Back-to-back sweeps for Long Beach over men’s volleyball
The No. 11 Matadors traveled to No. 1 Long Beach Friday night to open conference play and were swept in straight sets before experiencing the same result in the reverse match at the Matadome Saturday night.
The 49ers held the Matadors to a .211 hitting percentage on Friday, adding 9.5 blocks and forcing the Matadors into 17 errors. Senior Dimitar Kalchev led CSUN, hitting .400 and adding 14 kills against Beach, while no other player on their roster had more than four kills.
“We were really tight in the first two sets but I thought we showed some fight in set three,” head coach Jeff Campbell told GoMatadors after Friday’s game. “Long Beach is a very good team but we get another shot tomorrow night so we’ll move on from this one and get ready for Saturday night at home.”
On Saturday night, the Matadors returned home to host the 49ers in their conference home opener. The 49ers’ experience showed throughout the whole game as they dominated on both ends of the court. Kyle Ensing led the 49ers for the second straight night, putting down 12 kills on .500 hitting.
“That team played really, really well. That’s the best team we’ve played all year,” said Campbell. “Credit to that team, they served extremely well and disrupted our passing game today. Our passing was all over the place.”
As was the case on Friday, Kalchev was the lone star on the court Saturday night, hitting .417 on 24 attacks, three digs and adding another ace to his record-setting career at CSUN.
His single ace over the weekend moved him into a tie for second place with Eric Vance on the all-time CSUN service aces list. Both Kalchev and Vance have 181 career aces, while Eckhard Walter continues to hold the school record with 183, a number Kalchev has been eyeing since the start of the season.
“I was expecting to get that record already. I missed some really good opportunities tonight,” Kalchev said. “I will get that record soon.”
The young Matadors found themselves in bad situations over the weekend, while the experience of the 49ers showed, taking advantage of CSUN’s poor passing and serving errors.
“I think our team is really good. We’re the No. 11 team in the country,” added Campbell. “It just so happens that the Big West has the number one, two, three, four and five teams in the country. It’s just one of those weird years. The league is ridiculously good. And so there’s no shame in losing to Long Beach. They’ve lost one match in the last two years.”
The Matadors will stay put at the Matadome as they take a quick break from their Big West schedule, hosting the final two non-conference games of the season against Saint Francis on Friday, March 8 at 7 p.m. and Lindenwood on Saturday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m.
A break coming off back-to-back losses against the best team in the nation means that they can look to bounce back with the next two games against weaker opponents before heading off to face second-ranked Hawaii.
“We need to win the next two games because we need to get better,” said Campbell. “We know we’re a better team.”
The Matadors will return home to the Matadome on Saturday, March 30 at 7 p.m. as they host UC Santa Barbara in another conference matchup.