SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The 15th ranked (American Volleyball Coaches Association) IPFW men’s volleyball team opened its 2015 season with an upset win over 13th ranked CSUN in the first game of the UCSB Asics Invitational, topping the Matadors 25-22, 25-23, 15-25, 16-25, 16-14.
Andrew Sellan knocked down 13 kills to lead the team, while Nick Smalter added 10. Freshman Alex Harthaller had eight kills and Ramon Burgos seven. Sellan had a team-best four blocks, while serving up three service aces. Omar Rivera handed out 39 assists, while Luis Bertran led the team with seven digs.
The win over CSUN marks the second straight year that the program opened the season with a win against a ranked opponent after topping 15th ranked Cal Baptist a season earlier in the same tournament.
The Mastodons opened strong, jumping ahead to a 9-5 lead, forcing a Matador timeout early in the opening set. CSUN answered back and knotted the score at 10, 12, and 14; however, the Mastodons ran off two straight points and led 16-14, never trailing again in the first set, as the ‘Dons took the set 25-22.
CSUN jumped out to a 5-3 lead in the second set, before IPFW countered with a 7-2 run, pushing ahead to a 10-7 advantage on a Smalter service ace. The teams battled to a 19-19 tie before IPFW pulled away late for the 25-23 second-set win.
The Matadors opened the third set with five straight points, and led 9-1 before cruising to a 25-15 set victory. IPFW led briefly in the fourth set, as late as 6-5 before CSUN scored four straight, and a later an 8-0 run sent the Matadors to a 26-16 win, and forcing a fifth and deciding set.
A back-and-forth fifth set saw the teams tied at nine, before the Mastodons ran off four straight points on a kill from Smalter, two kills from Harthaller and a block by Rivera and Burgos. IPFW would not give up the lead again, and closed the match with a combo block from Sellan and Saunders.
The Mastodons return to action later on Friday against the fifth ranked Bruins of UCLA at 10 p.m. ET.