When the anteaters’ spike attempt landed out of bounds and the final buzzer reverberated throughout the matadome, the CSUN men’s volleyball team stormed the field and hugged like they’d won a championship game.
Not only was this an upset win, the win was the Matadors’ first in more than a year since their season was canceled last March.
The unranked CSUN Matadors had their own March Madness moment when the men’s volleyball team took off the angry victory against the nation’s twelfth team, the UC Irvine Anteaters.
Daniel Wetter (10), Maciej Ptaszynski (9), Griffin Walters (12) and Kyle Merchen (5) celebrate after scoring a point in the third set of the Matadors volleyball game against UC Irvine at the Matadome in Northridge, Calif., On Sunday. March 21, 2021. CSUN won the competition in four straight sets.
The Matadors parted ways with the anteaters on Saturday and Sunday in a row, winning the final face-off in four sets with 25-20, 22-25, 25-12 and 25-17.
Spike for Spike, the Matadors put on an impressive exhibition with a total of 56 kills and four players that ended with double-digit kills.
CSUN head coach Jeff Campbell was impressed with his team’s ability to bounce back after a narrow loss to the anteaters the night before.
“UC Irvine are a very good team and when we play as well as we did against a really good team it shows that we have good players,” said Campbell. “The work ethic was great tonight.”
Kyle Hobus, 7, tips the ball against the UC Irvine Center Blockers during the first set of their game at the Matadome in Northridge, Calif. On Sunday, March 21, 2021. (Chris Torres)
The offense was led by sophomore Kyle Hobus, who led the Matadors with 15 kills, and sophomore Daniel Wetter, who had 13 kills with a 93% hit rate.
Hobus said after struggling during Saturday’s game, he and Campbell went through UC Irvine’s blocking and defense plans to recover from the defeat.
“I was really able to use that time to change my numbers for this game and I think everyone else did the same,” said Hobus.
After splitting the first two sets, the Matadors dominated the third set with 15 kills and 4 service aces, resulting in a set of 25-12.
CSUN continued their offensive attack in the fourth set, winning 25-17, sealing their win against the Anteaters in 12th place.
Daniel Wetter, right, attempts a kill against Scott Stadick of UC Irvine during his game at the Matadome in Northridge, Calif. On Sunday, March 21, 2021. The Matadors won in four sets.
The Matadors also benefited from UC Irvine’s sloppy game of eight reception errors compared to only one committed by CSUN.
After more than a year without competitive games, Hobus said he and the team are thrilled to be back and play at a high level.
“It’s just different this year,” said Hobus. “Everyone is just so excited to be back and everyone is just out there having fun.”
The CSUN men’s volleyball team bench celebrates a point with a hopping dance. The dance requires them to jump on one leg and at the same time step side by side with their other leg. (Chris Torres)
Hobus also believes that their team should be included in the ranking this season and that this win should earn respect to other teams in their conference.
“I think people look down on us as a team and I think we showed today that it shouldn’t be,” said Hobus.
The Matadors have a chance of another surprise when they face third-placed UC Santa Barbara Gauchos on Friday.
“Santa Barbara is another really good team in the Big West,” said Campbell. “We will have a different schedule but we have to be ready because they are very good.”