A week after getting destroyed by UCLA at home the No. 3 Matadors responded with a road sweep of No. 2 Stanford (3-2) and Pacific (3-0) on Friday and Saturday night setting up a potential one versus two showdown on Wednesday at the Matadome.
In their match against the Cardinal (3-3, 3-3 MPSF) at Maples pavilion, Northridge (8-1, 5-1 MPSF) played their first five set match of the season winning 3-2 (25-30, 30-21, 30-25, 32-34, 15-13).
“It is always nice to beat someone ranked above you,” junior opposite hitter Tanner Nua said after defeating No. 2 Stanford. “They are always a tough competitor so a win like this boost our spirit sky high.”
Four players were in double digit kills against the Cardinal; senior outside hitter Theo Edwards, as he has done most of the early part of the season, led the Matadors in kills with a career-high 21. Senior middle blocker Jacek Ratajczak rebounded from poor performances in recent matches and added 20 while Nua chipped in with 17.
“I was very focused, I knew they were a good team,” Ratajczak said. “Whenever we are playing against a good team I like to have high energy… I guess tonight was my night so I’m glad we came out with the win.”
The Matadors got out to a bad start against the Cardinal dropping the first set and looked much like the team that got swept against UCLA in that first frame. Trailing early in the second set 6-4 CSUN head coach Jeff Campbell went to his bench for a spark and turned to true freshman middle blocker Drew Staker. After inserting Staker in the match the Matadors went on a 14-7 run and took control of the second set and cruised to a set win.
“Kevin (McKniff) wasn’t blocking very well and he wasn’t connecting,” Campbell said. “He is usually very good offensively; he was just not connecting for some reason. He was tipping a lot balls and so we decided to go with Drew.”
Northridge dominated the third and most of the fourth set and were up 25-19 until the Cardinal rallied and tied the frame at 27 and eventually took the lead on the next point. The set went back-and-forth the rest of the way until back-to-back points from Stanford with game tied at 32 gave the Cardinal a 34-32 set win forcing a deciding fifth set.
In the final frame, Edwards took over with four kills and a serving ace, which helped the Matadors escape with 15-13 win.
“I just wanted to win,” Edwards said. “I told Matt (Stork) I live for this give me the ball and I wanted it, so I went hard.”
The next night the Matadors made quick work of Pacific (4-6, 0-6 MPSF) sweeping the Tigers (30-27, 30-25, 30-23) Edwards pounded a team high 12 kills while senior outside hitter Mike Gaudino added 11.
The road sweep of the Cardinal and the Tigers set up a potential one versus two in the nation against USC Wednesday at the Matadome.
“To tell you the truth I don’t want to talk too much about (the USC game) but I will tell you that they are a great team and we are going to come in and get them,” Edwards said.