Before his men's volleyball match against Cal State Northridge Tuesday night, USC Coach Bob Yoder said he was anxious to finish the week.
"We have a rough schedule during the next few days," Yoder said. "We have a match today, Friday and Saturday.
"Then we can relax."
The Matadors, however, soundly beat the Trojans in that department. CSUN relaxed shortly after the start of the match, and USC went on to a 15-9, 15-5, 15-11 rout in a California Intercollegiate Volleyball Assn. match.
For the second time this season, CSUN, which fell to a dismal 2-9, played the best team in the country and hinted at an upset. Last month, the Matadors went back and forth for nearly two hours before losing to then top-ranked Pepperdine.
Tuesday at USC, CSUN outplayed the top-ranked Trojans (9-0) for the first 15 minutes of the first game. But the other 50 minutes made CSUN Coach John Price mad.
"We make too many errors," Price said. "When we pass the ball, we can play their game."
The Matadors took a 7-5 lead in the first game because of strategic and powerful offensive play by John Buffington and Eddie DeGrasse. With the score tied, 4-4, Buffington confused the Trojans by meeting a serve with a quick kill.
DeGrasse then contributed by dumping the ball gently over the net in front of the unprepared USC team.
But the Trojans got their potent offense working moments later, keyed by the hard spiking of Adam Johnson. The All-American was never concerned about being upset by CSUN.
"I wasn't worried," Johnson said, "Not at all. We're tough enough to not have to worry if we get a little behind. We always seem to outlast other teams."
As the second game got under way, it was obvious that it wasn't going to be a matter of outlasting the Matadors as much as overpowering them.
CSUN's Mike Bird made several powerful kills, knocking defenders to the floor, but it was the Matadors' last gasp. The Trojans won the 15-minute game by hitting balls at the Matadors that they were unable to handle.
"They've got talent," Yoder said of the Matadors, "but they're real inconsistent. We didn't make a lot of points. They made a lot of errors."
It was more of the same problems for CSUN in the third game. USC earned points for serving the ball and watching it land between Matador defenders. Another point was added to the Trojans score when Scott Juhl was attempting to set the ball and it slipped right through his fingers and onto his feet.
DeGrasse--who sat out the second game--cut a 13-4 CSUN deficit to 14-11 by playing with an intensity that forced the Trojans to take Northridge seriously.
"I just get up for the good teams," DeGrasse said. "They put up a bigger block and that makes a better target. I just hit it off their hands."
And in many cases in the final rallies with USC, and in the match against Pepperdine, he hit it through their hands. But he didn't do it often enough, and then USC's Johnson took control.
The senior outside hitter made 18 kills and demonstrated how to attack the net by arching his 6-3 frame halfway over the net and slamming the ball, knocking down Matador defenders like bowling pins.