In their final home game of the season, the Matadors fell to No 6 BYU 26-24, 25-23, 25-22. After being swept the previous night, CSUN came out looking for revenge. In each set it looked as if they would do so, but each time BYU prevailed and were victorious.
“I feel like as a coach and as a team, we’re putting the guys in a position to win,” CSUN head coach Jeff Campbell said. “We just haven’t been able to make those plays at the end of the match so it’s a little disappointing for us for sure.”
The first set was neck and neck from the get go. CSUN fell behind early, but had the score tied by 6-6 with a kill from sophomore opposite hitter Jakub Ciesla. After volleying the lead back and forth, the two were tied at 24 when two CSUN errors, a serve into the net from Ciesla and a kill landing off the court by Stevenson.
With 17 tie scores and six lead changes, both teams were focused only on winning and never used any of their time outs. Though they lost, the Matadors out hit the Cougars .324 to .226.
“Today we had some bad calls again here and there but the overall effort and attitude of the team was great,” Faulkner said.
The Matadors came out on fire in the second set with a kill from Faulkner to get the first point, quickly gaining a 8-3 lead. The Matadors remained ahead with one and two-point leads until a CSUN block tipped out tied the score at 23, giving BYU the lead for the first time in the set. A Cougar kill followed by a Cougar block won the set. Even though CSUN was ahead most of the match, they were greatly out hit (.406 to .125) and had far fewer kills (18 to 10) than the Cougars.
“We made a few minor adjustments from watching the film of the last game. Like we passed a lot better; it felt like we just didn’t quite have that killer instinct that we’ve been having the last couple games,” Stevenson said.
Set three started with the Matadors and Cougars neck and neck, but at 16-16 the Cougars pulled ahead. Taking a three point run, BYU was now comfortably ahead and remained so winning the set by three. The Matadors were outhit .516 to .353, but had just one less kill than the Cougars (16 to their 17).
“The third game I just felt like we couldn’t get over that hump. It felt like we were just climbing and climbing and just couldn’t get over that hump,” Magorien said.
Leading the Matadors were Magorien with 37 assists, one service ace and seven digs. Faulkner hit .462 with six kills, one service ace and two blocks. Stevenson had eight kills (.250), three digs and two blocks.
Ciesla added 10 kills (.276) and seven digs, while sophomore outside hitter Bradley Sakaida had 11 kills (.200) and three digs.
“We just played really hard for the seniors,” Sakaida said. “We wanted to win for them because it’s their last game at home, but we came up a little short. BYU played really well.”
In a ceremony before the game, the CSUN honored the three seniors playing their final match on the Matadome court: middle back Greg Faulkner, setter Travis Magorien and outside hitter Kyle Stevenson.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Magorien said. “I mean it hasn’t really sunk in. It still feels like I’m going to play another game here,”
The Matadors finish their MPSF season Satuday, April 18, as they take on Long Beach State at the Walter Pyramid at 7 p.m.