Future looks bright despite postseason loss

Ivan Yeo

The seventh-seeded CSUN Matador men’s volleyball team certainly proved it could stay with the second-seeded BYU Cougars in its Mountain-Pacific Sports Federation quarterfinal matchup Saturday night.

However, trying to beat the Cougars in a single-elimination match, in Provo, Utah nonetheless, proved to be a daunting task, as the Cougars held off Northridge, ending the Matadors’ season with a three-game sweep by scores of 30-26, 30-28 and 30-26.

BYU set the tone for game one early, winning six of the first seven sets. CSUN got as close as two at 10-8 only to see the Cougars win five of six sets to take a 15-9 lead, which turned out to be the cushion BYU needed to win the first game. Game two started out the same, as the Cougars won the first three sets and held on to that lead during the early stages.

BYU then led 16-13, Northridge made its move, winning four of the next five sets to take a 17-16 lead. Northridge’s lead peaked at 25-22 until BYU came back with its own four of five sets to tie the game at 26. The Cougars then won the next two sets to take the lead and eventually won two of three sets to take game two. BYU led game three 11-5, Northridge came back to cut the Cougar lead to 15-14, but again, BYU got that one big run it needed, as it won six of the next seven sets to take a 21-15 lead. The Matadors fought on, but the Cougars proved to be too much, as they held on to the win and sealed its trip to Pepperdine for the MPSF semifinals.

Northridge finished its season with a record of 18-15. Saturday’s match turned out to be the final match for seniors Rhodes and middle blocker James Lischer, who had eight kills against the Cougars. With 388 kills for the 2007 season, Rhodes finishes his Matador career with 1,163 kills, which puts him in tenth place on CSUN’s career kills list. Lischer with 287 kills in 2007 finishes his Matador career with 782 kills.

Though Rhodes and Lischer will be missed, Northridge returns a solid group of players, led by Vance, Pederson, outside hitter Isaac Kneubuhl, who saw time at libero while filling in for Ali’i Keohouhou, who sat out most of the season with a broken leg. CSUN will also return setter Travis Bluemling, and freshmen outside hitter Mike Gaudino, middle blocker Kevin McKniff, junior middle blocker Kyle Waite, and sophomore opposite hitter Ryan Adams. All nine players contributed to the Matadors this season and all nine players should contribute a great deal to the Matadors in 2008.

Senior opposite hitter Dan Rhodes and sophomore outside hitter Eric Vance both had 15 kills apiece to pace the CSUN offense. Freshman setter Sean Pederson assisted 39 kills. BYU was led by Yolseyder Cala, who had 16 kills and Robby Stowell had 14 kills. Yamil Perez had 43 set assists.