The Matadors (Matadors, now 8-13, 5-10 MPSF) add to their winning streak beating Cal Baptist 3-2 (25-17, 22-25, 25-22, 20-25, 15-7). After an upset the game before against then No. 7 USC, CSUN continued adding win number three to their streak. Having gone all five sets, victory did not come easy to the Matadors.
The first set started off slow while the first point went to Cal Baptist on a serve straight into the net. The Lancers then scored the next two points. Once the Matadors tied the score, they outplayed the Lancers an at 11-9 the Matadors went on a six-point run that went unanswered by the Lancers. A final kill from sophomore opposite Jakub Ciesla won the set 25-17 with the Matadors hitting .292 to the Lancers .053.
“We had to go in with the right mind set the first game we did,” senior setter Travis Magorien said. “The next game I think we just let up. Thankfully we pulled it out in the end,”
The second set went back and forth on the tail end due to the Matadors being behind from the very beginning. The one and only time that the lead changed in favor of the Matadors, the Lancers immediately took it back. The Lancers went on two and three-point runs to keep their lead throughout the set. CSUN was outhit .417 to .172, and the Lancers had 13 kills to CSUN’s 12.
“I think we kind of let up on the gas pedal a little bit after the first game, because everything was going right and then after that they started picking up our serves,” Magorien said. “So that’s why they were in the game, because we stopped serving well and they started passing better.”
CSUN started from behind in the third set when it allowed Cal Baptist to take a four-point lead before either team reached 10. Both teams kept with the same routine from the previous set with Cal Baptist forming a two-to-three-point lead while CSUN remained at 17-16. The Lancers tied the game when they served it straight into the net.
Back-to-back kills from Ciesla put the Matadors on top for the first time. CSUN ansewred back with a kill, (specifically senior outside hitter Kyle Stevenson) and followed up with a kill and an ace to stay on top. Back-to-back kills from Ciesla then won the set 25-22. The Matadors were still outhit .211 to .290.
“It was a sloppy match for sure; for both teams. I’ve seen them play a lot better and I’ve seen us play a lot better,” said head coach Jeff Campbell.
The first three sets set the precedent for the fourth. It started exactly the same, but the Matadors did not progress and get better. They fell early giving the Lancers the lead at 10-5. With the Lancers up 21-14, back-to-back kills from Ciesla and a block from redshirt freshman opposite hitter Arvis Greene Jr. and sophomore outside hitter Bradley Sakaida brought the Matadors within four. Cal Baptist continued to remain ahead and ultimately took the match despite CSUN’s rally.
“If they got too many points we just gave them too much momentum so we had to slow down and calm down on our side and when we’re winning speed it up,” Stevenson said.
The fifth set started the complete opposite of every other set. Magorien served back-to-back aces putting the Matadors on top from the get go. CSUN led 10-5 and kept it the rest of the set. They won on back-to-back points: a block from senior middle back Greg Faulkner and Magorien followed by a match-winning block by Sakaida and Faulkner. CSUN hit .167 with four kills to Cal Baptist’s -.240 and three kills.
“We were tired,” Campbell said. “After that first match, it was a little difficult for us, but we battled. Our guys played hard the whole time, so that was a good match,” Campbell said.
Leading the Matadors was Ciesla with 22 kills (breaking the career-high 20 he set earlier in the week against USC) (.200) on a career- high 55 swings. Ciesla also had 3 aces and 19 digs. It was his second consecutive double-double. Magorien added 32 assists with 3 aces and 5 digs. Stevenson swung a career high 43 times, 12 of them being kills. Adding to that, Stevenson had four blocks two digs and one ace.
“Jakub got 55 sets,” Campbell said. “Stevenson got 43 sets. That’s a lot of sets for those guys. They played hard too.”
The injured junior outside hitter, Sam Holt (who sprained his ankle in the final set of the series against Hawai’i) made a short appearance in the fourth set. He came in to relieve Stevenson at 18-24.
“I wanted to put him in a little bit earlier, but I wanted give Kyle rest, really that’s why I did that,” said Campbell.
The starters needed to be fresh in the fourth set and giving Holt a chance to come in for a little gave him and the team an opportunity to see where his injury was at.
“We’re trying to ease him back in because we can tell in practice he’s still a little tender on his ankle,” Magorien said.
But plagued with injuries in the second half of the season, Holt isn’t the only Matador that has missed game time due to injury nor is he the only Matador fighting through injury to play.
“I’ve fallen apart, I can barely go through practice just so I can be fresh for the game, so I can serve, unlike I did tonight,” Magorien said.
Many players in the starting lineup take time off between games and do not practice or do very little in order to ensure they are ready to play for games.
“A lot of guys rested,” Magorien said. “Like a lot of the starters rested. We did a little bit like just to get the blood flowing.”
But injury or not, the Matadors are still finding a way to win. With a week separating their last and next match, their starting lineup has time to recover, rest and prepare to play Stanford.
Stanford (9-11, 6-8 MPSF) is coming off of a sweep of UC San Diego and is currently on a four-game winning streak. Despite its streak, Stanford has a 2-6 away record.
CSUN will look to extend its home and overall record as the Cardinal come to the Matadome at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 27.