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

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Seventh-ranked Matadors sweep sixth-ranked Stanford

Seven proved to be a lucky number for the seventh-ranked Matadors in their season home opener Thursday night.

Freshman opposite Tanner Nua served up seven aces and knocked down seven kills to fuel the Matadors’ sweep against sixth-ranked Stanford 30-25, 31-29, 30-24. Junior outside hitter Eric Vance had a game-high 15 kills in the match to follow-up his career-high 26 kills last week against UC Santa Barbara.

“Vance has been hitting well,” said head coach Jeff Campbell. “He played steady enough for us to win and our middles hit for a high percentage, which is good. Tanner Nua served extraordinarily well tonight.”

As a team, the Matadors outhit Stanford, .323 to .144. Sophomore outside hitter Mike Gaudino had eight kills, while freshman opposite Cody Loe and sophomore middle blocker Kevin McKniff matched Nua’s kills with seven each. Senior setter Travis Blueming had 36 assists and sophomore libero Ali’i Keohohou had 10 digs.

“Our serving was much better than it has been in the past,” said Loe. “We were confident, we were going for it.”

For Stanford, sophomore opposite Evan Romero led the Cardinal with 14 kills, followed by junior outside hitter Jesse Meredith with 9. Romero also had 10 kills for a double-double. Sophomore setter Kawika Shoji had 27 assists.

In game one, the Matadors were ahead early after a few kills by Gaudino and Vance. However, errors by CSUN allowed Stanford to tie the score at 10. The teams traded points and the Cardinal took a 17-16 lead on a kill by Meredith. The lead was short-lived as a Stanford serving error put Nua at the service line and CSUN went on a run, scoring six points for a 23-17 lead. Stanford closed in on the lead, but couldn’t overcome the deficit. Errors by the Cardinal and kills by Gaudino and Vance put the game away at 30-25.

The second game didn’t start well for the Matadors as a 10-5 Stanford lead resulted in a timeout by CSUN. Nua and Vance came back with kills to win the next two points and shorten the lead. Nua was again at the service line when the Matadors won five straight points to take the lead 16-12. The game stayed close until three consecutive kills by Romero put Stanford ahead 19-18. A timeout by the Matadors didn’t stop the Stanford scoring spree, however, as the Cardinal pulled away to a 23-19 lead before McKniff stopped it with a kill. Stanford errors and another kill from McKniff put the Matadors within one at 26-25. Nua stepped up to the line and delivered a service ace to tie the game at 26. The game remained close, but consecutive kills by Gaudino and a final attack error by Stanford gave the Matadors a 31-29 win.

Game three was dominated by the Matadors after Stanford led just once, at 1-0. Six kills by Vance and three by McKniff helped push the lead to as many as eight before Stanford could fight back to 23-18, forcing a timeout by the Matadors. Loe knocked down a kill to give Nua the serve and Nua delivered two more service aces to extend the lead to 27-18. The Cardinal started to close the gap, but a service error ended their run and gave CSUN the sweep, 30-24.

“It was a good win and this league is so tough that any win against any of the teams is a good win,” Campbell said. “To be 3-1 at this point in the season, we’re very happy.”

Campbell also acknowledged that it was still early in conference play and there is still room for improvement.

“We’re excited about where we’re at and we feel we have a very good team that’s capable of really playing well and I think, at times, we played well tonight,” Campbell said.

Loe echoed his coach’s comments.

“We have a long way to go to become the national championship team,” Loe said. “We have to be louder on the court. We have to have more fire. Our passing has to be a little bit more solid and our serving has to be even better. So, we have a long way to go, but we can do it. ”

The win improved CSUN’s record to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in MPSF conference play, the Matadors best start since 1996. Stanford drops to 5-3 overall and 2-3 in conference. The Matadors continued their home stand on Friday, playing University of the Pacific at 7 p.m. at the Matadome. Results were not available at press time. Details of the game will appear in Tuesday’s issue of the Sundial.

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