Jonathan Bates | Associate Editor
After opening up the 2020 schedule with a pair of exhibition matches versus a Canadian team – University of Guelph – the CSUN Matadors will play in the UCSB Asics Invitational on the second weekend of the season.
Their first match of the invitational will be against McKendree, who finished fourth in the regular-season standings in the MIVA last year. The Bearcats lost in the semifinal round of the MIVA tournament to the eventual tournament champion, Lewis.
The 2019 season (13-13, 7-7 MIVA) for the Bearcats was historic on multiple fronts. On March 3, McKendree defeated Ohio State for the first time in program history. Three weeks later, McKendree defeated the then-No. 8 BYU Cougars in Provo. Coach Nickie Sanlin was named co-Coach of the Year for the MIVA for the first time as well (Dan Friend).
McKendree returns almost of their production from last year’s squad, losing libero Zach Thompson and outside hitters Patrick Ross and Will Frank to graduation. Highlighting the returners is MIVA Freshman of the Year, Ryan Serrano. Joining Serrano is All-MIVA First Teamer, middle attacker Wyatt Dimke and All-MIVA Second Teamer, opposite Zach Schnittker.
The Bearcats ranked No. 7 nationally with 2.41 blocks per game, led by Lucas Galifos’s 1.063 blocks per game.
CSUN ranked No. 11 nationally last year with 1.52 aces per game, led by graduated outside attacker Dimitar Kalchev’s 0.456 aces per game. Kalchev also was named to the 2019 All-Big West First Team, while setter Daniel Wetter and setter Taylor Ittner were named to the All-Big West Freshman Team.
Also lost from the 2019 Matador team are libero Emmett Enriques, as well as reserves, outside hitter Lucas Timm and setter Sam Porter.
The Matadors finished the season with a 13-14 (3-7) record, after losing to UC Santa Barbara in five games in the quarterfinal round of the Big West tournament. The highlight of the 2019 season for CSUN was defeating then-No. 2 UCLA in three games in early January.
In addition to playing 10 league matches in Big West play, the Matadors will play 18 non-league games. Of those non-league games, five will be against MIVA schools, four against MPSF schools, four against NAIA schools, two against EIVA schools, one against a Division III school, and two against an exhibition opponent.
18 of their 28 matches will be at the Matadome, where CSUN was 8-5 last year. In fact, CSUN doesn’t leave Southern California until the second weekend of February.
2020 CSUN Schedule
Thursday, Jan. 2 vs. University of Guelph (Exhibition match)
Friday, Jan. 3 vs. University of Guelph (Exhibition match)
Thursday, Jan 9 vs. McKendree (Neutral site)
Friday, Jan. 10 vs. Concordia-Irvine (Neutral site)
Saturday, Jan. 11 vs. Benedictine (Neutral site)
Wednesday, Jan 15 vs. Purdue Fort Wayne
Friday, Jan. 17 vs. Ball State
Friday, Jan 24 vs. Menlo College
Saturday, Jan. 25 vs. Cal Lutheran
Friday, Jan 31 vs. USC
Saturday, Feb. 1 vs. Princeton
Friday, Feb. 7 at Lindenwood
Saturday, Feb. 8 at Lindenwood
Friday, Feb. 14 vs. UC Merced
Friday, Feb. 21 vs. Vanguard
Friday, Feb. 28 vs. UCLA
Thursday, March 5 at UCLA
Friday, March 13 vs. Hawai’i
Saturday, March 14 vs. Hawai’i
Thursday, March 19 vs. NJIT
Friday, March 27 vs. UC Santa Barbara
Saturday, March 28 at UC Santa Barbara
Friday, April 3 vs. UC San Diego
Saturday, April 4 at UC San Diego
Friday, April 10 at UC Irvine
Saturday, April vs. UC Irvine
Friday, April 17 vs. Long Beach State
Saturday, April 18 at Long Beach State