The second-ranked CSUN Matador men’s volleyball team certainly wasn’t taking the Hope-International Royals lightly on Friday night.
?The Matadors jumped on the Royals early and often, and hardly gave them any chances to get into the match. Northridge won its 14th match in a row, sweeping Hope International decisively at the Matadome by scores of 30-22, 30-22 and 30-20.
?”(We wanted) to maintain and stay at a high level, and for the most part, we were able to do that,” head coach Jeff Campbell said.
CSUN was once again led by its outside hitters, as junior Eric Vance swung for 15 kills and senior Isaac Kneubuhl swung for 12 kills. Senior setter Travis Bluemling had 27 set assists and freshman setter Jeff Baxter followed with 15 assists.
Hope International was led by 11 kills from sophomore opposite Alex Figueriedo and 26 assists from freshman setter Daniel Pereira.
“You can never take them too lightly,” senior Travis Bluemling said of Hope International. “We still needed to play our best.”
CSUN led by as many as 11 points in game one and in game two, trailed briefly at 3-2 until they won the next four sets. Hope International got the ball back off a service error, but the Matadors again won four straight sets to take a 10-4 lead, forcing a Hope International timeout. The Matadors lead stayed around six for a while, the last time at 17-11 when Vance took over. Vance swung for a kill to make it a seven-point game, pinned Andrew Speth for another kill on the next set and aced on the ensuing serve to give CSUN a 20-11 lead. Hope International got no closer than seven the rest of game two.
Game three was more of the same. The Matadors won three straight to open up a 4-1 advantage, then after the Royals won two of three sets, the Matadors won four straight to take a 9-3 lead. Hope International won three of four, but CSUN answered again by winning four straight to take a 14-6 lead, forcing a Royals’ timeout. The Matador lead stayed around eight for the next nine sets, the last time at 19-11, but the Matadors once again won four straight sets to get its lead to double digits at 22-12. Hope International again got no closer than seven points and CSUN won the final three sets of game three to wrap up the match.
CSUN swung for a .528 hitting percentage, ended up with a .662 setting percentage and had nine total ace serves. CSUN’s sideout percentage also didn’t slide below 70 percent in any of the three games for the second straight match. The lowest CSUN got was at 71 percent in game one, but Northridge kicked it up the remaining two games, siding out at 90 percent in game two and 85 percent in game three.
“That’s something we strive for,” Campbell said of the sideout percentages.
CSUN hit the road this week for two tough road matches, starting with a trip to UC Irvine last night to face the defending champions, the ninth-ranked Anteaters. Details of that match were not available at pree time.
The Matadors head to Westwood to face the eighth-ranked UCLA Bruins on April 4.