UC San Diego volleyball Coach Digger Graybill felt that although his Tritons defeated Cal State Northridge, 15-17, 15-4, 15-11, 6-15, 16-14, Tuesday night, the Matadors might have been looking past them to their match tonight against USC.
According to CSUN Coach John Price, Graybill was right.
"Everything we did tonight was in preparation for USC," Price said. "This match means nothing to us except for pride. We've been looking forward to the USC match all week."
The Matadors, preparing for third-ranked USC (5-1), concentrated this week on their serving, Price said. All that practice made anything but perfect as CSUN had 18 serving errors, many at crucial moments in the match.
San Diego took a 13-11 lead in the fifth game on two Scott McGregor kills. Scott Brecker of CSUN countered, scoring on two kills, and Scott Juhl added another to give the Matadors a 14-13 advantage.
CSUN served for match point seven times. But Mark Stein's hit into the net put CSUN behind, 15-14. Eric Hallman of San Diego won it by spiking the ball off the Northridge block.
The Matadors, (6-5 overall, 1-2 in the California Intercollegiate Volleyball Assn.) tied the score at 13 in the first game after trailing, 8-13, on fine offensive play by Brecker.
Brecker, usually a reserve, played the entire match in place of Jim Meaney and Ed DeGrasse, both out with shoulder injuries. The Matadors won the first game, but CSUN substituted heavily in the second game, and the Tritons proved too powerful offensively.
Price said he felt serving in the third game was a "huge problem." Eight of CSUN's service errors came in the third game.
CSUN, trailing 2-1 entering the fourth game, led 4-2 and stretched their margin to 8-2 on four solo blocks, two by setter Mike Bird. The Matadors opened the lead to 13-5 and closed out the Tritons, 15-6, on a kill by Chuck English.
San Diego jumped out, 5-1, in the final game and went ahead, 8-2, consistently outplaying Northridge.
Price substituted Juhl and Stein and called time out with CSUN trailing, 9-2. The Tritons hit a skid, and CSUN tied it at 9 behind the serving of Stein and the offense of English and Bird. English led the Matadors with 26 kills, and Bird contributed 19.