The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Matador men’s volleyball seeks first win at home

WATCH OUT: Middle blocker Greg Faulkner already has 61 kills and 25 blocks this season. Photo Credit: Patrick Dilanchian / Assistant Photo Editor

With almost half the season completed, the Matadors are closer to recording one of their worse seasons over the last decade, a complete turnaround uncharacteristic of their usual winning ways.

The Cal State Northridge men’s volleyball team is on a six-match losing streak, not having won since playing Pepperdine on the road on Jan. 15.

The Matadors (2-9, 1-5 MPSF) have not lost this many matches consecutively since dropping nine straight back in the 2001 season. The team has also dropped out of the AVCA Coaches Top-15 Poll for the first time since the 2002 season, breaking a string of 155 consecutive weeks.

Coach Jeff Campbell acknowledges that this season is one of the worse during his tenure, but said a team has to go through these kinds of difficulties, especially when new players are a factor.

“Well, as of right now it is definitely,” Campbell said. “We’re playing a lot of young guys and in all sports, in collegiate sports and even in professional sports, when you play a lot of inexperienced guys you know generally it makes it a little tougher on yourselves and that’s what we’re doing right now, we’re playing younger guys.”

Campbell has been trying new methods to jumpstart the offense and to improve the defense and blocking. Some of the methods included trying new starting lineups and moving players into different positions.

Even though the changes failed to produce victories over the weekend against Ohio State and Penn State, Campbell said it will take some time to attain positive results and again cited inexperience as the main reason for the struggles.

“It is an ongoing process. We did compete and we had opportunities against Penn State to win that match, but we were inexperienced and it definitely affected plays down the stretch,” Campbell said. “We just don’t have the experience and again the only way we are going to get it is by playing these matches. We are overmatched right now for sure.”

The Matadors are coming off back-to-back straight-set losses to non-conference opponents, Ohio State and Penn State, two teams that made the NCAA Final Four last season.

The team lost 25-14, 25-19, 25-16 to OSU on Friday and 25-19, 25-22, 26-24 to Penn State on Saturday. The matches were part of the Penn State Tournament that took place in University Park, Pennsylvania.

Despite bad matches by usually solid players like freshmen Brandon Lebrock and Greg Faulkner, senior hitter Tanner Nua was a bright spot after being inserted back into the Matador starting lineup.

Nua hit .400 in each match over the weekend, which included 20 kills in 40 attacks with just four errors. He credited a different approach on his recent success.

“I just had a giving attitude going into it. No worries just go for it, but try to play smarter at the same time. If the ball is not there to be hit maybe don’t take a 100 percent swing and it really helped me out because before I used to hit every ball and, I would still get kills, but I was making a lot more errors,” Nua said.

The Matadors will be playing the second-ranked Long Beach State 49ers (6-3, 5-1 MPSF), a team that is on a four-match winning streak after losing to top-ranked USC on Jan. 14.

The 49ers are led by junior opposite hitter Jim Baughman, who leads the team with 3.97 kills per game that ranks eighth in the MPSF. Senior middle blocker Antwain Aguillard leads the team in blocks and ranks second in the conference with 1.41 blocks per game.

Even though the Matadors are searching for that elusive first home victory, outside hitter Lebrock said the main focus is to improve the team. Records and streaks come later.
“We’re worrying about ourselves first, but if we just do our job and get touches on the blocks and play hard, we’ll put up a battle.”

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