Road Woes Continue for Matadors in 3-0 Loss at Long Beach State

LONG BEACH, Calif. - The 10th-ranked Cal State Northridge men's volleyball team dropped its fifth straight road match on Friday as the 11th-ranked Long Beach State 49ers swept the Matadors 25-16, 25-19, 25-20 at the Walter Pyramid.

Northridge (3-6, 1-4 MPSF) struggled offensively hitting .182 (28-16-66) as a team with freshman Julius Hoefer and senior Matt Stork each posting a team-high seven kills. Stork, who came off the bench for the first time this season, hit a solid .375 in 16 swings to go with a team-high four digs and one block. Junior Drew Staker also came off the bench to add six kills in eight attacks (.500).

In utilizing their ninth different starting lineup in nine matches this season, Travis Magorien started at setter but was replaced by Filip Tomicic at the beginning of the second set. Tomicic responded with 22 assists and one ace as the Matadors hit .240 in set two and a team-high .280 in set three. But Northridge had a tough time dealing with the Long Beach serving game as the 49ers racked up 10 aces in just three sets.

"For the first time this year our passing really broke down," said head coach Jeff Campbell. "You have to give Long Beach credit for serving so well but for some reason we were really unable to respond to their serving.

"When you pass the ball off the net like we did tonight you're going to make it tough to set and sideout," added Campbell. "Tonight we didn't pass so it was tough for us to sideout."

Following a 49er service error to open the match, Long Beach put down four consecutive kills to open up a 4-1 lead. A solo block from Lebrock temporarily pulled the Matadors within 5-3 but the 49ers answered with a kill and an ace to boost the lead back to four at 7-3. The Long Beach lead swelled to six (11-5). From that point on, Northridge struggled to keep it close despite battling back to within 14-10 on a 49er setting error. But the Matadors were outscored 7-1 from that point on going down by as many as 11 (23-12) before the 49ers won going away 25-16.

Set two looked to get away from the Matadors early as Long Beach bolted out to an 8-2 lead following a Jeff Ornee kill. Trailing 9-3, Northridge engineered a 5-2 run, highlighted by a pair of Stork kills, to close to within 11-8 forcing a 49er timeout. Long Beach still led by four (15-11) when the Matadors took advantage of a trio of 49er hitting errors to even the set at 16-16. The score was still tied at 19-19 when the Long Beach servers took advantage of the Matador passers as back-to-back aces capped a set-closing 6-0 run as the 49ers took a two-set lead with the 25-19 win.

Set three turned out to be the tightest of the match as the two teams traded the lead 11 times. The Matadors held a quartet of one-point leads, the last at 8-7 following a Staker kill. But three straight 49er points forced Northridge into a timeout at 10-8 before Hoefer's ace kept the Matadors even at 11-11. The set was tied again at 13-13, 14-14 and a final time at 15-15, A Long Beach kill and a Staker hitting error gave the 49ers a 17-15 lead before Stork's kill kept it close 17-16. A Brandon Lebrock kill also kept the Matadors within one at 19-18 before back-to-back Long Beach kills gave the 49ers the margin they needed 21-18. A late 49er service error kept Northridge within reach at 22-20 but a kill, ace and a Matador hitting error on match point doomed Northridge's hopes as the 49ers claimed the set 25-20 and the match 3-0.

Brad Hemmerling led Long Beach with a match-high 13 kills (.360) while Taylor Crabb added 10 kills (.412). The 49ers wound up hitting .423 (39-9-71) as a team in the win.

Cal State Northridge returns home next week as the Matadors open up a two-match homestand Friday, Feb. 10 against the Pacific Tigers. First serve in The Matadome is scheduled for 7 p.m. 

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