After moving into the top stop in the national rankings, the Matadors now look to defend their No. 1 rank against No. 8 BYU with a match tonight and another one Friday at the Matadome.
‘We need to come out prepared like we did against Pepperdine and USC,’ CSUN sophomore Tanner Nua said. ‘We need to come out with the same intensity, like we want that No. 1 spot because now that we have the No. 1 ranking, we don’t want to lose it.”
The Matadors (13-2, 9-2 MPSF) sit half a game back of UC Irvine for first place in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and have won a season-high seven games in a row.
This week’s matches against BYU will be the start of a season-long, seven-match homestand. CSUN is the only team in MPSF play which has yet to drop a match at home. The Matadors have only dropped one set a home all season long.’
The Cougars (9-6, 7-3) enter the match against CSUN winners of four matches in a row and are 3 -3 on the road this season. Leading the way for BYU are a pair of juniors: outside hitter Andrew Stewart and setter Yamil Perez.
Three players to keep an eye on this week for the Matadors are Nua, sophomore middle blocker Jacek Ratajczak and senior All-American Eric Vance. The trio combined to have 103 kills in wins over Pepperdine and USC last week. For their outstanding play, Vance and Ratajczac each earned Player-of-the-Week recognition.
‘We need to continue to be consistent,’ Ratajczac said. ‘We need to continue to work hard, continue to practice hard and looking toward the picture of winning a national championship.’
The Matadors trail 27-17 in the all-time series with the Cougars. CSUN has dropped five straight to BYU, including a loss in the MPSF semifinals in 2008. The Matadors are 8-9 against the Cougars at the Matadome.
Kills: Eric Vance (5.38 kpg) Assists: Matt Stork’ (14.11 apg) Digs:’ Ali’i Keohohou 3.11
Matador to watch: Jacek Ratajczac, middle blocker, junior
The 7-foot Ratajczac was named Player of the Week in the MPSF on Monday after helping the Matadors to road wins over two of the nation’s best teams. Ratajczac had 28 kills and seven blocks in the two games last week.
vs. BYU (9-6, 7-3), Thursday and Friday (both at 7 p.m.)
Kills: Mat Taylor 3.96 Assists: Yamil Perez 11.29 Digs: Joel Silva 2.12
Cougars to watch:
– Andrew Stewart, outside hitter, junior
Steward leads the team in kills with 225. Last week, in matches against Pacific, he combined for 38 kills and 12 digs, helping the Cougars to back-to-back wins over the Tigers.
– Yamil Perez, setter, junior
The 6-foot-1 Perez recorded 101 assists last weekend in two matches against Pacific, including 51 in the first match against the Tigers. Perez, along with Steward, is the leader on a young BYU team which has no seniors on its roster.
That’s what he said: Jeff Campbell, CSUN Head Coach On the Cougars:
‘They are a little bit more inexperience than they were last year, but they are very good and talented. They only have three losses in conference.’