January 25, 2012

Matadors Fall in Straight Sets On the Road at Third-Ranked UCLA

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Cal State Northridge suffered a straight-set loss (25-16, 25-16, 25-23) at third-ranked UCLA Wednesday night at the Wooden Center. Freshman Julius Höefer led the Matadors with nine kills in the loss.

The ninth-ranked Matadors (2-5, 1-3 MPSF) were held without a single block for just the fourth time in school history and had trouble getting on track offensively hitting just .058 in the match. The third-ranked Bruins had little trouble offensively hitting .435 as a team with four UCLA hitters hitting .500 or better. The Bruins also dominated the net defensively posting 13.5 team blocks.

Höefer and Jared Moore were the only Northridge hitters to find any degree of success as the two combined for 14 of the Matadors' 23 kills. Höefer had nine kills in 21 swings but committed seven errors to hit .095. Moore added five kills in eight errorless attacks to hit .625 to go with a career-high three digs.

"I think the reason we struggled was the way they served and the way we passed which wasn't good enough to compete," said head coach Jeff Campbell. "If you can't pass you can't sideout and that was the biggest problem tonight. UCLA has some very experienced players and we're starting four freshmen and it makes it difficult to compete when those guys are playing well."

Continuing a season-long trend, the Matadors got out of the gate slowly as UCLA scored seven of the first nine points forcing the Matadors into an early timeout. After falling behind by as many as six (8-2), Hoefer stepped to the service line and Northridge tallied three straight to get within 8-5 following a Bruin hitting error. UCLA built its lead back to five at 14-9 before the Matadors engineered a 7-2 run on the strength of a pair of Moore kills to pull even at 16-16. Northridge could never take a lead however as UCLA answered the Matador run with a set-closing 9-2 run to claim set one 25-18.

The final two sets weren't as close as the Bruins opened up big leads in each frame. In the third and final set UCLA again set the tone early jumping out to a 4-1 lead and forcing the Matadors to play from behind. A Höefer kill pulled the Matadors within 4-2 but Northridge would not score again until the Bruins had rolled off four more points to open up an 8-2 advantage. The Matadors eventually whittled the lead down to four at 10-6 and again at 12-8 but the Bruins pulled away with another 6-0 run taking an insurmountable 18-8 lead.

Jeremy Casebeer led UCLA with a match-high 13 kills (.346) while Gonzalo Quiroga and Weston Dunlap each added seven kills with Dunlap hitting .600 on 10 swings. Quiroga also had a match-high three aces for the Bruins who had nine as a team.

Cal State Northridge returns home Friday to host Cal Baptist in a non-conference match in The Matadome at 7 p.m.

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