Matadors Return to Conference Play Against Top-Ranked UC Irvine, No. 15 UC San Diego This Week

MATCH #20 (MPSF Match #13):

No. 1 UC Irvine Anteaters (16-3, 12-3 MPSF) at No. 13 Northridge Matadors (8-11, 4-8 MPSF)

Wednesday, Mar. 14, 2012 - 7:00 p.m. PST
The Matadome (1,600) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: Gametracker (GoMatadors.com)
Streaming Video: none
Audio: none
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors


MATCH #21 (MPSF Match #14):

No. 15 UC San Diego Tritons (4-16, 2-13 MPSF) at No. 13 Northridge Matadors (8-11, 4-8 MPSF)

Friday, Mar. 16, 2012 - 7:00 p.m. PST
The Matadome (1,600) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: Gametracker (GoMatadors.com)
Streaming Video: none
Audio: GoMatadors.com (Mark Schuermann, Alex Jones)
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors

Weekly Match Notes (PDF)


FOR STARTERS

Cal State Northridge (8-11, 4-8 MPSF) returns to MPSF play this week as the 13th-ranked Matadors host top-ranked UC Irvine (16-3, 12-3 MPSF) on Wednesday and No. 15 UC San Diego (4-16, 2-13 MPSF) on Friday. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. in The Matadome where Northridge is 6-3 this season. The Matadors reached the midpoint of their season-long, nine-match homestand last week as Northridge went 2-1 in a trio of non-conference matches against Ball State, No. 15 Loyola and Harvard.

NORTHRIDGE ON THE NET

Follow Cal State Matador volleyball online at the official online home of Cal State Northridge athletics, www.GoMatadors.com. All Matador home matches and a majority of road matches will feature live stats via Gametracker. In addition, select home and road matches will be broadcast live with Mark Schuermann handling the play-by-play and Alex Jones providing analysis. Fans can also follow the Matadors at Twitter.com/gomatadors and YouTube.com/northridgeathletics. Fans can also view and print the Matadors 2012 Record Book online at GoMatadors.com. The guide features statistics and a complete men's volleyball history.

TO RECAP

After rolling over Ball State and No. 15 Loyola earlier in the week, 12th-ranked Cal State Northridge ran into a buzz saw in Harvard as the Crimson handed the Matadors a 25-17, 25-20, 22-25, 25-22 non-conference loss Saturday night in The Matadome. The visiting Crimson turned the tables on the recently hot-hitting Matadors as Harvard hit a blistering .463 in winning the first two sets. Meanwhile, Matt Stork and John Baker, Northridge's hottest hitters over the last week, each hit negative in a combined 25 swings. Stork had three kills (-.188) and Baker also had three kills (-.111) before being replaced in the Matador lineup. Brandon Lebrock (.333) and Julius Hoefer (.292) wound up leading Northridge in kills with 12 apiece while Drew Staker (.385) and Jared Moore (.294) each chipped in seven kills.

MATADORS SLIP TO 13TH IN AVCA POLL

The surge to re-enter the top-10 went the other way this week as Cal State Northridge dropped one spot to 13th in this week's AVCA Coaches Top-15 Poll released Mar. 12. Following wins over Ball State and No. 15 Loyola and a loss to unranked Harvard, the Matadors earned 52 points in this week's poll, down 12 points from last week's poll. Northridge, which had been ranked in the AVCA Top-15 for 155 consecutive weeks prior to Feb. 7, 2011, has now been ranked in all 11 polls this season. UC Irvine (16-3), Northridge's Wednesday opponent, took over the top spot this week as the Anteaters earned 11 first-place votes and 265 total points. UCLA (18-3) dropped to second followed by USC (13-4), BYU (15-4) and Stanford (14-5). Lewis (15-4) is sixth this week followed by Pepperdine (9-9), Penn State (13-3), Long Beach State (10-9) and Ohio State (13-6). This week's top-15 is filled out by Hawaii (7-12), Pacific (6-14), the Matadors (8-11), UC Santa Barbara (5-13), and UC San Diego (4-16).

NORTHRIDGE THIS WEEK

The Matadors head into the homestretch of their current nine-match homestand looking to improve on their 6-3 home record. Northridge, 3-2 on the homestand, was upset in four sets by an unranked Harvard squad as homestand passed the midpoint last week. UC Irvine is one of two MPSF teams that have yet to drop a road contest this season as the Anteaters are 6-0 away from Irvine. UCI topped the Matadors in straight sets at the Bren Center on Feb. 22 and has now won five straight over Northridge. The Matadors have won 16 of the 23 matches between the two teams in The Matadome. UC San Diego picked up its second conference win last week knocking off UC Santa Barbara in four sets on the road. The Tritons are 3-6 in nine road matches this season and have not won a match in Northridge since 1986.

MPSF PLAYOFF PICTURE

With the final month and a half of the 2012 regular season upon us, the conference standings become more and more important with each passing week. The Matadors  (4-8) currently sit in eighth-place in the MPSF and would need to hang on to at least that spot in order to qualify for the MPSF Tournament in late April. Northridge carries a one-game lead over Hawaii (4-10), a 1.5-game lead over Pacific (4-11) and a two-game lead over UC Santa Barbara (3-11) heading into this week's matches. The Matadors have 10 conference matches remaining (six home, four away) while Hawaii has eight matches remaining (four home, four road) including two in Northridge next week. Pacific has seven matches remaining (four home, three road) and will host the Matadors on Apr. 6 while UCSB has eight regular season matches left (four home, four road).     

ROUND TWO AGAINST NUMBER ONE

For the second time in two weeks, the Matadors will host the top-ranked team in the country as UC Irvine visits The Matadome on Wednesday. Northridge hosted then-No. 1 UCLA on Mar. 2 falling to the Bruins in straight sets. The Matadors have lost their last four matches against top-ranked squads losing to UCLA this season and USC twice in 2011. Prior to that, the Matadors had won two of their last three over number ones defeating Stanford in 2010 and Pepperdine in 2009. Northridge is 4-23 in matches against teams ranked number one in the AVCA Top-15 poll dating back to the 2000 season. Prior to defeating Stanford in 2010, the Matadors had hosted three top-ranked teams since 2005, falling twice to UC Irvine (2006, 2007), twice to UCLA (2005, 2012) and once to USC (2011).

A STORK RESURGENCE

Outside of a pair of off-nights, senior Matt Stork has enjoyed a resurgence over the past two weeks. Stork has been steady on the outside for much of the season but turned it up a notch starting with the UCSB match on Feb. 29. Stork pounded a season-high 20 kills while hitting .308 against the Gauchos and followed that up with 20 kills on .395 hitting against Loyola. In between,  he notched 16 kills in hitting a season-high .682 in 22 attacks against Ball State. When Stork hits at least .290, the Matadors are now 7-1 this season. With 10 aces over his last five matches, the senior now ranks fifth in Matador rally scoring history with 94 career aces.

NORTHRIDGE NOTES

With a pair of block assists against Harvard, junior Drew Staker is now just a pair of blocks away from setting a personal season-high in total blocks. With a team-high 11 solo stuffs, Staker also leads the Matadors with 64 total blocks this season ... Danny Rodrick is now 4-3 in his seven matches as Northridge's starting setter ... After hitting .362 over three matches last week, the Matadors have upped their team hitting percentage to a season-high .260 this week. Northridge improved its hitting by nearly 20 percentage points after hitting .462 against Ball State and .452 against Loyola ... For the Matadors, Saturday's 3-1 loss to Harvard was just the second loss at home to an unranked team since 2004. Pacific snapped a string of 24 consecutive home wins over unranked opponents when the Tigers swept the Matadors last season.

CAMPBELL PICKS UP 225TH CAREER WIN

Having become Cal State Northridge men's volleyball's all-time winningest coach in 2010, Jeff Campbell picked up the latest milestone win of his 15-year Matador career. Northridge's 3-0 win at UC San Diego on Feb. 24 gave the Matador boss his 225th career victory. Campbell, who now has a career record of 228-200 (.533), reached the 150 and 200 career wins over the last four seasons and now sets his sights on his 250th career win. Currently, the third-longest tenured head coach at Cal State Northridge (men's golf coach Jim Bracken is in his 26th season & men's basketball head coach Bobby Braswell is in his 16th season) Campbell has posted double figure win totals in 12 of his 14 previous seasons on the bench and notched a career-best 24 wins in 2009.

UP NEXT

Following matches against UC Irvine and UC San Diego this week, the Matadors will conclude the season-long, nine-match homestand next week with a pair of matches against Hawai'i (Mar. 23-24). Northridge will then conclude the regular season with four of its final six matches on the road beginning Mar. 29 at BYU.

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