The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Men’s volleyball: CSUN’s early struggles prove too much against Trojan defense

Opposite Julius Hoefer (center) and the Matadors lost in straight sets against USC Friday night. Photo Credit: Michael Cheng / Daily Sundial

The Matadors headed into Friday night’s matchup as the underdog against No. 6 USC and quickly showed why as they were swept in straight sets at the Galen Center.

CSUN (1-4, 0-2 MPSF) failed to keep up with their Mountain Pacific Sports Federation foes early in the match and nearly stole the final set, but couldn’t hold on to the lead in the closing points of the third.

“The first two sets I felt we were a bit nervous,” CSUN head coach Jeff Campbell said. “We were just not competing at a high enough level.”

Matador opposite Julius Hoefer tallied nine kills in the match, all of which came in the first two sets. Sophomore middle blocker Greg Faulkner added five kills on 12 attempts, earning him a .250 hitting percentage in CSUN’s second consecutive loss in conference play.

Although the loss puts CSUN at the bottom of the standings to start this young season, there was plenty of positive points that the Matadors could take from match.

“We still have a very young team,” Campbell said. “We have to figure things out and until they can, it may be rough.”

The Matador offense came into the third set ready to put USC (3-0, 2-0) to work and took an early lead. Midway through the third set, USC was forced to call a timeout after CSUN earned itself the 13-10 lead with impressive play from their youngsters.

CSUN at one time held the four-point (19-15) lead, but gave it back late in the set and found itself in a 24-22 hole. After a hard-earned point by the Matadors, Trojan outside hitter Tony Ciarelli put an end to the Matadors night with a shot through the CSUN defense.

“We weren’t talking as much as we should have the first two games,” Faulkner said. “We had to make sure we were all on the same page.”

In the first set, CSUN managed to stay within striking distance, but errors and a .500 hitting percentage on the USC-side of the court led to the early 1-0 deficit.

Hoefer carried the offensive load of the Matadors with seven kills on .385 hitting in the first set, with senior outside hitter Matt Stork with three to his name.

The seven errors committed by the Matadors, including three by Stork, didn’t help their case late in the set while CSUN tried to put together a comeback with the scoreboard at 20-13. CSUN managed to pull themselves within five, but the Trojans’ attack proved to be too much to handle and USC eventually took the first set, 25-18.

CSUN exchanged points and stayed within a point’s difference throughout much of the second set.  The Matador play in the second was highlighted by a pair of kills from both middle blocker Drew Staker and Faulkner.

The CSUN offense kept it close while Faulkner’s kill pulled the Matadors to a 15-17 deficit, but errors late in the second set, combined with some well-placed shots by USC outside hitter Steven Mochlaski, put an end to an improved but late Northridge attack game.

Ciarelli finished the night with 13 kills for his team while opposite Tanner Jansen managed 14 kills of his own.

The Matadors will have a chance at their first conference win next Friday at home against Long Beach State.

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