It’s not everyday that career nights from two players get overshadowed, but when a streak of 19 won sets and five consecutive sweeps comes to an end, that’s likely going to happen.
Career nights from freshman setter Matt Stork (81 assists) and sophomore opposite hitter Tanner Nua (22 kills) were a side note in the Matadors 3-1 victory over No. 7 Stanford Friday at the Matadome.’ ‘ ‘
The Matadors began the season sweeping their first five opponents at home, including Pacific on Thursday. The streak stood at 18 going into Friday’s game against the Cardinal before it came to an end in the second set.
‘I was hoping to go perfect at home,’ Nua said. ‘But it’s nice to lose a set because you don’t have that feeling that you can’t be beaten and it makes you work a little bit harder.’
The Cardinal (8-7, 4-6 MPSF) was coming off an upset win over previously-unbeaten Pepperdine last week and were looking to also upset the No. 4 Matadors. Stanford came out aggressively from the start, getting out to a 17-13 first-set lead. CSUN mounted a comeback thanks to Senior All American Eric Vance and Nua’s play down the stretch. The two had nine kills late in the first frame and helped the Matadors come up with a 36-34 set win.
‘As the leader and the captain of this team, I like to put some of the weight on my shoulders,’ Vance said of getting the ball late in the game. ‘ In tight situations like that, I want the ball set to me.’
After pulling out the first set, the Matadors were in control of the second halfway through it. Stanford responded by giving CSUN a little of its own medicine and rallying to tie the game at 17. The next five points went back and forth, but back-to-back kills from Stanford sparked an 8-5 run that gave them the set and handed the Matadors their first set-loss at home this season.
The third game was highlighted by Stork’s four consecutive aces that stretched a three-point Matador lead to seven. CSUN never looked back in the set and won it, 30-21.
‘At first, I was just trying to get the serve in,’ said Stork of the aces. ‘After I got going, I started serving harder and harder.’
The fourth and final set had both sides of the stands on the edge of their feet. The game had 20 ties and four lead changes. With the score tied at 22, the teams went back and forth until the 33rd point. A kill by junior middle blocker Kevin Mckniff gave the Matadors a one-point lead. He ended the match on the next point with a service ace.
‘We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game,’ CSUN Head Coach Jeff Campbell said. ‘Because Stanford is a great volleyball team, we just need to be ready for a battle every game.’
CSUN now sets its sights on No. 3 Pepperdine. The Matadors have a date with the Waves on Wednesday at Malibu in a match-up that features two of the nation’s top teams.