The Matadors had a bit of Jekyll and Hyde happen on their trip to the Midwest as CSUN split a pair of matches Friday and Saturday night against Ball State at Worthen Arena. After sweeping the Cardinals on Friday, the Matadors loss in straight sets to Ball State on Saturday.
“We played well in the first match (Friday), we were fresh…we executed well and that was the opposite tonight (Saturday) with us and the other team,” head coach Jeff Campbell said. The other team was sharp tonight and we weren’t, which was a complete reversal.”
In Friday’s match the Matador combo up front of Kevin McKniff and Jacek Ratajczak combined for 21 kills. McKniff added four serving aces, while Ratajczak was a defensive wall with a team high six blocks.
Senior outside hitter Theo Edwards seemed to have been refueled by the two-week break and had his best match in weeks with 11 kills, three digs, two blocks and one serving ace.
The Matadors were in a tight battle in the first set after 38 points but a couple of kills from McKniff and a pair of Cardinal hitting errors helped CSUN stretch the lead 24-18. The Matadors kept plugging away the rest of the frame and built the advantage up to nine and won the set 30-22.
The second set was much like the first with both teams stuck in another battle early on with the Matadors holding a slim 17-15 advantage. CSUN took controll of the frame from that point on thanks to a 8-2 run that gave the Matadors a 25-17 edge late in the set and eventually prevailed in taking the game 30-24.
The Cardinals came back in the third set and fought back and forth with the Matadors and held a 22-20 lead in the frame. CSUN continued to trail by two late at 26-24 until kills from seniors Mike Guadino and McKniff tied the game and a Ball State hitting error on the next point gave the Matadors the lead. The Cardinals squared the match on the next point but CSUN had the last answer with back-to-back kills from junior opposite hitter Tanner Nua and McKniff. McKniff closed the set for the Matadors with a solo block and gave the Matadors a 30-28 set win improving the Matadors to 16-6 and 5-0 against non-conference opponents this season.
The perfect non-conference record came to an end the next night as the Matadors fell to the Cardinals 30-24, 30-28, 30-22.
“The others played very well and put a lot of pressure on us and any time we don’t play well we are going to be in a position lose,” Campbell said.
The Matadors looked out of sync right from the outset falling behind by as many as five midway through the frame and never really getting close to the Cardinals. Ball State went up by nine late in the set and won the game 30-24 as the Matadors tried to make a late push.
In the second set the Matadors battled back and forth with the Cardinals, locked in a tight clash late in the frame. Tied at 23 Ball State took the lead for good on back-to-back kills and closed the set 10 points later giving the Cardinals a two game lead.
The third set went from a close match early on to a runaway for the Cardinals who went up by as many as seven points late in the frame and eventually ran away with the set 30-22.
“It’s a wakeup call,” Campbell said of his team who might have been caught looking to Friday’s big match against No. 1 Stanford. “It’s not a league match so it doesn’t count against our league record and we will probably move down in the rankings deservedly so.”