No. 13 UC Irvine upsets No. 1 CSUN at the Bren Center

Victor Corona

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The Matadors road unbeaten streak came to an end Wednesday night at the Bren center as No. 13 UC Irvine pulled off a huge 3-1 upset of No. 1 CSUN .

Senior outside hitter Theo Edwards lead four players with double digit kills with 17, junior opposite hitter Tanner Nua finished second with 15 while senior middle blockers Jacek Ratajczak and Kevin McKniff added 13 and 11 apiece.

“They are coached really well, they have great players and huge guys so anytime you can beat a team like that it means a lot,” UC Irvine sophomore opposite hitter Carson Clark said of beating the top rank team in the country.

The first set began well for the Matadors (11-3, 8-3 MPSF) as they got out to 12-9 lead on a service ace by Nua. The Matadors could not hold on to their slim lead, down 16-13 the Anteaters (8-8, 4-7 MPSF) went on a 5-0 run and took a two-point advantage at 18-16. A kill by McKniff on the next point was as close as the Matadors would get as the Anteaters finished the frame on an 11-4 run to take the first set 30-23.

“When certain parts of our game fall apart everything falls apart,” Nua said. “We weren’t serving well, we weren’t passing well and we weren’t hitting well and it was sort of like a domino affect and it showed some of our flaws tonight.”

The Matadors began the second set by working the middles to set up their attack; five of the first eight kills were by McKniff and Ratajczak. Edwards and senior outside hitter Guadino took advantage of the attention given to the middles combining on eight kills in the frame. The biggest play of the set came courtesy of Gaudino, with the Matadors up 23-11 he ran into the score table to save a ball that ended with an Edwards kill.

“I like those plays a lot so I was just trying to see if I can do it and why not what’s the worse that’s going to happen so it rallied the team and it fired up the team … we came out hot in the second set but that was about it,” Guadino said.

A tight third set early turned into an Anteater runaway, the Matadors held a two-point lead at 12-10 but a 3-0 run by the Anteaters gave them a one-point advantage. The Matadors came back tied it on the next point but UC Irvine went on a 10-1 run to take control of the frame and ultimately cruise to a 30-21 win.

“I think they are second to last in league sot hey had nothing lose and they played like it… they were getting every ball and doing all the small things well,” Gaudino said.

The Matadors fell behind 4-0 to start the fourth set but as the set went on they slowly fought back and eventually tied the set at 14. The set went back and forth the next four points until the Anteaters got a little breathing room after 3- 1 spurt gave them a 18-16 lead. The Matadors would get within one on the next point but 6-3 run put a stop to any chance CSUN had of forcing a fifth set as the lost the set 30-25

“We were sharp in game two, we didn’t do much of anything very well,” head coach Jeff Campbell said. “ We had three guys hit 300 points under their average so we are going to have to figure out a way to be better.”