Notebook: A battle of MPSF friends

Alonso Tacanga

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Pepperdine’s Paul Carroll wasn’t among the ones rooting for the Cougars when the CSUN men’s volleyball team faced them in the MPSF Quarterfinals on April 25. The MPSF Player of the Year was actually, subconsciously, hoping for a chance at a tiebreaker between his Waves and the Matadors.

Not that Carroll likes playing with fire ‘- the Matadors were ranked No. 2 in the nation. The All-American was merely wishing the best for his buddies. Friendships among Waves and Matadors are well-documented this season.

‘I was really happy when CSUN made it to the top four,’ Carroll said. ”hellip; They’re great guys.’

Of course, Carroll wasn’t in wishing-CSUN-well mode on Thursday, when Pepperdine eliminated the Matadors with a 3-1 win in the MPSF Semifinals. The opposite hitter buried Northridge with a game-high 33 kills. Fifteen of those came in the game-deciding second set.

Speaking of the second set

It was clear to everyone, including the Waves’ Paul Carroll, that the Matadors were not the same team that won Thursday’s first set ‘- or even the one that lost the next one ‘- after CSUN went down 40-38 in set No. 2 of its MPSF semifinal match-up against Pepperdine.

The bitter set loss, which only tied the game at 1-1, had the Matadors looking deprecated for the next two.

‘The momentum changed a little bit,’ Carroll said.

Afterwards, the Matadors admitted the set took too much from them mentally. CSUN was never in serious contention to take either set three or four. They lost them by a combined 11 points.

USC avenges Matadors

Most were expecting the MPSF final to include the host, top-ranked UC Irvine. USC, the fifth seed, had other plans.

The Trojans must have surprised even themselves on Thursday night when they swept the Anteaters 3-0 in front of their Bren Events Center crowd. The win set up a Saturday USC-Pepperdine championship game.

The Waves couldn’t come up with a pivotal set this time, dropping the fifth 21-19, and the game, 3-2. USC, which CSUN beat with ease twice in the regular season, earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Final Four and eliminated Pepperdine in the process.

Joining USC in the battle for the National Title: No. 5 Penn State, No. 10 Ohio State and No. 1 UC Irvine.