Friday, November 27, 2015         


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Northridge presents challenges

By Stephen Tsai


Not even Google Maps can offer an easy volleyball path through Hawaii.

“The last few years, we have not played very well at all in Hawaii,” said coach Jeff Campbell, whose Cal State Northridge volleyball team faces UH tonight and tomorrow night. “We’re hoping to change that this year.”

The Matadors, who played in the 2010 NCAA final four, are enduring a 6-18 season in which they have lost 13 of 17 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation matches. But through mistrials and errors, the Matadors have cobbled together a lineup that offers long-term hope.


MPSF matches

>> Who: Cal State Northridge (6-18, 4-13 MPSF) at Hawaii (12-11, 10-8)
>> When: 7 p.m. today and tomorrow
>> TV: KFVE, Ch. 5
>> Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM tomorrow

Three weeks ago, Matt Stork moved from setter to outside hitter. In four of the past six matches, Stork has double-digit kills. And with Kapaa High alumnus Danny Rodrick at the controls, the Matadors are hitting .259. Their efficiency was .220 before Rodrick was installed as the starting setter.

“Danny is 5-10, but he does a nice job for us,” Campbell said.

Campbell is hopeful that opposite Tanner Nua, one of the MPSF’s hardest hitters, can gain control of his spikes. Nua, who is 6-8 and 230 pounds, leads the Matadors with 2.55 kills per set, but is hitting .152.

“He’s giving it his all, but he’s been so inconsistent,” Campbell said. “When he hits over .200, we’re in matches. When he hits below that, we’re in trouble.”

To ease Nua’s work demands, the Matadors like to attack from the middle, which should create options for the Warriors.

With the return of Brennon Dyer, who missed a month of matches because of an ankle injury, the Warriors gain another powerful swing in the front row. Shane Welch, a 6-foot-9 freshman from Florida, emerged as an active blocker in Dyer’s absence.

“I started picking up the groove, thanks to the coaches,” Welch said.

Against Long Beach State, Welch helped contain middle blocker Antwain Aguillard to 10 kills and .160 hitting in two matches. The next two matches, against Pacific and Stanford, Aguillard pounded 41 kills with no errors in 59 swings.

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