Jacek Ratajczak career night on Friday helped the Matadors split a pair of weekend matches against No. 8 Hawai’i 3-2 and 0-3. In game one the senior middle blocker from Warsaw, Poland had a career-high 30 kills, while hitting an impressive .732 on 41 swings against the Warriors.
“He had a career night,” head coach Jeff Campbell said. “They were double and triple committing on him and he was hitting over them… so anytime a middle can hit what he did, over .700 on 41 attempts is phenomenal and a big time night.”
Three other Matadors finished with double figure kills on Friday, redshirt freshman John Baker had 15, while seniors Kevin McNiff and Mike Gaudino added 13 and 11 a piece. Senior libero Ali’i Keohohou played a key role defensively posting a match-high 13 digs.
The match began well for the Matadors by winning the first set but then dropped the next two.
The Warriors looked poised to win the match in four after being up 18-16 midway through the frame. The Matadors began cutting in to the lead the next couple of points until they tied it at 22 on a kill by junior Tanner Nua and went ahead on the next point on a combined block from McKniff and Baker. CSUN outscored the Warriors 7-3 the rest of the frame to tie the match at two.
In the fifth set the Matadors stormed out to a 6-2 lead but the Warriors did not go away and battled back to get within two twice. Up 14-12 Ratajczak finished off the Warriors with his 30th kill of the night, the most for a Matador this season.
“We played pretty well in game one and in game four we fought pretty hard and in game five we played pretty well,” Campbell said. “That team played their hearts out tonight, both teams did and certainly it could have gone either way tonight.”
The next day Ratajczak and the Matadors started right were they left off storming out 24-19 in the first set. Unfazed the Warriors battled back and after repeat attempts at tying the frame finally tied it at 29. The set went back and forth the next eight points until back to back points by the Warriors sealed the set for Hawai’i.
Ratajczak had a set-high nine kills in the first frame, and seemed poised for another big game against the Warriors.
Hawai’i made some adjustments on Ratajczak and were able to jump to an early 11-7 advantage in set 2.
“They were triple committing on me, so it was really hard to get a kill away,” Ratajczak said. “I didn’t commit many errors but they affected me a lot. I couldn’t get a kill after the first set and it was pretty disappointing for me and the team.”
Northridge battled back and tied the set at 16 on a kill from Baker and took its first lead three points later on a service ace from Gaudino. CSUN was unable to hold its slim lead and fell behind by two. They manage to tie the score late in the frame at 28 only to drop the set three points later.
“They just got a couple of plays at the end and we couldn’t capitalize,” Baker who finished with a team high 14 kills on Saturday said. “If you look at all the scores, the first two games at least, it was two extra points that cost us a win.”
After the split versus the Warriors the Matadors fell to (13-6, 10-6 MPSF) and now get ready for a mid week matchup at UC Santa Barbara Wednesday night.