Men’s volleyball: Matadors win at Matadome with first sweep of the season against Harvard

Jay Guillory

Senior libero Kaleo Baxter (6) celebrates a Matador score during Saturday night’s victory over Harvard at the Matadome. CSUN won 3-0. Photo Credit: Herber Lovato / Assistant Photo Editor

The Cal State Northridge men’s volleyball team (5-15, 3-10 MPSF) welcomed Harvard Saturday night at the Matadome with the team’s first 3-0 sweep of the season, dominating with an all-around performance.

The Matadors hit a season-high .382 hitting percentage (37-8-76) as they cruised through the Crimson (8-6), snapping a five-match losing streak 25-16, 25-20, 25-17.
CSUN credits its shutout performance to a strong week in practice.

“Our defense improved a lot, we got guys going for every ball. This win boasts our confidence heading forward against our opponents in the MPSF,” freshman outside hitter Brandon Lebrock said. 

The match marked the first time the Matadors have played against Harvard. CSUN has had success playing teams from the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association with an all-time record of 19-10.

Northridge dominated the match from the start, never trailing in the opening game and giving the Matadors confidence moving forward.

“I think we’re coming together as a team because we’ve been working really hard in practice and it showed tonight,” said Lebrock, who had four aces, five kills, two digs and three blocks.

In the first game, the Matadors won by capitalizing on kills with 16 on 26 attacks, giving the team a hitting percentage of .538 compared to Harvard’s .417. 
       
CSUN grabbed an early lead on the hands of junior Matt Stork when he delivered a kill giving the Matadors an early 7-5 lead and quickly added to it with a solo block from Drew Staker bringing the score to 10-6.

Staker had 10 kills in 11 swings to hit a match-high .909. The sophomore went 9-for-9 during the first two games and also had a match-high six blocks.

The Crimson would surge and get the match within three at 13-10, but Northridge took control to finish the game in dominating fashion.

In the second game, Harvard would play its most competitive of the match, opening an 8-4 lead over CSUN following a costly hitting error by Lebrock and a Matt Jones ace.

Junior setter Jones leads the Crimson with a team-high 171 kills and is averaging 3.80 kills per game. He finished the game with a match-high 14 kills in losing effort against the Matadors.

Trailing by two early in the game, the Matadors would regain the lead off a pair of Staker kills to go up 10-9.

CSUN would extend the lead to two, 14-12, before Harvard battled back to tie the match at 14. The Crimson kept the match close after trailing 22-20 before a pair of errors and CSUN’s John Baker’s ace put the Matadors up for good, winning the game 25-20.

Harvard scored the first point in the final game before the Matadors would run away from the Crimson taking a demanding 7-3 lead. The Crimson fought hard in the final game, but CSUN’s efficiency would not let Harvard get any closer than four the rest of the way.

The Matadors return to MPSF play next week against the No. 2 BYU Cougars for two matches Friday and Saturday at the Matadome.