The regular season for No. 3 CSUN comes to end this weekend, as the Matadors travel to Utah for back-to-back matches Friday and Saturday night against No. 2 BYU for a shot at the MPSF regular season title.
“Our entire regular season boils down to these two matches,” redshirt freshmen John Baker said. “If we win both we are in a fantastic spot to host at least one game of the playoffs. If not we could ultimately have to travel for the first round, which is never good. We need these wins,”
The Matadors are certain of one thing going into the weekend they are in the MPSF playoffs, what is not certain is what seed they will become Sunday morning.
Two wins at BYU and a Stanford loss to either UCLA or UC Irvine this weekend gives the Matadors it’s first MPSF regular season title and the No.1 seed in the tournament. If the Matadors split or get swept at BYU then they can end up anywhere from fourth to fifth, a fifth spot finish would mean having to travel for a first round match.
With an impressive start to the month of April in which they have won all four of their matches, including wins over No. 1 Stanford and perennial power Penn State. The Matadors will need the momentum gained the past few weeks, as they go into a place (Smith Fieldhouse) not many teams have been successful the past decade.
“We are going to take one game at a time.” Head coach Jeff Campbell said. “It is going to be tough because of the elevation up there (Provo, Utah), so the serving and passing is going to be different because of the flight of the ball… but we are looking forward to it and hopefully we will be in position to challenge those guys up there.”
Not only are the Cougars tough at home having won 102 out of a possible 118 matches since 2002 but they come into the weekend matches winners of 10 straight. Last weekend they made quick work of Cal Baptist by sweeping both matches.
“The crowd, the atmosphere, and the fact that these matches mean a ton to both teams. It’s going to take consistent playing and leaving it all on the court for us to come out on top.” senior outside hitter Mike Gaudino said on what makes it tough to play at Smith Fieldhouse and what is going take to get a couple of wins at BYU.
Before last season the Matadors had struggled against the Cougars losing six-of-seven including five straight at one point. Last season the Matadors defeated BYU twice during the regular season and eliminated the Cougars in the playoffs. This year the Matadors defeated the Cougars 3-1 in the championship game of the Santa Barbara Elephant Bar Tournament before the start of the regular season.