CSUN cruises against 49ers and Tritons

Victor Corona

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Kevin McKniff goes for a kill against the 49ers in Thursday night's victory. Photo Credit: Sarah Smith Staff Photographer

No. 1 CSUN began their toughest stretch of the season with sweeps over No. 6 Long Beach State and No. 13 UC San Diego Thursday and Friday night. The win over the 49ers (30-24, 30-24, 30-21) at the Matadome was the 200th career win for head coach Jeff Campbell.

“It feels like every other victory we’ve had,” Campbell said after improving his record to 200-159 in his 13th season as the Matador head coach. “I’m happy and proud to be a coach here and to have a job here… to have the opportunity to be in this position and I’m really excited about the way the team played tonight.”

Junior opposite hitter Tanner Nua led the way for the Matadors (11-2, 8-2 MPSF) with 13 kills against Long Beach State (5-6, 4-4 MPSF). Outside hitter Theo Edwards finished second of the night with 12 kills, while middle blocker Kevin McKniff added nine.

“After the smack down we got against Pepperdine we had a tough three days of practice,” senior outside hitter Mike Gaudino said after finishing the night with seven kills on 12 swings. “It helped us get mentally focused rather than physically…So that helped us out a lot and we were ready to play tonight.”

The first set went back and forth early on, as the teams split the first 20 points, that all changed quickly. The Matadors went on a 5-0 run that ended with a service ace by McKniff. The 49ers were never heard from the rest of the frame, as the Matadors breezed to a 30-24 set win.

The Matadors took advantage of numerous mistakes by Long Beach State to build a 19-12 lead in the second set and went up by as many as 10 in the frame, cruising to a 30-24 set win.
Up two sets to none, the Matadors continued to capitalize on 49er mistakes jumping out to a 13- 8 third set lead. Never relinquishing their lead the Matadors eased their way through another frame winning the third set 30-21.

“We came in ready to go tonight,” McKniff said. “We were really focused after some let downs in the past like Pepperdine but we came in ready to beat this team.”

The Matadors continued their winning ways the next night in La Jolla against UC San Diego (4-8, 1-6 MPSF) winning 30-26, 30-26, 30-27. McKniff and fellow senior middle blocker Jacek Ratajczak led the team with 12 kills apiece.

The victory versus the Tritons kept the Matadors unbeaten on the road this season in seven matches away from home. CSUN is off to the best start in school history.

The team will put their unbeaten road streak on the line this week with matches at UC Irvine on Wednesday and at UCLA on Friday.