The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Anteaters take control, beat CSUN in four games

Playing against the second-ranked team in the nation on the road without one of its main weapons, senior opposite Dan Rhodes, turned out to be a very tough task for the tenth-ranked CSUN Matador men’s volleyball team.

The Anteaters were in control of all but one game of their Mountain-Pacific Sports Federation match against the Matadors at the Bren Events Center Saturday night, as they defeated Northridge in four games by scores of 30-25, 30-24, 24-30 and 30-18.

“Irvine’s a good team,” head coach Jeff Campbell said. “They affected our passing and that was the key to the game.”

Northridge was led by its two outside hitters, junior Isaac Kneubuhl and sophomore Eric Vance. Both had 11 kills apiece and senior middle blocker James Lischer had 10 kills. Two setters, freshman Sean Pederson and junior Travis Bluemling, both had 22 set assists. The Matadors also got contributions from two sophomores in the wake of Rhodes’ absence, as opposite Ryan Adams and middle blocker Kyle Waite had nine kills apiece.

“(Adams and Waite) came in and they played very well,” Campbell said.

Jayson Jablonsky paced the Anteaters with 18 kills and Matt Weber had 16 kills. Brian Thornton had 52 set assists and Brent Asuka had 21 digs. Irvine hit .433 in the fourth-game clincher.

After dropping the first two games of the match, the Matadors finally broke out in game three. The two teams traded the first six points, but then CSUN won the next three set points to take a 6-3 lead, forcing an Irvine timeout. The Matadors, though, were just getting started, as consecutive service aces by Adams and a Kneubuhl kill raised their lead to 9-6, forcing another Anteater time out.

A Matador attack error ended the run, but freshman setter Sean Pederson sent a surprise set dump into open Anteater territory and senior middle blocker James Lischer and Vance denied Weber’s attack to give CSUN an 11-4 lead. UC Irvine won consecutive sets following the run, but the Matadors then went on a four-point spurt to tame a 15-6 lead. Irvine won two of the next three points, but the Matadors again won the next four sets to take a 20-8 lead. The Anteaters won consecutive sets following the Northridge run, but a three-point run gave CSUN its largest lead of the third game at 23-10.

The Anteaters finally started showing signs of life, winning the next three sets and three more following a CSUN time out to cut the Matador lead to 23-16. Northridge responded with three of the next four sets, and Irvine in turn responded with four of five to get within six at 27-21. Waite pinned Jablonsky on a hit and an Anteater net serve put CSUN at game point. The Anteaters won the next three sets before Vance went off a pair of Anteater blockers to put an end to game three.

Irvine quickly got off the gates in game one, scoring the first three points of the game. CSUN got on the board on a kill by junior middle blocker Kyle Waite, but Irvine was warming up, as it won the next five sets to take an 8-1 lead. Thus the tone was set for game one, as Irvine led by as many as eight on two occasions. CSUN fought on despite the huge deficit, but got no closer than four points as Irvine easily took game one.

Game two saw the Matadors stay with the Anteaters a while longer, though they couldn’t get them to break. CSUN trailed 8-7 until Irvine won the next three points to take an 11-7 lead, forcing a Matador time out. CSUN tried to stay with the Anteaters from there on, but couldn’t get them to break. Irvine held a 19-13 lead as CSUN scored three straight to cut the lead in half, forcing an Irvine timeout. The Anteaters responded, however, by winning four of the next five sets to get their lead back to six. Irvine led by as many as eight and eventually took the second game.

“We couldn’t convert (Irvine’s) mistakes, and they were converting ours,” Vance said. “We were making too many mistakes.”

Rhodes did not make the trip to Irvine after injuring his ankle against UCLA two nights earlier, though Campbell said that Rhodes could be back within the next week or so. Northridge opens up a five-game stretch at the Matadome on Feb. 28, when it hosts the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, followed by a matchup with Cal Baptist on March 2.

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