The Matadors return to Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) play this Friday and Saturday night against No.1 Stanford and Pacific at the Matadome for the start of a four-match homestand after playing three non-conference matches.
“That was a rough travel to get out there (Muncie, Ind.),” senior outside hitter Theo Edwards said. “We had a layover on the way there and it wasn’t the best situation as far as getting out there so we are glad to be back home and play some home games.”
Friday’s match against the Cardinal will determine whether the Matadors remain in the hunt for a regular season title. With five league matches to go, CSUN trails Stanford by a game and half and a win against the Cardinal will give the Matadors the tie-breaker if both teams finish tied in conference.
“We need to have the urgency to think this a must win,” said senior outside hitter Mike Guadino. So we have to take care of business against them… it would be a big time win but then again any win in this league is a big time win.”
The Cardinal enter the match sitting atop the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll having won eight straight matches, including back to back sweeps last weekend against Long Beach State and UC San Diego. Stanford is solid at every position with current MPSF player of the week leading the way with a 5.11 kill per game average which is second in the conference.
“They have a great setter (Kawika Shoji), a great libero (Erik Shoji) and two good middles as well (Gus Ellis and Garrett Werner),” said head coach, Jeff Campbell. “They are a solid team and they are playing good volleyball right now and we know they are going to be tough.”
In an earlier meeting between both schools on January 29 at Maples Pavilion, the Matadors held off the Cardinal in an exciting five-set match. Edwards led the way that night with 21 kills while senior middle blocker Jacek Ratajczak finished second with 20. CSUN will need big games from the tandem after struggling on the recent trip to Ball State.
“If I can set up the middle blockers well, especially Jacek (Ratajczak) who didn’t have two good matches at Ball State than everyone’s going to play well,” sophomore setter Matt Stork said.