Men’s Volleyball: CSUN prepares for a four-match road trip

Jay Guillory

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NORTH TO WEST: The Matadors will head up north then to Hawaii for four road matches. Photo Credit: Herber Lovato / Assistant Photo Editor

After sweeping No. 2 BYU on Friday, the Matadors seemed like they had finally turn the tables to salvage their sub par season.

This did not quite happen as the Cal State Northridge men’s volleyball team (6-16, 4-11 MPSF) got a taste of their own medicine and were swept by the Cougars on Saturday.

Northridge will now travel north to face Stanford (14-5, 11-4 MPSF) and Pacific (9-14, 3-12 MPSF) this week to open up a four-match road trip that will include two matches against Hawaii.

The Matadors and No. 2 Stanford will compete for the 60th time this Friday with the Cardinal currently holding a 34-25 lead in the all-time series.

CSUN has had the edge over the Cardinal in recent years, extending back to the 2008 season where the Matadors had beaten them seven of the last 10 meetings with  the most recent coming in 2010 when they took two out of three from the defending national champions.

Stanford has beaten the Matadors this season 3-0, but like CSUN, is coming off a loss. The Cardinal lost to Cal Baptist, snapping its five-match winning streak.

Junior outside hitter Brad Lawson leads Stanford with a conference third-ranked 299 kills (4.33 kpg). Senior outside hitter Spencer McLachlin adds 266 kills (3.75 kpg). As a team, the Cardinal has a .316 hitting percentage.

The Pacific Tigers and the Matadors will meet for the 31st time on Saturday, with Northridge holding a 21-9 lead in the all-time series. The Matadors have dominated the Tigers, beating them seven consecutive times before this season.

Northridge has won 10 of the last 13 overall meetings between the two that date back to 2005.

The Tigers are led by sophomore Taylor Hughes, who has 267 kills (3.76 kpg) while junior outside hitter Florian Gornik has 207 kills (3.23 kpg).

The Matadors head into the road stretch hitting a low .231 as a team and .222 in MPSF play. CSUN?is averaging 11.39 kills per game, a slight increase of 11.65 versus MPSF teams.
Northridge is being out blocked 2.81 – 2.06 this season and the average gets worst against their MPSF opponents with 3.07 – 2.03.

The Matadors will need to win the majority of their remaining games if they have any hope of keeping their streak of 10 straight postseason appearances alive.

“We need to be ready and work 150 percent in practice to compete and win our remaining games,” said freshman outside hitter Brandon Lebrock.

Northridge will return home after the road games to wrap up their final two games at the Matadome and take on UC San Diego and UC Irvine.

Senior hitter Tanner Nua had his best hitting effort of the season Friday against BYU?with 16 kills in 35 swings to hit .371. Nua is close to reaching 1,000 career points in just three and a half seasons with Northridge.

With seven matches remaining Nua is only 66 points shy of reaching 1,000.

Junior setter Matt Stork added 15 kills as CSUN beat second-ranked BYU in straight sets (25-23, 25-21, 29-27) on Friday.

“We will always be confident headed forward, we will push hard and play hard against any opponent we face, that’s all we can do,” said Stork, who also had five digs and a pair of blocks.

CSUN’s middle blockers held a firm ground and more against BYU as freshman Greg Faulkner had eight kills while hitting .583.

“We will build on our great practices and our win against BYU to propel us forward against our MPSF opponents,” Faulkner said.

Sophomore Drew Staker, coming off his worst hitting night of the year on Saturday, has managed to rank third in the MPSF in hitting percentage at .427. Before the game, Staker had Northridge’s third best single-match hitting average (.909) with 10 kills on 11 swings.

Staker is now tied with Lebrock for second on the team with 140 kills and team-high 51 total blocks.