Matadors Face a Trio of Non-Conference Opponents This Week Beginning Tuesday Against NJIT

March 17, 2009

HOMESTAND CONCLUDES WITH THREE NON-CONFERENCE TILTS No. 2 Cal State Northridge (16-3) wraps up its season-long, seven-match homestand this week a trio of non-conference matches. The Matadors host NJIT on Tuesday, Lees-McRae on Wednesday and Hope International on Saturday. All matches are scheduled for a 7 p.m. first serve. The Matadors had their season-long, 10-match win streak snapped in five sets by No. 2 UC Irvine last Friday. Following this week's matches, the Matadors head to Northern California to take on Stanford (Mar. 27) and Pacific (Mar. 28) before returning to The Matadome for their final two home matches of the season.

NORTHRIDGE ON THE NET All Matador home matches and select road matches will be available via Gametracker at GoMatadors.com.

MATADORS SPLIT WITH NO. 11 UCLA, NO. 2 UC IRVINE Senior Eric Vance and sophomore Tanner Nua combined for 41 kills as the top-ranked Matadors held off the upset bid of No. 11 UCLA to win in four sets (30-20, 26-30, 30-28, 30-28) on Wednesday at The Matadome. Vance led Northridge with 23 kills as he hit an impressive .528 in 36 attacks. He also added three aces as he served tough throughout the match. Nua rebounded from a pair of tough outings against BYU last week to pound 18 kills while hitting .433. The sophomore opposite also added one ace and seven digs. The Matador middles, Kevin McKniff and Jacek Ratajczak each added seven kills as McKniff hit .538 and served up a pair of aces. Both players also posted a match-high four blocks. On Friday in a battle for the MPSF lead, UC Irvine dealt the top-ranked Matadors their first home loss with a 27-30, 30-28, 30-23, 26-30, 15-10 win. Vance led Northridge with a match-high 20 kills (.302) and narrowly missed his sixth double-double after adding nine digs. Vance also served two aces, the sixth-straight match he has had at least two aces. Nua added 17 kills (.184) and had four of Northridge's seven aces. Ratajczak (13 kills, .184) and Mike Gaudino (11 kills, .240) also reached double figures in kills. Gaudino added seven digs and the Matadors' other ace while Ratajczak had a team-high six blocks. Libero Ali'i Keohohou posted a match-high 14 digs while Matt Stork had 63 assists while leading Northridge to a .305 hitting clip.

NORTHRIDGE SLIPS TO SECOND IN BISON/AVCA TOP-15 POLL After two weeks holding down the number one spot for two weeks, the Matadors slipped one spot to second in this weeks Bison/AVCA Top 15 poll (Mar. 16). Northridge (16-3) received 219 received points this week but was overtaken by UC Irvine (17-3) which received 15 of 16 first-place votes and 239 points this week. The Anteaters are the fourth team to hold the number one spot this season after Pepperdine, Penn State and Northridge. Pepperdine (13-2) remains third this week followed by USC (13-5) and Long Beach State (10-8) rounds out this week's top-five. Stanford (14-7), Penn State (15-3), BYU (11-8), UC San Diego (10-10) and UCLA (9-12) occupy spots 6-10. The MAr. 16 poll is rounded out by Lewis (14-5), UC Santa Barbara (6-13), Hawai'i (4-13), Ohio State (8-8) and Loyola-Chicago (9-7).

MATADORS' HOT START CONTINUES Despite having its 10-match win streak snapped Friday against UC Irvine, Northridge's 3-1 win over UCLA gave the Matadors 16 wins in their first 19 matches which continues its best start in school history. The 2008 Matadors won 16 of their first 20 matches, so this year's team is still on pace to top that mark. This season's 12-3 MPSF start is also the best in team history.

NORTHRIDGE IN NON-CONFERENCE MATCHES The Matadors have always had success against non-conference opponents and will have their next opportunity with three non-conference tilts this week. Over the last five seasons, Northridge is 21-1 (.955) overall and 16-0 (1.000) at home against non-conference opponents after defeating Cal Baptist earlier this season. The Matadors are 1-0 all-time against NJIT having beaten the Highlanders in three sets in 2007. Northridge and Lees-McRae have never met and the Matadors are 2-0 all-time against Hope International after posting three-set sweeps in both the 2005 and 2008 seasons.

VANCE CAREER UPDATE Senior Eric Vance became just the eighth player in Matador men's volleyball history to surpass 1,400 career kills. With 43 kills in two matches last week, he now has 1,410 kills passing Jason Hughes (1,403) into seventh place. Vance also moved moved into sixth place on the career list in total attacks with 3,107 and is now just one dig away from 400 in his career.

SCOUTING THIS WEEK'S OPPONENTS New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), out of the EIVA, dropped a three-set match at No. 5 USC on Friday to drop to 3-13 on the season. Freshman Raphael Mattos led the NJIT attack with a match-high 11 kills and seven digs. Senior Amobi Armstrong, who has a team-high 204 kills this season, added nine kills against the Trojans. Lees-McRae, an NCAA Division II school from Banner Elk, N.C., is 12-2 after defeating St. Ambrose 3-2 on Saturday. Chad Mercado, who averages 2.96 kpg, pounded a match-high 24 kills in the win. For the season, Colin Kelly leads Lees-McRae averaging 4.27 kills per game. Hope International improved to 12-9 this season with a 3-0 sweep over NJIT on Friday. Junior Alex Figueiredo, who averages a team-high 4.83 kills per game, had a double-double with 21 kills and a season-high 14 digs.

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