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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Tournament run begins in Malibu for men’s volleyball

The No.6 Cal State Northridge men’s volleyball team will begin its 2006 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament run this weekend as they travel to Malibu for a matchup with the No. 3 seeded Pepperdine Waves at Firestone Fieldhouse at 7 p.m. April 22.

“Pepperdine is a great team,” said head coach Jeff Campbell. “But we’re also a great team.”

The Matadors (18-10, 13-9) slipped down to sixth place in the MPSF standings last week when they lost their final two games to UC Irvine and UCLA last week.

The two losses, combined with Long Beach State’s wins over Pacific and Stanford, enabled the 49ers to overtake the Matadors for fifth place in the conference.

CSUN, however, received a huge break when the Brigham Young University Cougars lost both their matches to No. 2 Hawaii during the weekend, which enabled Pepperdine to move up to third place and Long Beach State to fourth. Instead of a long plane ride to Provo Utah to face the Cougars on high altitude, CSUN will only have to travel to Malibu to face Pepperdine.

“It would have been a real disadvantage for us,” Campbell said about BYU’s home court advantage.

The Waves (16-7, 15-7) come in as the defending national champions, but the Matadors have had success against them this season.

In the first meeting at Pepperdine on Feb. 18, CSUN lost the first two games 30-24 and 30-26, but came back to win the next two 37-35 and 30-26 before falling just short in the fifth game by a score of 15-13.

Despite the loss, junior opposite Dan Rhodes was simply unstoppable, as he smashed a career-high 41 kills and 11 digs. Rhodes also had support, as senior outside hitter Cary Hanson had 10 kills and 13 digs. Senior middle blocker Matt Bellante also had 10 kills, sophomore setter Travis Bluemling had 70 assists and sophomore Isaac Kneubuhl had eight kills and 12 digs.

The second meeting at the Matadome on April 5, however, was a much different story. The Matadors jumped on the Waves early and the end result was an improbable three-game sweep by scores of 30-22, 30-28 and 30-26. Rhodes had 19 kills and senior middle blocker Brian Waite and junior middle blocker James Lischer had 10 kills apiece. Kneubuhl and freshman outside hitter Eric Vance had eight kills while Bluemling had 45 assists and junior libero Sebastian Pedraza had 14 digs.

“That (wins against Pepperdine) gives us a lot of confidence,” Campbell said. “But not too much becasue we’ve still got to go out and play.”

Rhodes had a regular season total of 433 kills while averaging 4.29 a game while Waite is second on the team with a 2.99 kills per game average and 320 total kills. Vance has contributed with 228 kills while averaging 2.51 a game. Bluemling has been the team’s top setter, as he has assisted 1,440 kills while averaging 13.33 a game.

Pepperdine is led by John Parfitt, who leads the team in kills with 342 while averaging just over four a game. Parfitt had 27 kills against CSUN on Feb. 18, but was held to 11 at the Matadome.

Paul Carroll is second on the Waves with 309 kills while averaging 3.68 a game. Carroll had 21 kills against the Matadors on Feb. 18, but like Parfitt, was a non-factor at the Matadome, as he was held to only 10 kills.

CSUN and Pepperdine have a history in the postseason, as both teams have met four times in the playoffs over the last five seasons and each time, the Waves have emerged victorious, a trend CSUN hopes to reverse this time around.

“We’ve played Pepperdine real well,” Rhodes said. “Our whole team is ready.”

Those interested in traveling to Malibu can purchase their tickets by calling (866) 928-3849 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. or they can be purchased in person at the Firestone Fieldhouse ticket office moments before the game, starting at 6 p.m..

Tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for children and seniors. Those who can’t make it down to Malibu can hear the game on Broadcast time is scheduled to start at 6:55 p.m.

The winner of Saturday’s playoff game will move on to the MPSF semifinals and finals, which will be held at UC Irvine on April 27 and 29. Irvine clinched the regular season title April 14 when it swept UC Santa Barbara by scores of 30-25, 30-22 and 30-25.

Irvine will have a bye in the quarterfinal round and will host the final two rounds of the MPSF tournament starting on April 27.

Ivan Yeo can be reached at

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