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Matadors pull off senior night victory over Gauchos

After losing the first game at Santa Barbara to the Gauchos three sets to one on Friday, the Matadors pulled off the victory Saturday night at home to give their...

After losing the first game at Santa Barbara to the Gauchos three sets to one on Friday, the Matadors pulled off the victory Saturday night at home to give their graduating seniors a night to remember.

Coming off a sweep by one-seed Long Beach State last week and a loss to the Gauchos Friday, CSUN (12-17, 3-7 Big West) bounced back and defeated UC Santa Barbara (9-17, 2-8 Big West) Saturday and ended their Big West campaign with a win.

Prior to the game, CSUN honored its 2024 senior class, Taylan Cook, Kyle Hobus, Jano Tello, and Griffin Walters in a pregame ceremony.

“I’ve been through so much on and off the court with all these guys,” Hobus said. “And some of the alumni too are here who i’ve played with, it’s hard to put it into words. It was a great game and we were family, you know?”

The Matadors opened the game down 15-11 but were able to take the lead after going on a 7-2 run after a media timeout to take the lead, 18-17. After the run, CSUN continued to struggle but still held a 23-22 lead over the Gauchos going into the final stretch of the first set. Santa Barbara would rally and go on a 3-0 run over the Matadors and cap off their first set win with a kill from Ben Coordt.

After hitting .64% in the first set, the Gauchos hit .217% in the second. With the Gauchos struggling the Matadors would capitalize and take an 18-14 lead after a 6-0 run started by a Hobus kill. Coming down to the stretch, CSUN would claim the second set 25-21 after an Owen Douphner kill.

The Matadors dominated the third set over the Gauchos, taking an early 11-6 lead over Santa Barbara. CSUN hit .318%, an improvement from the previous set where they hit .294%. Prior to the media timeout, CSUN would have a 15-10 lead and keep that distance over the Gauchos. The Matadors took the third set 25-19.

Despite falling early, the Matadors were able to take the lead in the fourth set with a Walters kill and hold a 9-7 lead. Both teams would battle throughout the set with the Gauchos staying within CSUN. But Santa Barbara would later rally and pull within one with the Matadors leading 23-22 after an attacking error by Jalen Phillips. Even with the Gauchos putting pressure on CSUN, a service error from Eric Collins and a kill from Walters would solidify the victory. The Matadors would take the fourth and final set, winning 25-22 and ending the night with a win.

After the game, head coach Theo Edwards spoke about the resilience of the team and their ability to bounce back after the loss from the previous game.

“It was tough and we were on the road and we didn’t play our best,” Edwards said. “I fired them up a little bit and challenged them and told them ‘it’s now or never,’ especially for our seniors.”

The win would mark the final regular season game for the graduating class. After the game, Edwards gave them their flowers.

“These are some of the best people in the sport, top to bottom,” Edwards said. “Our seniors are great volleyball players, excellent students but more than anything else they’re great human beings. It’s a pleasure coaching these guys.”

With the regular season over, CSUN prepares to travel to Hawaii for the Big West Volleyball Championship at SimpliFi arena in Honolulu, O’ahu. The Matadors will take on fifth seed UC San Diego in the first round of the tournament with the game expected to begin at 7:30pm.

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