CSUN Men’s Volleyball ends two game skid with win over USC

Bob Garcia

Bouncing back from back-to-back loses, the 10th-ranked CSUN men’s volleyball team bounced back with a four set victory 25-17, 18-25, 25-21, 25-22 Wednesday over 8th-ranked USC.

Northridge defeated USC for the first time in their last six tries, and hit a season-high .471 as a team.

“We really played well tonight and it was by far our best we have played
this season as a team,” said head coach Jeff Campbell. ” I still we can play better but
I am really proud of our team tonight.”

In the first set, Northridge took a 9-8 lead after an attack error by USC sophomore outside hitter Christian Rivera and never relinquished the lead, winning the set by an eight point margin at 25-17.

The Matadors hit .611 in the opening set, and limited USC to .077.

The second set was all Trojans. USC took an early 3-1 lead after a kill by USC senior outsider hitter Alex Slaught. The Matadors fought back to tie the game at 5-5, but USC responded by going on a 13-6 run, capped by USC junior opposite Tanner Jansen’s kill. The Trojans rode the momentum to a 25-18 set win.

The turning point of the match came in the third set during an intense trading of rallies back and forth. It was finished on a block by CSUN junior outside hitter Brandon Lebrock, putting up Northridge 18-15.

Lebrock finished the game with 18 kills and a season-high .571 attack percentage.

“It was a crazy rally,” Campbell said. “Any time you win that I feel it gives you a sense of momentum and I feel that happened in game three.”

Northridge carried that momentum, and won the set 25-21 on a kill by senior opposite John Baker, who had career-highs in attack percentage with .543 and kills with 22.

The fourth set was another hard fought battle that saw back and forth play continue, as the team’s exchanged five lead changes and 11 ties.

The Trojans took a three point lead at 12-9 after a kill by Trojan opposite Tanner Jansen, but CSUN rallied back. Northridge went on a 6-2 run, punctuated with a kill by sophomore outside hitter Kyle Stevenson. From that point on, Northridge never trailed in the set, winning 25-22.

Baker felt that the serving and passing were keys to the team’s victory.

“We had to serve hard to get them out of their normal offense and our passers did a great job of getting the ball to the net,” Baker said. “When we do that we cannot be stopped.”