17-9 lead. The Trojans won consecutive sets after the Matador surge, but Northridge won three straight sets to rebuild its lead back to eight at 19-11. The closest USC got after that was six at 21-15, but kills by Rhodes and Vance and a Trojan hitting error raised the Matador lead to nine at 24-15, the biggest of game two. CSUN cruised from there, winning game two to take a two-games-to-none lead.

Game three was much closer. CSUN held an early 5-4 lead until the Trojans won three straight sets to take a 7-5 lead. USC led 10-9 until the Matadors won three straight sets to take a 12-10 lead, forcing a Trojan time out. Northridge got another point off a Waite roof block, but USC won three of the next four sets to cut the lead to 14-13. Vance went off a Trojan block to stop the run, but the Trojans made their move, winning the next three sets to take a 16-15 lead, forcing a CSUN time out.

USC won three of four following the break to lead 19-16, though the Matadors never let the Trojans out of their sight completely. Then, trailing 21-19, Lischer smashed a kill and a Trojan hit went long, tying the game. A Schellenberg kill gave USC the lead back, but Vance tied the game and Waite nearly put a dent in the Matadome floor with a vicious spike into open Trojan territory to give CSUN a 23-22 lead, forcing a USC time out.

Schellenberg tied the game, but saw his attack on the next set go out of bounds. Gaudino picked up an ace serve to give CSUN a 25-23 lead. USC got the ball back on a two-hit violation, but Rhodes and Waite returned Figueroa’s attack and Lischer picked up another roof block to give Northridge a 27-24 lead. USC won consecutive sets to cut the lead to one, forcing a CSUN time out, but Vance stopped the short run with a spike off a Trojan block. USC’s Matt Mosko successfully guided a tipped ball into open Matador territory, but a Lischer kill put CSUN at match point. A Matador net violation kept USC alive, but Lischer and Gaudino sealed the deal for Northridge, as he sent back a Trojan attack to wrap up the sweep and a wild and exciting night.

“Once we won that (first) game, we knew there was no stopping us from there on,” Rhodes said. “We got on a roll, we grooved, all our hitters were connecting, setting was great, so it was a good night for us.”

Rhodes led the way with 19 kills while Vance had 14 kills and 10 digs. Lischer picked u p 11 kills, Pederson had 43 set assists and junior libero Isaac Kneubuhl had 11 digs. Figueroa led USC with 15 kills, Schellenberg had 11 kills and Matt Anderson had 10 kills. Killan had 39 assists and Luke Morris had 15 digs.

Solid fan support as well as a loud and vocal cheering section once again backed the Matadors. The fans went on an emotional roller coaster run in game one, as the Matadome turned into a library when USC jumped out to its huge lead, but got louder and louder as the Matadors chipped away at the lead and ultimately exploded when the Matadors came away with the win.

Once again, the student athletes carried the bulk of the support, as members of the women’s volleyball team, men’s and women’s soccer and basketball teams, and women’s water polo and softball teams came out to support the Matadors. Also in the stands were men’s basketball head coach Bobby Braswell and his family, as well as the coaching staff. Also in attendance were the women’s basketball coaching staff and swimming head coach Barry Schreifels.

“Our fans were the reason we won again,” Kneubuhl said.

More to Discover