Men’s volleyball: Matadors look for first road win of season at UCSB tonight



Jonathan Andrade

The Matador block of defense attempts a kill against No. 4 Stanford Saturday night. CSUN will try to win its first road game tonight at UCSB. Photo Credit: Kat Russell / Senior Photographer

The Matadors (4-7, 2-5 MPSF) may have lost at home against Stanford, but there were many shining parts of their game  they can look forward to in coming matches.

CSUN, which dropped its first home game against the Cardinal Saturday night, has yet to win on the road this season as it heads up the coast to visit UC Santa Barbara Wednesday night in the first of a three-game road trip.

The Matadors have lost all four road matches so far this year with the last coming against Long Beach State on Feb. 3.

“Once we start winning games on the road, our home games will begin to come easier and we’ll start rolling,” said junior middle blocker Drew Staker of trying to get their first road win. “It’s very important.”

Although the Matadors have seen their share of struggles on the road, they have played like a different team while in the Matadome. The energy of their home court provides the key to their 3-1 home record and the rising stars on the CSUN roster.

The stellar play of CSUN’s middle blockers – juniors Jared Moore and Staker – helped the Matadors stay within striking distance throughout Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the No. 4 Cardinal.

“I’ve been really focusing on my blocking lately,” Staker said. “I feel like our team as a whole hasn’t been blocking well all season and we’re losing games so there needs to be something different. I just want to keep blocking well and see if we can win some games from that.”

Moore led all Matadors with 13 kills and a .929 hitting percentage on the night while junior Staker was a pest on the net for Stanford, finishing with 10 blocks while tallying 4 kills on .500 hitting.

Both also played well during Friday’s victory against Pacific in which Moore and Staker combined for 16 kills and 14 blocks.

“They’re improving,” CSUN head coach Jeff Campbell said. “As the season goes on they’re connecting more with our setter. I anticipate that that’s going to continue because once you get that we can really start playing well.”

Senior outside hitter Matt Stork had an off night against the Tigers Friday but contributed against Stanford with 11 kills in 34 attempts while freshman opposite Julius Hoefer notched 12 kills on .200 hitting.

The serve-receive aspect of the CSUN defense also took a turn for the better, only committing six errors over the weekend after committing 10 crucial serve-receive errors at Long Beach.

The Gauchos come into Wednesday’s matchup after falling to UCLA at home, 3-1. The meeting will be the second between CSUN and UCSB with the first resulting in a 3-1 Gaucho win on Jan. 6 in the UCSB Asics Invitational.

The UCSB offense is led by junior outsider hitter Miles Evans and his 122 kills, while the Gauchos’ junior middle blocker Dylan Davis leads the team with 33 blocks on the defensive end.

“It’s a good team and we’re going to have to play very well in order to beat them,” Campbell said. “They play good volleyball and they’re especially good at home. We’re going to have to side out and we’re going to have to serve well.”