Matadors Conclude Home Schedule Against UC Santa Barbara, Penn State This Week

April 7, 2010

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Match #26

No. 11 UC Santa Barbara (11-14, 8-11 MPSF) at No. 4 Northridge (18-7, 13-6 MPSF)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - 7 p.m. PDT

The Matadome (1,600) - Northridge, Calif.

Live Stats: (Gametracker)

Match #27

No. 9 Penn State (20-5) at No. 4 Northridge (18-7)

Saturday, April 10, 2010 - 7 p.m. PDT

The Matadome (1,600) - Northridge, Calif.

Live Stats: (Gametracker)

FOR STARTERS Fourth-ranked Cal State Northridge (18-7, 13-6 MPSF) wraps up the home portion of the 2010 regular season this week as the Matadors host UC Santa Barbara () and Penn State (20-9, 9-0 EIVA). Northridge and UCSB tangle in the Matadors' MPSF home finale Wednesday while the Nittany Lions come to The Matadome for a non-conference match on Saturday. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. in The Matadome. Northridge is still in the hunt to host an MPSF Tournament match, the MPSF Quarterfinals take place on the home court of the top four MPSF teams.

SERIES HISTORIES Wednesday's match between the Matadors and UC Santa Barbara is the 78th meeting all-time between the two schools. Northridge trails 42-35 in the series but has won seven straight over the Gauchos, including a 3-1 win at UCSB's season-opening Invitational  on Jan. 7 and a 3-0 win at Rob Gym on Mar. 10. Saturday's match is the ninth meeting all-time between the Matadors and Penn State. Northridge trails 5-3 in the series and the two teams have not met since the 1998 season when the Nittany Lions won in three in The Matadome. The last Northridge win came during the 1993 season when the Matadors defeated Penn State in the NCAA Semifinals.

TO RECAP In their second match against a top-ranked team this season, fifth-ranked Cal State Northridge turned back No. 1 Stanford, 30-26, 21-30, 31-29, 30-27 Friday as senior Theo Edwards put down a team-high 17 kills. The Matadors, who fell at No. 1 Pepperdine in their first bid to unseat a number one team on Feb. 26, dealt the Cardinal their first loss in their last nine matches. Edwards, who rebounded from a recent string of tough hitting matches, led five Matador hitters in double figures with 17 kills (.316). Edwards had his best hitting night in terms of kills and hitting percentage since Feb. 17 at UC Irvine when he also had 17 kills while hitting .333. The senior also had 10 digs on Friday to post his second career double-double. In a three-set sweep over Pacific on Saturday, John Baker hit .667 with a match-high 17 kills as Northridge rolled to the 30-23, 30-23, 30-20 victory. Baker, who did not commit a single hitting error through the first two sets, wound up hitting .667 with 17 kills and one error in 24 swings. The redshirt freshman also added six digs, two aces and a pair of blocks. Seniors Kevin McKniff and Mike Gaudino also hit well as each had eight kills with McKniff hitting .727 in 11 swings and Gaudino hitting .500 in 16 attacks. McKniff also contributed four blocks (one solo) while Gaudino added one ace and six digs.

PAIR OF WINS PROPEL MATADORS BACK TO FOURTH IN AVCA TOP-15 Following a four-set win over top-ranked Stanford and a three-set sweep over Pacific, Cal State Northridge gained back one spot moving up to fourth in this week's AVCA Coaches Top-15 Poll. Northridge, which received a season-high 237 points on Feb. 1, earned 194 points this week and are now fourth for the first time this season. Stanford (16-5), which became the fourth team this season to hold down the top spot this season, remained number one for the fourth straight week despite falling in Northridge on Friday. The Cardinal earned 11 of 16 first-place votes while BYU (18-7) moved up to second picking up three first-place votes. Pepperdine (14-7) slipped to third followed by the Matadors and Hawai'i (17-8). USC (13-9) is sixth followed by UCLA (14-11), Long Beach State (12-13), Penn State (20-5) and UC Irvine (12-13). Loyola-Chicago (18-3) and UC Santa Barbara (11-14) tie for 11th while Ohio State (16-7), UC San Diego (8-17) and Ball State (14-9) round out the top 15. Northridge has now been ranked in the AVCA Top-15 for 147 consecutive weeks. The last time the Matadors did not rank among the nation's top-15 was the first poll (Jan. 15) of the 2002 season. By earning three number one rankings this season, Northridge has spent a total of six weeks as the number one team in its history.

CAREER RECORDS UPDATE Several Matadors have made inroads on the career charts during the 2010 season. Senior Kevin McKniff has moved up to third in career aces (113) and is fourth in total blocks (382). McKniff is also fourth in block assists (351) and is second to teammate Jacek Ratacjzak (.454) in hitting percentage (.453). Fellow senior Mike Gaudino has moved into fourth in aces with 110 and also ranks sixth in digs with 713. Senior libero Ali'i Keohohou now ranks third with 878 career digs and is first in digs per game averaging 2.44 in his career. In just under two seasons, sophomore setter Matt Stork already ranks sixth in career assists with 2,809.

MPSF TOURNAMENT CHASE Stanford (13-5) and Pepperdine (12-6) are the only two teams that control their own fate for the MPSF Tournament's number one seed. Those two teams, along with BYU (14-6), the Matadors (13-6) and Hawai'i (13-7) have locked up tournament spots with the top four spots to be sorted out over the next two weeks. Northridge would guarantee a spot in the top four, and host a Quarterfinal match, with wins over UCSB on Wednesday and at BYU (Apr. 16-17). Stanford and Pepperdine meet in a key match on Friday.

NORTHRIDGE NOTES After not playing in four of the Matadors' previous 10 matches, junior Tanner Nua came off the bench against both Stanford and Pacific last week with solid results. Nua tallied 11 kills against the Cardinal, the most he had in a match since putting down 15 at UC Irvine on Feb. 17. He then added four kills while hitting .333 in limited action against Pacific. Nua is closing in on 200 kills for the second straight season ... Senior Mike Gaudino also had a solid week as he pounded 19 kills in two matches while hitting .474. Gaudino also matched his career-high with 18 digs in the four-set upset win over No. 1 Stanford ... Junior transfer Justin Burridge and redshirt freshman Jared Moore made their first appearances for the Matadors against Pacific on Saturday. Both came on in the final set with Burridge posting a kill in two swings and Moore recording two kills in three attacks. Both also got in on a block as the Matadors won in three ... After a rough outing against Stanford, John Baker bounced back to nail a match-high 17 kills against Pacific.

SCOUTING UC SANTA BARBARA (11-14, 8-11 MPSF) With three conference matches remaining, the Gauchos are currently in ninth place in the MPSF, one-half game behind eighth place Long Beach State. UCSB plays at Northridge Wednesday and hosts Penn State Friday. Junior OH Jeff Menzel leads the Gauchos and the MPSF in kills averaging 5.35 kpg. Menzel has a conference-best 535 kills in 100 games this season. Junior OPP Cullen Irons adds 3.26 kpg for the Gauchos who are hitting .277 as a team. The Matadors have won 16 of the 30 matches against UCSB all-time in The Matadome dating back to 1978.

SCOUTING PENN STATE (20-5) The ninth-ranked Nittany Lions travel to UC Santa Barbara on Friday before heading to Northridge on Saturday. Penn State is halfway through a six-match road trip having beaten No. 15 Ball State (3-2) and IPFW (3-1) and lost to Ruthers-Newark (3-1) to open the trip. Senior middle Max Lipsitz leads the nation in hitting at .534 while averaging 3.64 kpg. Senior OPP Will Price leads Penn State averaging 4.40 kpg while sophomore OH Joe Sunder adds 3.90 kpg. Penn State is hitting .336 as a team, third-best in the country. The Nittany Lions have split two matches in Northridge.


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