February 11, 2012

Matadors Drop First Home Match, 3-1 to No. 4 Stanford

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - A trio of Cal State Northridge hitters reached double figures, led by Jared Moore's team-high 13 kills, but the 11th-ranked Matadors suffered their first home loss as the fourth-ranked Stanford Cardinal handed Northridge a 25-22, 18-25, 25-22, 25-19 loss Saturday in The Matadome.

The Matadors (4-7, 2-5 MPSF), seeking their first 4-0 start at home since 2009, were out-pointed by the Cardinal by a slim margin (68.0-65.0) despite being out-killed 56-44 and out-dug 40-19. Northridge put up a season-high 18.0 team blocks and forced Stanford into 26 hitting errors which kept them in each and every set.

Moore, a junior from Corona, Calif., had one of the finest hitting nights in Matador history as he matched Kevin McKniff's single-match record by hitting .929 with 13 kills in 14 attacks with no errors. McKniff also hit .929 at UCLA during the 2010 season. Moore added six assisted blocks while freshman Julius Hoefer added 12 kills (.200), six blocks and four digs. Senior Matt Stork rebounded from a rough hitting night against Pacific to put down 11 kills (.206) to go with a team-high five digs and three blocks.

Drew Staker continued his stellar blocking of late as the junior had 10 assisted blocks against Stanford after posting two solos and eight assisted blocks against Pacific on Friday. Setter Filip Tomicic posted 35 assists while also digging four balls as the Matadors hit .282 as a team to .275 for the Cardinal.

Northridge put itself into an early hole in each of the first two sets as the Matadors fell behind 6-1 and 8-2 in the opening set. Then trailing 22-18 late, Northridge tallied four straight points on a kill by Hoefer, an ace by Stork and a pair of blocks to tie the set at 22-22. But Stanford closed the set on a 3-0 run to take the set 25-22.

Northridge quickly fell behind 4-1 in set two but again battled back with a Stork kill and a pair of blocks to even the score. The score was still tied at 8-8 when the Matadors got a Brandon Lebrock kill, a pair of Stanford miscues and a Staker-Hoefer block to open up a 12-8 cushion. From that point on it was all Northridge as a Lebrock-Moore block gave the Matadors their largest lead at 18-10. Despite the Cardinal closing to within 22-18 in the latter stages, another Lebrock-Moore block on set point gave the Matadors the 25-18 victory.

The third set could have gone either way as the set featured 14 ties and seven lead changes before Stanford pulled away late for the 25-22 win. The Matadors overcame an early 11-9 Cardinal lead and pulled even at 15-15 following a Stork kill. But a Moore service error followed by a Brad Lawson kill gave the Cardinal the cushion they needed and despite the Matadors pulling within 23-22, kills from Brian Cook and Lawson ended the set.

The final set was close until 10-10 when Stanford outscored the Matadors 7-2 over the next nine points to take the lead for good. A final block from Staker and Hoefer temporarily pulled Northridge within four at 21-17 but the Matadors would get no closer falling 25-19.

Cook, with a match-high 26 kills (.450), and Lawson with 19 (.342) were the main threats for Stanford on offense while the Cardinal got 46 assists and six digs from setter Evan Barry and a match-high 13 digs from libero Erik Shoji.

Cal State Northridge opens a three-match road trip next Wednesday, Feb. 15 as the Matadors travel to UC Santa Barbara to take on the Gauchos at 7 p.m.

- GO MATADORS - 

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