Two straight losses on the road against UC Irvine and UCLA last week dropped the Matadors four spots to No. 5 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association division I-II top 15 poll.
“For us this is a mental thing and we need to understand that we lost to some good teams,” senior outside hitter Theo Edwards said. “ We didn’t bring it to the extent that we could but we got to put that behind us and really really focus up on USC.”
The Matadors (11-4, 8-4 MPSF) will look to rebound with road matches this week against top ten opponents, tonight at the Galen Center against No. 6 USC and Friday against No.1 Pepperdine at the Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu.
“Coach (Jeff Campbell) was pretty happy about our energy level in practice this week,” senior outside hitter Mike Gaudino said. “All we have to do is come out with same energy and execute against SC.
The Trojans will come into the match versus the Matadors having lost four of the last six matches after spending the first month of the season ranked No. 1. USC is led by junior opposite hitter Murphy Troy, the six-foot-eight Troy leads the team in total kills (221) and kills per game (4.17). Sophomore outside hitter Tony Ciarelli is one of the top hitters in the nation and is second on the team behind Troy in hitting.
“They have some big hitters and pretty fast offense and is some thing we have been able to handle before,” Edwards said. “We took them to five last time at our place but the focus for us is to contain their big guy Murphy Troy and their big hitters.”
CSUN has won 15 straight matches against the Trojans a streak that goes back six years and includes a five set win at the Matadome in early February. Senior middle blocker Kevin McKniff had a near perfect night with 13 kills on 14 swings last week against UCLA. In the earlier meeting versus USC, McKniff was one of four players with double figure kills while Guadino fell one short of making it five players.
“Is fun playing at SC and we have a good time playing there… They are a really good team so for us to have a stat like that is pretty fine for us and hopefully we can keep it going and have a good match.” Guadino said.