The fourth-ranked CSUN men’s volleyball team spent its weekend in the Windy City blowing away its competition.
The Matadors held off a fierce comeback attempt to defeat 12th ranked Loyola-Chicago in five games on Friday night, then swept Lewis College the next night to complete a successful trip to Chicago.
The Matadors won the first two games against the Ramblers, both by scores of 30-22. Loyola-Chicago extended the match with a 30-26 game three win, then stayed within sight of the Matadors in game four, forcing sudden death and going up 30-29 on a kill by Krisjanis Berzins. CSUN tied the game on the next set, but a kill by sophomore George Kamberos followed by a service ace by junior outside hitter Joe Guntil gave the Ramblers a 32-30 win, forcing the fifth and final game.
“We played well the first two games, but we kind of let up a little bit,” said head coach Jeff Campbell. “They had a different lineup and they started playing very well.”
Game five was hotly contested. The score was tied at 11 until consecutive kills by senior outside hitter Isaac Kneubuhl gave the Matadors a 13-11 win. The Matadors won two of the final three sets, the last point on a kill by junior outside hitter Eric Vance, to wrap up the match.
“It was a battle,” Campbell said. “We hadn’t won a game five up until that point, so it was really good for us to get that monkey off our back.”
Vance finished with 24 kills while Kneubuhl swung for 19 kills. Sophomore middle blocker Kevin McKniff had 15 kills and freshman middle blocker Cody Loe had 11 kills. Senior setter Travis Bluemling had 65 set assists and sophomore libero Ali’I Keohouhou had 11 digs.
For the Ramblers, Berzins swung for a team-high 18 kills, Ramberos had 15 kills, Guntil added 10 kills and freshman setter Mike Hutz had 56 assists.
The Matadors’ next game with Lewis College was a little shorter, though Lewis did make them work for it. The first game was close all the way, going into sudden death until kills by Vance and Loe gave CSUN a 31-29 win.
“They played well, we played well, and we were very fortunate to get out of the first game with a win,” Campbell said.
The next two games were a little easier for the Matadors from there on, as they won by scores of 30-23. Vance swung for a team high 16 kills, Kneubuhl and Loe both swung for 11 kills apiece, Bluemling had 46 set assists and Keohouhou had 13 digs.
“The second and third games, we started out well and really caught fire with our serving,” Campbell said.
Lewis’ senior outside hitter Jared Dayton swung for a team-high nine kills and sophomore setter Mike Iandolo had 22 set assists.
With the two wins, the Matadors improve to 10-4 on the season.
Northridge returns home to resume Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play, starting Wednesday night with a match against the defending national champions, sixth-ranked UC Irvine, followed by a match with the fifth-ranked UCLA Bruins on Friday. Both matches are at the Matadome and start at 7 p.m.