NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Senior Matt Stork pounded a season-high 20 kills, including 11 in a crucial third set win as 14th-ranked Cal State Northridge knocked off No. 11 UC Santa Barbara 21-25, 25-21, 30-28, 20-25, 15-9 in an MPSF match Wednesday at The Matadome.
The Matadors (6-9, 4-7 MPSF) claimed their fourth win in five home matches and opened up a season-long, nine-match homestand on a winning note.
On a night when the usually reliable Northridge middles struggled, the Matadors turned to Stork, Brandon Lebrock and John Baker for their offense. The trio combined for 53 of Northridge's 63 kills in the match while hitting a combined .282 in 131 swings. Stork hit .308 in a career-high 52 attacks, Lebrock put down a career-high 17 kills while hitting .238 in a career-high 42 swings. Baker came on midway through the opening set to register 16 kills to go with 11 digs, the second double-double of his career.
Charlie Condron, the second libero used by the Matadors in the match, shattered his career-high with 20 digs, the most by a Northridge libero since Ali'i Keohohou had 21 against Stanford in 2009. Setter Danny Rodrick also posted a career-high in assists with 55 in leading Northridge to its fourth five-set win at home while also snapping a five-match losing streak to UCSB.
The Matadors struggled in the opening set hitting just .207 while the Gauchos hit .324 to take the frame 25-21. Northridge fell behind 6-0 and played catch-up the entire frame. A late Jared Moore kill pulled the Matadors within two at 22-20 but UCSB won three of the final four points.
Northridge upped its hitting to .229 in set two but more importantly limited the Gauchos to a .108 clip as Stork and Baker led the Matadors with four kills in the set. After Northridge jumped out to an 11-6 lead, the Gauchos quickly answered with a 4-0 run to cut the lead to one. Lebrock's attack was stuffed at 15-14 giving UCSB its largest lead at 16-14 before a Baker kill and a Rodrick ace gave the Matadors the lead for good at 17-16. Northridge then pulled away late evening the match at one set apiece.
In what turned out to be a crucial set, Stork, Lebrock and Baker combined for 20 of the Matadors' 22 kills as Northridge hit a match-high .333. Behind Stork's 11 kills, the Matadors came back from an 11-7 defecit to knot the score at 23-23 following a Gaucho hitting error. Northridge then had four set points spoiled by the Gauchos before back-to-back kills from Baker and Stork gave the Matadors the 30-28 win.
After the Gauchos forced a fifth and deciding set with a 25-20 win in set four, the Matadors used a UCSB hitting error and a Drew Staker kill to break a 4-4 tie. Leading 6-4, Northridge kept its two-point lead (8-6) when the teams switched sides. After the change-over, a Lebrock ace followed by a Baker kill gave the Matadors the margin they needed at 10-6. The Gauchos would only get within four the rest of the way as Northridge closed the match on a UCSB hitting error.
Dylan Davis was a force for the Gauchos all match long as he put down a match-high 22 kills while hitting .656 to go with 14 total blocks. Austin Kingi added 15 kills (.184) and Miles Evans chipped in 12 (.167).
Cal State Northridge continues its homestand Friday night as the Matadors host top-ranked UCLA at 7 p.m.
- GO MATADORS -