Non-conference matches against some of the top MIVA teams and an eight-match mid-season homestand highlights Cal State Nothridge’s 2012 regular season schedule.
Cal State Nothridge ended last season tied for last place in the MPSF and missed the conference tournament for the first time since 2001. Matadors coach Jeff Campbell has five starters returning for the upcoming season, including 2011 All-MPSF Freshman Team middle attacker Greg Faulkner.
Check out the five things to take away from Cal State Northridge’s schedule for the 2012 season.
Five things to know about the schedule
1. Staying home for spring break
If Cal State Northridge is to make the MPSF Tournament after a one-year hiatus it could depend if the Matadors take advantage of an almost month-long homestand in March. The Matadors will have an eight-match homestand from Feb. 29 to March 24, including five conference matches against teams that made the conference tournament last season. Cal State Northridge will open the homestand playing ULCA and the defending MPSF champions UC Santa Barbara and close it with matches against UC Irvine and Hawai’i. The Matadors last season were second-worst in the MPSF with a 4-9 home record. It was Cal State Northridge’s worst home record since 1984. No team that made the MPSF Tournament last season had a losing home record.
2. The Ball State and Loyola rematches
The Matadors will get their rematches against two MIVA teams that they lost to the last time the teams played each other. Cal State Northridge will play non-conference home matches against Ball State on March 7 and Loyola on March 9. Unranked Ball State swept then-No. 3 Cal State Northridge during the 2010 season in Muncie, Ind. — the first time Ball State had defeated a top-five ranked team in more than 10 years. Following that loss, Cal State Northridge dropped to No. 5 in the coaches poll but recovered to win five of its final six regular season matches and reached the Final Four as the at-large team. Loyola defeated Cal State Nothridge in four games last season as the Matadors finished the 2011 season 7-22. Loyola ended last season losing the MIVA championship match for the second consecutive year.
3. Late season gauntlet
The final three weeks of the regular season could be the toughest stretch of matches for the Matadors during the entire season. Cal State Nothridge will play four of its final six matches against teams that finished last season in the top three of the MPSF regular season standings, including road matches at BYU and Stanford. It will also play its regular season finale at home against USC, the defending MPSF regular season champions. Cal State Northridge has a combined 1-5 against USC, BYU and Stanford last season and has a losing record in the all-time series agaisnt each of these schools.
4. Splitting with Hawai’i
The Hawai’i and Cal State Northridge series will have a twist to it this season. Unlike previous years when the two teams played their two MPSF matches against each other on back-to-back nights, Cal State Northridge and Hawai’i will meet on March 16 and March 24 in Northridge, Calif. This is the first time since 1994 that Cal State Northridge and Hawai’i will play two conference matches against each other that are separated by more than two days. Hawai’i traditionally schedules each conference opponent on back-to-back nights for travel and financial reasons. Cal State Nothridge lost both matches to Hawai’i last season in Honolulu.
5. Playing Harvard again
For the second consecutive season, Cal State Northridge will play a non-conference home match against Harvard. Cal State Nothridge swept Harvard at home last season to snap a five match losing streak. That match was also the first time in Cal State Northridge’s program history that it played Harvard. Harvard finished last season in fourth place in the EIVA Hay Division and failed to reach the conference tournament. Cal State Nothridge has not lost at home to a team from the EIVA since playing Penn State in 1998.
Cal State Northridge regular season schedule
2 p.m. Dec. 31 vs. British Columbia (Exhibition)
7 p.m. Jan. 11 at Pepperdine*
7 p.m. Jan. 13 at USC*
7 p.m. Jan. 20 vs. Long Beach State*
7 p.m. Jan. 25 at UCLA*
7 p.m. Jan. 27 vs. Cal Baptist
7 p.m. Feb. 3 at Long Beach State*
7 p.m. Feb. 10 vs. Pacific
7:30 p.m. Feb. 11 vs. Stanford*
7 p.m. Feb. 15 at UC Santa Barbara*
7 p.m. Feb. 22 at UC Irvine*
7 p.m. Feb. 24 at UC San Diego*
7 p.m. Feb. 29 vs. UC Santa Barbara*
7 p.m. March 2 vs. UCLA*
7 p.m. March 7 vs. Ball State
7 p.m. March 9 vs. Loyola
7 p.m. March 10 vs. Harvard
7 p.m. March 14 vs. UC Irvine*
7 p.m. March 16 vs. Hawai’i*
7 p.m. March 24 vs. Hawai’i*
6 p.m. March 29 at BYU*
6 p.m. March 30 at BYU*
7 p.m. April 6 at Pacific*
7 p.m. April 7 at Stanford*
7 p.m. April 12 vs. Pepperdine*
7 p.m. April 14 vs. USC*
*Denotes MPSF match
All times PST