Most freshman players don’t get to contribute too much during their first season at the collegiate level. That hasn’t been the case for freshman setter Matt Stork, who has started every game for the Matadors in 2009.
Not only has Stork been there at the beginning of every game, but he is also the engine that drives the Matador offense. His 44 assists, along with an ace late in the third set, helped the No. 4 Matadors (9-2, 5-2 MPSF) sweep Cal Baptist (30-27, 30-27 and 30-28) Friday at the Matadome.
‘Usually the freshmen don’t come in and play right away,’ CSUN Head Coach Jeff Campbell said of Stork. ‘So for him to come and play is great. His setting is fantastic, but he needs to work on some things, just like all of players do.’
Cal Baptist (9-5) entered the game on a five-match winning streak and having already defeated two Mountain Pacific Sports Federation teams this season. After a commanding first set by the Matadors in which they led by as many as seven points, CSUN needed late rallies in the second and third sets to complete the sweep.
‘We started slacking off in the second and third set,’ Stork said. ‘We played really well in the first game, then we went downhill, but we picked it up at the end.”
Early on in the second set, the game went back and forth. With the scored tied at 16, back-to-back attack errors by the Matadors and a kill by Cal Baptist freshman opposite hitter Levi Cabral had the Lancers up by three. A 6-3 run by CSUN tied it at 22 before an error by junior middle blocker Kevin McKniff put Cal Baptist up 24-23. The Matadors once again rallied and scored the next four points. The Lancers would not away and got within two at 29-27, but a service error by junior outside hitter Adiel Tiedjop gave CSUN a 2-0 set lead.
The third set featured eight ties and five lead changes. The Lancers got out to a 10-5 lead and looked poised to take the set. CSUN began chipping away at the lead little by little, but every time the Matadors made a run, Cal Baptist responded with one of their own.
A Mike Gaudino kill capped off a 3-0 run for the Matadors and tied the score at 22. Once again CSUN took command of the set in the latter stages of the frame. This time, with the score tied at 28, Stork stepped up. He delivered an ace and came back on the next point to set up teammate Jacek Ratajczak for the game-winning kill.
Stork credits his match-high three aces to a talk he had at the beginning of the match with a teammate.
‘Theo Edwards told me that whenever I stop my motion from my arms I miss my serve, and whenever I got nervous, I did that. He told me to just follow through the ball and I’ll get it over, and that’s what I did.’
Chipping in offensively was McKniff, who had eight kills, three blocks, three digs and two aces while senior outside hitter Eric Vance and sophomore outside hitter Tanner Nua led the team with 11 kills apiece.
The Matadors serving and blocking woes continued against the Lancers, committing another 27 service errors and getting out-blocked 22 to 12. It’s a priority coach Campbell says will be the focus of this week’s practices.
‘We need to put a lot more time on serving and blocking,’ he said. ‘I feel like we are getting better ‘hellip; it might not show in the numbers, but we are definitely getting better.’