The Cal State Northridge men’s volleyball team will take on Loyola University Chicago tonight in its first non-conference matchup since Feb. 5 when the Matadors traveled East to face Penn State and Ohio State.
The game will begin a season-long four-game homestand. Northridge has not been good at the Matadome this year, as the team has posted a 1-6 record.
This season, the Matadors have struggled with consistency in their hitting percentage. The matchup against Loyola gives the Matadors an opportunity to improve their record against a non-conference opponent before going into the final stretch against conference opponents.
There has been an incredible gap between CSUN’s (4-14, 3-10 MPSF) hitting and their opponents. The Matadors are hitting .218 for the season while opponents are hitting a whopping .348.
Northridge is behind opponents in most offensive and defensive categories including kills, assists, aces, digs and block assists.
The number that mostly stands out is 329, which is the number of attack errors the Matadors have committed, compared the opponents’ 267.
CSUN freshman outside hitter Brandon Lebrock leads the team in kills with 124 and sophomore Drew Staker is second with 117. Senior Tanner Nua leads the team with 2.50 kills a game.
Freshman middle blocker Greg Faulkner leads the Matadors in solo blocks with nine and is averaging 0.90 a game. Senior setter Matt Stork leads the team with 536 assists.
The Loyola men’s volleyball team has had a productive season thus far, winning eight out of its last ten games. The Matadors keys to winning against the Ramblers will be to limit errors and increase their hitting percentage because the Ramblers are 9-2 this season when they hit .300.
The Ramblers head into the Matadome tonight with a 12-4 overall record with their loses coming from powerhouse universities such as No. 5 Ohio State, No. 9 Penn State and No.4 Stanford.
Last season, the Ramblers finished second in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association, going 10-2 and a trip to the MIVA finals.
This season, the Ramblers have problems winning on the road bringing their 1-3 away record to the Matadome.
With four returning starters this year, the Ramblers bring experience as they are positioned to make another run in the conference tournament.
Rambler Mike Bunting, a 2010 MIVA All-Conference player, leads the conference in kills (232) and hitting percentage (.425).
Setter Mike Hutz leads the team in assists and digs this season. Hutz has cemented his legacy in the Loyola record books, ranking fourth in assists (4085), sixth in service aces (94) and tied for seventh in digs (540).
Six of the twelve victories this year for the Ramblers have been shutouts, an area which Northridge has been struggling in losing a total of 12 games by shutout, including its last four games. The Ramblers are a perfect 6-0 in shutting out teams in three straight sets.
The Matadors are currently on a four-match losing streak, but feel confident they can still turn the season around and improve on their mistakes.
“Our main focus is to simplify things on the court. Don’t over complicate things such as knowing when to go for the ball. Just go for it,” Faulkner said.