Top-Ranked Matadors Open Seven-Match Homestand Thursday Against No. 8 BYU

March 3, 2009

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NORTHRIDGE OPENS UP SEASON-LONG, SEVEN-MATCH HOMESTAND AGAINST NO. 8 BYU Top-ranked Cal State Northridge (13-2, 9-2 MPSF) opens up a season-long, seven-match homestand this week as the Matadors host eighth-ranked Brigham Young for a two-match series beginning Thursday at 7 p.m. The two teams will also square off on Friday at 7 p.m. Northridge, winners of a season-best seven straight matches, took over the number one ranking in the Bison/AVCA Top-15 Poll this week after defeating then No. 1 Pepperdine and No. 5 USC on the road last week. The Matadors come into this week trailing MPSF-leading UC Irvine by just one-half game in the conference standings. Northridge trials 27-17 in the all-time series with BYU and are 8-9 all-time against the Cougars in The Matadome.

NORTHRIDGE ON THE NET All Matador home matches and select road matches will be available via Gametracker at In addition, Thursday's match against BYU will be broadcast live with the voice of Matador men's volleyball, Cory Bluemling handling the call. To access the broadcast click the following link:

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MATADORS UPSET NO. 1 PEPPERDINE, SWEEP NO. 5 USC Northridge wins at Firestone Fieldhouse have been few and far between over the years. Bringing a 5-26 record all-time into Wednesday's match in Malibu, the Matadors also had the pleasure of taking on the top-ranked team in the country. That made Northridge's five-set win all the more special as the Matadors pulled out a 30-24, 30-22, 33-35, 26-30, 15-12 win over the top-ranked Waves. Eric Vance led Northridge with a match-high 23 kills to go with 14 digs for his his second consecutive double-double and fifth this season. Vance hit a solid .315 in 54 swings. Sophomore Tanner Nua matched Vance by setting a new career high with 23 kills of his own. On Saturday, Vance pounded a match-high 18 kills and Jacek Ratajczak and Nua each added 11 as Northridge swept No. 5 USC 30-23, 34-32, 30-26. Vance has 18 kills while hitting .455 and also added a pair of aces, four digs and one block in the win. Ratajczak added 11 kills hitting an efficient .588 with just one error in 17 swings.

NORTHRIDGE TOPS BISON/AVCA TOP-15 POLL FOR SECOND TIME IN SCHOOL HISTORY Road wins at then-No. 1 Pepperdine and No. 5 USC pushed the Matadors up three spots to the No. 1 ranking in this week's Bison/AVCA Top 15 poll (Feb. 23). After four consecutive weeks in the No. 4 spot Northridge received 10 of 16 first-place votes and a season-high 230 points. The Matadors, who previously earned a season-high 223 points in both Jan. 19 and Jan. 26 polls, are the third team to hold the number one spot this season after Pepperdine and Penn State. UC Irvine (14-3) is second this week followed by Peppperdine (10-2), Penn State (14-1) and USC (11-4) rounds out this week's top five. Spots 6-10 are occupied by Long Beach State (8-6), Stanford (11-7), BYU (9-6), Lewis (11-3) and UC San Diego (7-9). UCLA (7-10), Hawai'i (3-10), Ohio State (7-7), UC Santa Barbara (4-11) and Ball State (7-4) round out this week's top-15 teams.

ALL KINDS OF FIRSTS AT PEPPERDINE Wednesday's 3-2 win at No. 1 Pepperdine was a first in many ways for the Matadors. Not only was it Northridge's first win at Firestone Fieldhouse since 1996 but it was the Matadors first win over a top-ranked team since defeating No. 1 Hawai'i in February of 2003. The win was also the first five-set win for Northridge in 2009 and was also the Waves first loss at home. The Matadors are the last remaining MPSF team with an unblemished home slate.

MPSF AT MID-POINT At the halfway point of the MPSF campaign, the Matadors sit one-half game behind first place UC Irvine. The Anteaters head into the second half of the season at 10-2 while Northridge and Pepperdine are both one-half game back at 9-2. USC is 1.5 games behind at 8-3 while BYU is in fifth at 7-3. The Matadors played six of their first 11 conference matches on the road and will reverse that with six matches at home in the second half. The six at home are against the best the MPSF has to offer, two with BYU this week then UCLA, UC Irvine, Pepperdine and USC.

HOME SWEET HOME This week the Matadors open a season-long, seven-match homestand with a pair against BYU. Although the homestand is a season-long seven matches it pales in comparison to the 2004 when the Matadors played a school-record 11 consecutive matches at home. That season, Northridge were at home from Feb. 2 through Mar. 24 amassing a record of 7-4 in the process.

VANCE, RATAJCZAK EARN WEEKLY HONORS Senior Eric Vance and junior Jacek Ratajczak picked up Player of the Week awards for their efforts against Pepperdine and USC last week. Vance was honored for the second time this season and third time in his career as he was named Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week after averaging 5.12 kills, 2.25 digs and 5.81 points per game while hitting .368 in 87 swings. Vance also posted his fifth double-double (23 kills, 14 digs) in the win at Pepperdine. Ratajczak picked up the first award of his career after earning MPSF Co-Player of the Week with Kawika Shoji of Stanford. Ratajczak put down a career-high 17 kills while hitting .667 in the win at Pepperdine and then committed just one error in 17 swings at No. 5 USC. For the week, the junior middle hit an impressive .634 with 28 kills and just two errors in 41 attacks.

NORTHRIDGE NOTES Vance has moved into eighth place on the all-time Northridge kills list with 1,339 and is now ninth in career attacks with 2,970. He is also 10th in career digs at 575 ... Sophomore Tanner Nua is averaging 4.10 kills per game while hitting .333 over his last five matches. Nua pounded a career-high 23 kills against Pepperdine which was one kill better than his previous best set one match earlier against Stanford ... Junior Mike Gaudino knocked down a season-high 17 kills against Pepperdine which was one off his career-high ... Of the six individual MPSF statistical categories, the Matadors hold the top spot in half. Ratajczak leads the conference in hitting (.485), Matt Stork leads in assists (14.11) and Vance leads in aces (0.45). As a team, Northridge holds the top spot in opponent hitting (.206), kills per game (16.58) and aces per game (2.16) ... The Matadors' seven-match win is the longest current streak in the MPSF ... After 15 matches, Northridge has an astounding 119-47 advantage over its opponents in service aces and owns a 912-656 edge in kills. The Matadors are also out-hitting their opponents by a wide margin, .326-.206.

SCOUTING THE COUGARS Eighth-ranked BYU comes into this week's pair of matches in Northridge with a 9-6 overall record and the Cougars are 7-3 in the MPSF. BYU took a pair from Pacific last weekend and brings a season-best, four-match win streak into Thursday's opener. The Cougars are 3-3 in six road matches this season. BYU is led by junior OH Andrew Stewart who has a team-high 225 kills. Stewart ranks eighth in the MPSF averaging 3.95 kills per game while junior OPP Mat Taylor has 178 kills (3.96 kpg). Head Coach Shawn Patchell (BYU, 1995) is in his third season as head coach at BYU and sports a 57-16 overall and school record. SERIES STORY The Matadors trail 27-17 in the all-time series with the Cougars. Northridge has dropped five straight to BYU, including a loss in the MPSF semifinals in 2008. The Matadors are 8-9 against the Cougars in The Matadome and split the last meeting in 2007.


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