The Matadors (7-21, 5-16 MPSF) will play their final match of the season in an MPSF contest against the Long Beach State 49ers. This is the first time since 2001 the Matadors will not be competing in the MPSF Tournament. Prior to this year, CSUN had finished among the top eight in each and every season.
The 49ers’ record stands at 13-13 overall and 11-10 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The fifth-ranked 49ers came back from a first-game loss at home to UC San Diego to take the match in four. Freshman Taylor Crabb posted his second consecutive double-double on 13 kills (.360) and 12 digs.
Entering this week in the seven slot, a win against the Matadors coupled with one UCSB loss would bump Long Beach up to the sixth seed.
CSUN has the opportunity to shake up the division one more time this season. The Matadors will have to contain Jim Baughman, who is leading the 49ers in kills per set with 3.39 while Brad Hemmerling and Crabb average well over 2.0 kills per set.
The Matadors are coming off a sweep loss (25-22, 25-17, 25-17) at home on senior night despite a big game from junior Matt Stork who had a match-high 17 kills while hitting (.324) in 37 swings.
This season marks the worst since 1999 for the Matadors playing in the Matadome with a 4-9 record. CSUN had a year of ups and downs with the lack of experience this season and ongoing inconsistency, but the team still wants to finish this season hard with a win.
“We want to win our last game on the road, everyone is going to give maximum effort. We haven’t started looking to the next season too much, but we are getting some good players that could make a positive impact on the team,” Stork said.
Despite not looking too far ahead, players are optimistic about the team’s chances going into next season.
“I feel that we should be a be a good team next year because we had the talent all along, we just weren’t able to finish our games,” freshman middle blocker Greg Faulkner said.
The Matadors’ biggest problem was hitting percentage all year long. At times, CSUN hit lower that .200 in multiple games this year.
Northridge has already beaten the 49ers earlier this season when they came back from two sets down to pull off a huge upset in a five-game win (11-25, 16-25, 25-21, 25-22, 16-14). That win was also the first for CSUN at the Matadome this season.
Northridge is taking this last game serious as it wants to go out winning to conclude the season.
“We just want to execute at the high level we have been playing lately and also keep our energy on the court dealt high. When we have high energy, we cause a lot of problems for any team. Serving well is going to be the key to victory against the 49ers this week,” freshman outside hitter Brandon Lebrock said.