The No. 4 Matadors finished off a great two-match road trip by sweeping No. 5 USC 3-0 on Saturday, making a case to become the new No. 1 when the latest national rankings are released Monday.
‘Come Monday, we should be No. 1 in the rankings with most of the first place votes,’ CSUN opposite hitter Tanner Nua said. ‘The only other team that might be No. 1 is UC Irvine and, since we beat them head-to-head at their place, I think we deserve the No. 1 spot.’
CSUN (11-4, 8-3 MPSF), which also defeated the current No. 1 ‘- Pepperdine – on Wednesday, made quick work of the Trojans (11-4, 8-3 MPSF). They swept them 30-23, 34-32 and 30-26 at the Galen Center.’
The Matadors took command of the match in the first set. With the frame tied at four, CSUN cruised the rest of the way thanks to a 26-19 run to close the game. Nua and senior Eric Vance combined to have nine of the 16 kills in the set.
The second set was a different issue for the Matadors thanks to their own doing. Nine CSUN serving errors allowed the Trojans to take the set into extra points. The teams were in a battle right from the start of the set. USC jumped out to an early three-point lead, but the Matadors responded with a 9-4 run to take a 14-12 lead. The Matadors two-point cushion didn’t last long as the Trojans countered with a 9-4 spurt of their own to make the score 21-18. CSUN chipped away at that lead, eventually tying the score at 22, and was able to go ahead by two after back-to-back aces from Vance.
The Trojans were able to come back and tie the game at 25 thanks to an attack error from junior Mike Gaudino. The teams went back and forth the next 14 points until back-to-back attack errors from USC’s Troy Murphy gave the Matadors a 34-32 second set win.’
‘We got a little sloppy in that set,’ CSUN Head coach Jeff Campbell said. ‘We didn’t take advantage of all the opportunities we had … USC is a great team and I feel very fortunate to come out of here with a win.’
The Matadors continued to pound away at the Trojans with 19 kills in the third set. Like in the first, the teams traded points early, but a run late in the frame put an end to any hope USC had of taking a set from the Matadors.
Leading the way offensively for the Matadors was Vance with 18 kills while Nua and junior Jacek Ratajczak had 11 apiece.’
The win caps off an impressive week for the Matadors, who had road wins over two of the top teams in the nation. USC became the third top-five opponent (the others being UC Irvine and Pepperdine) the Matadors have defeated on the road this season.
‘This was a big week for us and best possible outcome,’ Ratajczak said. ‘We still have to improve our blocking and serving and the little things that make a team great.”
Game Notes – The win is the Matadors’ seventh consecutive. They will now return home for a seven-match homestand, which begins on Thursday against BYU.’