Men’s Volleyball: CSUN up against No. 1 Trojans

Jay Guillory

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SPIKE: Matador outside hitter Dillon Auxier (16) spikes the ball against 49ers Antwain Aguillard (11) and Mike Klipsch (5) during a Feb. 11 home game against Long Beach. Photo Credit: Patrick Dilanchian / Assistant Photo Editor

The Matadors look to get even with the top-ranked USC Trojans tonight at the Matadome. CSUN has dominated the Trojans, beating them in 17 straight matches that extended back to February 2004 before this season.

The tides turned when the Cal State Northridge men’s volleyball team traveled to the Galen Center on Jan. 12 to open the 2011 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play. Northridge lost to No. 1 USC in straight sets 25-18, 25-17, 25-20.

This season, USC (8-1, 8-1 MPSF) leads several conference categories such as hitting (.381), assists (13.44), kills (14.24) and digs (9.60).

The Trojans jumped out on Northridge quickly in each set, leaving the Matadors to play catch-up the entire match. USC never lost the lead against CSUN, who only got within five points against the Trojans in each set.

Tony Ciarelli had match highs of 11 kills and two aces to lead USC and teammate Murphy Troy added 10 kills while hitting .667. Troy is recording 5.62 points a game and 4.92 kills a game, both ranked second in the conference.

The Matadors (4-10, 3-6 MPSF) have  been a backbreaker for the Trojans prior to losing this year. Northridge ended the Trojans’ 2010 season with a four-game victory in the first round of the MPSF Tournament.

With the Trojans leading the way in MPSF,  the Matadors look forward to a rematch against USC, as the Matadors think they have matured since the first meeting.

“I do believe we are a different team now than we were at the beginning of the season. We are confident we can compete with SC,” freshman middle blocker Greg Faulkner said. “Basically we have to be on our games, side out and serve well. If we limit our mistakes and put pressure on SC, then they will be the ones making mistakes.”

In the second of home games this week for the Matadors, the team will host No. 9 Pepperdine (5-6, 3-6 MPSF), which CSUN beat earlier this season, 3-2. The Waves were ranked third at the time.

The Matadors, who had only won once in the last 17 matches against the Waves, earned their first conference win on the shoulders of setter Matt Stork, who dished out a season-high 50 assists, leading CSUN to one of its best hitting percentages of the season with .315.

The difference maker in the match proved to be the hitting percentage average, which the Matadors won .315 to Waves’.302. In the match, the team that kept its attack errors to a minimum won every game.

Pepperdine’s Maurice Torres and Matt Pollock, as they both combined a total 35 of kills in the Jan. 15 losing effort in Malibu, California. The Waves gave USC their only loss of the season.