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VALLEY/VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Matadors Making Best of New Life

Volleyball: CSUN's resurrected team, dropped last summer, beats USC in five games.

January 21, 1998|MIKE BRESNAHAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NORTHRIDGE — Something has gone strangely awry with the men's volleyball experiment at Cal State Northridge.

The Matadors, resurrected after being left for dead last summer, sat up, blinked their eyes and arose to defeat young but talented USC, 9-15, 15-6, 6-15, 15-11, 16-14, in a nonconference match Tuesday night at Northridge.

The Matadors, a unique mixture of freshmen, walk-ons and junior college transfers, won their first important match in a season that almost wasn't.

Men's volleyball was one of four programs eliminated at Northridge last summer for gender-equity and budget reasons, only to be reinstated later.

"This match is not only huge for our program, but for Cal State Northridge," first-year Coach Jeff Campbell said. "When was the last time any sport at Northridge beat USC? It's big."

Actually, the Matadors beat USC last year in an early season nonconference match, but the point was clear--the team made a statement.

The Matadors (2-1) almost turned the match into a question mark, blowing a 14-11 lead in a rally-scored fifth game and giving up three consecutive points to fall into a 14-14 tie.

But Junior Mosones' powerful kill put Northridge ahead, 15-14, and Craig Dennis of USC hit long on match point.

"I think we proved something to ourselves," said senior Chad Strickland, who delivered 19 kills a week after getting only eight in a three-game loss to Pepperdine.

After getting outblocked, 15-3, by Pepperdine, the Matadors were outblocked by USC in the first game, 4-0. The Trojans (1-2) outblocked Northridge overall, 15-12.

But Northridge answered with eight blocks in the second game, three by David Money, who played his first match after being bothered by a sore shoulder.

The Trojans reasserted themselves in the third game behind eight kills by former Harvard-Westlake High outside hitter Trevor Julian, who finished with 14 kills.

The Matadors squandered an 8-3 lead in the fourth game and trailed, 9-8, before Money, Strickland and Mosones cranked up the attack, combining for the Matadors' next eight kills.

Mosones, a former setter at Channel Islands High, finished with 22 kills.

The Trojans, who start three freshmen, were led by senior Szilard Kovacs, who had 22 kills.

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