When the Cal State Northridge volleyball team plays opposite Loyola Marymount University, the net is more like a mirror.
The similarities between the teams are almost spooky.
Both have comparable records and near-identical talent. Two weeks ago, the teams proved just how alike they are by dueling through a three-hour match before the Lions lost to the Matadors in five games.
Not surprisingly, it took the two teams another five games at Loyola on Friday night. Northridge won again, 10-15, 15-8, 8-15, 15-5, 15-13, in the California Intercollegiate Volleyball Assn. match.
After the match, there was just one distinction to be made.
Northridge had John Buffington. Loyola had Ole Sorlie. Although the two middle blockers made 21 kills each, the 6-4 middle blocker from CSUN manned the net with an offensive attack and unpenetrable blocks that couldn't be compared with that of Loyola's 6-7 Sorlie.
In the first two games, Buffington got a good look at Sorlie's waist as the Loyola junior loomed over the net and placed several kills straight down behind the Matador block.
Meanwhile, Buffington was making many of CSUN's points by twisting 180 degrees in impressive turn-back spikes. The difference came in the fourth game when Buffington matched the three-inch height advantage of Sorlie by jumping that much higher. The Matadors led, 14-1, in the 13-minute game before giving a few points to Kevin Bryan, who contributed 21 kills for the Lions (2-7).
Mike Bird and Scott Juhl combined for nearly 30 kills and a very aggressive and accurate spiking display for Northridge (3-9).
"The six guys we have are comparable to the six guys they have," Loyola Coach Kevin Cleary said before the match. "But we're home. That ought to be good for a couple of points."
It was. But Northridge had a few more.
The Matadors' defense picked up in the final game as Eddie DeGrasse and Mark Stein were willing to put any body part between the ball and the floor to save a point.
"It was a roller-coaster match," Cleary said. "We played some of our best volleyball and some of our worst."