Notebook: record-breaking Matadors

Victor Corona

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This season, the Matadors men’s volleyball team established a new all-time record for service aces. The previous record of 185 ‘- held by the 1992 team, which had three players with at least 20 aces each ‘- was shattered on April 3 in a 3-1 win over USC. CSUN now has 219 aces.

The 1992 Matadors had Axel Hager on their squad. He had 44 that year. In 2009, the leader in the category is senior Eric Vance, who has an all-time, single-season-best 56 aces. Six of Vance’s teammates have 20-plus aces as well.

Four All-American Candidates

The Matadors’ great regular season is likely to garner individual awards for some on the team. There are four Matadors in contention to receive All-American honors: Vance, setter Matt Stork, and middle blockers Kevin McKniff and Jacek Ratajczak.

In the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, Vance finished the season ranked first in aces (56), second in kills (5.48 per set) and third in points (6.31 per set). Stork, a freshman, led the nation in assists (1175) and in assists per set (14.10). McKniff and Ratajczak ranked two and three in hitting percentage (.474 and .459 respectively). The two also combined for 174 blocks.

‘It would always be nice to win an award like that,’ Ratajczak said. ‘(But) I would give up any award for a long run in the playoffs.’

Series history versus BYU

The Matadors trail the Cougars 27-19 in the all-time series since 1990. Coming into this season, CSUN had lost five in a row to BYU. The last loss had been during the 2008 MPSF playoffs.

‘The match will be a big motivation,’ McKniff said. ‘Because they have ended our season two years in a row.’

This season, the Matadors won both regular-season games against BYU. The sweep of the Cougars was the first since 1995. The Matadors are 10-9 all-time against BYU at the Matadome.

‘The two matches against BYU could have easily gone the other way,’ Head Coach Jeff Campbell said. ‘It is a big advantage to play at home and we are hoping to use that to come out with a win on Saturday.’

What to look for versus Cougars

Winning the first set against BYU will be big for the Matadors. This season, when CSUN wins set No. 1, the Matadors are 20-2. In contrast, whenever they’ve lost the first set, their record drops to 3-4.

Also, the Matadors better hope the match on Saturday doesn’t go five sets because, this season, they lost three of the four five-setters they had. After winning its first five-set match against Pepperdine at Malibu, CSUN lost its next three of the kind to UC Irvine, Stanford and the Waves (the last one at the Matadome). All three five-frame losses have come after CSUN dropped the first two sets.