The season long road trip continues today for No. 1 CSUN as they travel to Irvine to take on No. 13 UC Irvine at the Bren Center.
Since their last meeting on January 20 at the Matadome both teams have gone in different directions. After the Matadors 3-1 victory over the Anteaters, UCI has lost five of their last eight games while CSUN won five of seven matches.
“If you look at the stat sheet and their record they haven’t done too well in league but is UC Irvine, they are good team that won the national championship last year and that’s how we have to go looking at them … the reigning national champs and we have to go out there like they are the best team out there,” junior opposite hitter Tanner Nua said.
Leading the way for the Anteaters are sophomore opposite hitter Carson Clark and junior outside hitter Jordan DuFault. The tandem have a combined 501 kills this season an average of 5.33 per game for Clark and 4.07 for DuFault.
“Carson Clark is a pretty dominant hitter so we have to figure out a way to stop him,” sophomore setter Matt Stork said. “He is one of the best hitters in the country, the other players are good all around but Clark is big and hits the crap out of the ball.”
The Matadors will counter with their balance attack led by senior outside hitter Theo Edwards and this weeks MPSF co-player of the week senior middle blocker Kevin McKniff. The duo combined on 44 kills in the Matadors sweeps of then # 6 Long Beach State and # 13 UC San Diego.
“Our main focus is to just know that every team is good,” Edwards said. “If you look at the records of every team it’s real close and real tight… people have gotten beaten by teams that are not that good and good teams have been beat by teams that are supposedly not that good so we try not to look at their records too much and focus on the numbers and just take every game as if it’s going to be a good team. If we don’t play well we are going to get beat.”
The Matadors are unbeaten this season when they played away from the Matadome posting a 7-0 record including wins at Stanford and BYU at the Santa Barbara invitational.
“I remember Eric Vance (2009 Matador All-American) use to say that he loved playing on the road because he got fired up when the crowd talked a lot crap and I like that too because it get us going,” Stork said.