Second-Ranked Matadors Head to No. 7 Stanford and Pacific This Week

March 24, 2009

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AFTER 6-1 HOMESTAND, NO. 2 MATADORS TRAVEL TO NO. 7 STANFORD, PACIFIC THIS WEEK After three straight non-conference matches, second-ranked Cal State Northridge (19-3, 12-3 MPSF) returns to MPSF play this week as the Matadors travel to No. 7 Stanford (14-8, 7-6 MPSF) on Friday and Pacific (3-19, 0-13 MPSF) on Saturday. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. Northridge, coming off a successful 6-1 homestand, has won three straight coming in to this week's matches. The Matadors, 5-2 on the road this season, trail 31-23 in the all-time series with Stanford and lead 18-8 in the all-time series with Pacific.

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

MATADORS SWEEP THREE STRAIGHT NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS Juniors Shane Nelson and Theo Edwards combined for 28 kills off the bench to lead second-ranked Cal State Northridge to a 30-14, 30-21, 30-28 win over the New Jersey Institute of Technology in a non-conference match Tuesday at The Matadome. Playing mostly reserves for much of the match, Northridge dominated the first two sets but had to struggle to win the third and final set. On Wednesday, Northridge defeated Lees-McRae 30-23, 30-21, 30-19. Senior All-American Eric Vance did not start for the first time this season but came on midway through the first set and wound up with a match-high 14 kills. Vance, who had three hitting errors in 22 swings to hit .500, also added three aces. Junior Mike Gaudino also had a solid night as he added a double-double of 11 kills and a match-high 11 digs to go with a match-high four aces. Fellow junior Shane Nelson earned his first start of the season and responded with 10 kills while hitting .286. On Saturday, Vance pounded a match-high 21 kills as second-ranked Cal State Northridge defeated Hope International 30-16, 30-17, 30-23 in its final non-conference match.

NORTHRIDGE REMAINS SECOND IN AVCA, THIRD IN VOLLEYBALL MAGAZINE Three straight non-conference home wins last week kept the Matadors second for the second straight week in the Bison/AVCA Top 15 poll (Mar. 23). Northridge, which has been ranked second five times this season, received 220 points this week, down 14 points from the season-high 234 points the Matadors received two weeks ago. UC Irvine (17-3), the fourth team to hold the top spot this season, remained number one for the second consecutive week followed by Northridge, Pepperdine (14-2), USC (13-6) and BYU (13-8). Spots 6-10 are occupied by Long Beach State (10-10), Stanford (14-8), Penn State (17-3), UC San Diego (10-10) and UCLA (9-12). Lewis (16-5), UC Santa Barbara (6-13), Hawai'i (6-13), Ball State (13-7) and Loyola-Chicago (10-8) round out this week's top-15 teams.

THREE-WAY BATTLE FOR FIRST AS HOMESTRETCH BEGINS Three teams, the Matadors included, are within one-half game of first place as the the MPSF season heads into the homestretch. With seven matches remaining in the regular season (eight for UCI and Pepperdine), the Anteaters and Waves are tied for first at 12-2 with the Matadors third at 12-3. USC and BYU are both tied for fourth at 9-5. Northridge plays five of its last seven matches on the road while UCI and Pepperdine have four at home and four on the road to close the regular season. The top four teams in the final conference standings will host Quarterfinal matches when the MPSF Tournament begins on Apr. 25. The highest remaining seed left from the Quarterfinals will host the Semifinals and Finals on Apr. 30 and May 2.

MATADORS IMPROVE TO 12-1 AT HOME Three non-conference wins last week not only improved the Matadors' record over non-conference foes to 7-0 but Northridge improved to 12-1 on the home court. With two home matches still to come (Apr. 1 vs. Pepperdine, Apr. 3 vs. USC), the Matadors can still surpass the 1991 Northridge team for most home wins in a season. The 1991 squad finished 13-1 at home and last season's Matador team finished one win shy at 12-1. Overall, Northridge can still win a school-record 26 regular season matches which would surpass the 1993 and 2008 teams that currently hold the standard with 23 wins.

VANCE SURPASSES 400 KILLS Senior outside hitter Eric Vance has eclipsed 400 kills in a season for the second time in his Northridge career. Vance, who pounded a season-high 459 kills as a junior in 2008, added 40 kills in three matches last week and now has 407 kills this season. Vance also has a team-high 43 service aces this season which is over 25% of the Matadors' team total of 167. Northridge has out-aced its opponents by an incredible margin of 167-67 after 22 matches.

CHANGES TO THE STARTING LINEUP After not changing the starting lineup for the first 20 matches of the season, head coach Jeff Campbell mixed things up a bit in last week's non-conference matches. After keeping the same starting lineup (McKniff, Ratajczak, Stork, Vance, Gaudino, Keohohou) since day one, Campbell inserted Theo Edwards, Shane Nelson and Kaleo Baxter against Lees-McRae before returning to his original lineup against Hope.

NATIONAL LEADERS As a team the Matadors are the national leaders in three of the seven team categories. Northridge currently leads the nation in kills per game (16.47), aces per game (2.11) and assists per game (15.15). The Matadors also rank third in team hitting percentage (.335) which trails only Penn State (.383) and Pepperdine (.340). Individually, freshman setter Matt Stork is the national leader in assists per game at 13.78 apg while senior Eric Vance ranks fifth in aces (0.56) and is sixth in kills (5.29). Jacek Ratajczak also ranks fifth in hitting at .469 and Ali'i Keohohou is seventh in digs at 2.88.

NORTHRIDGE NEWS AND NOTES Redshirt freshman Ari Feldman has been added to the roster. The 6-8 middle blocker from Santa Monica played in three sets last week hitting .500 against both NJIT and Hope International ... Matt Rice and Jesse Bunker also saw their first collegiate action in last week's matches. Rice had 12 kills in two matches while Bunker added four kills against NJIT. Nelson had 15 kills against NJIT and came back with 10 in the win over Lees-McRae ... Junior Mike Gaudino posted his fourth double-double with 11 kills and 11 digs vs. Lees-McRae.

SCOUTING THE CARDINAL Seventh-ranked Stanford comes into Friday's match with a 14-8 overall record and the Cardinal is 7-6 in the MPSF. Stanford had its six-match winning streak snapped with a three-set non-conference loss to Cal Baptist on Saturday. The Cardinal is led by junior OPP Evan Romero who averages a team-high 4.49 kills per game. Sophomore OH Spencer McLachlin adds 271 kills while averaging 3.61 kills per game. John Kosty (UCSB, 1987) is in his third season as head coach at Stanford and sports a 33-44 overall and school record. Series Story: The Matadors trail 31-23 in the all-time series with the Cardinal but have won five straight matches including a pair of wins this season. Northridge won 3-1 in Santa Barbara on Jan. 10 and also won 3-1 in The Matadome on Feb. 20.

SCOUTING THE TIGERS Pacific, which hosts UC Santa Barbara on Friday, comes into this week's action with a 3-19 overall record and the Tigers are 0-13 in the MPSF. Pacific split a pair of matches last week, defeating Juniata (3-1) before falling to Cal Baptist (3-1). The win over Juniata snapped a 14-match losing streak for the Tigers. Pacific is led by freshman MB Sean Daley who averages a team-best 2.20 kpg while junior OH Jason Borchin adds 2.10 kpg. Joe Wortmann (Loyola Marymount, 1978) is in his 17th season as head coach at Pacific and sports a 172-281 overall and school record. Series Story: The Matadors lead 18-8 in the all-time series with the Tigers. Northridge has won four straight over Pacific, including a 3-0 win on Feb. 19, and is 6-6 all-time in 12 matches in Stockton.

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