NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Cal State Northridge had not lost a match to UC San Diego since the 1988 season, a span of 40 consecutive wins, before the 15th-ranked Tritons topped the 13th-ranked Matadors 19-25, 30-28, 25-18, 25-21 in an MPSF match Friday at The Matadome.
Northridge (8-13, 4-10 MPSF) won the first set handily 25-19 while hitting an impressive .500 as a team. But from that point on it was all Tritons as UCSD (6-16, 4-13 MPSF) eeked out a 30-28 win in set two and then won the final two sets going away 25-18, 25-21.
The Matadors played without the services of senior Matt Stork who was nursing an injury but sophomore Brandon Lebrock stepped up and pounded a career-high 18 kills in a career-high 46 attacks. Lebrock, who also had seven digs and four blocks, was set 23 times in the second set alone and wound up hitting .196 in the match.
Junior John Baker added 10 kills (.182), five digs and three blocks and redshirt freshman Kyle Stevenson chipped in nine kills (.227) two digs, four blocks and one ace. Danny Rodrick set a majority of the match for the Matadors, posting 32 assists, two aces and six digs.
After hitting .500 in the opening set, Northridge struggled to even approach that figure the rest of the way hitting .000 in set two, .231 in set three and .258 in set four.
The second set proved to be huge in terms of momentum as the Matadors looked to take a two-set lead when, at 24-23, Lebrock's attack went long despite the Northridge bench's protest of a UCSD touch. The Matadors also had a set point at 25-24 following a Triton hitting error, but Lebrock's ensuing swing was stuffed at the net. Another Lebrock attack went wide giving UCSD set point at 26-25 and Northridge was able to save another set point at 27-26 when Baker's kill followed by another Triton hitting error gave the Matadors their third chance at the set.
A Vaun Lennon kill evened the set for the final time at 28-28 and a pair of Matador hitting miscues over the next two points evened the match at one set apiece after the 30-28 UCSD win.
It was all Tritons over the final two sets after the Matadors trailed the entire third set and led only briefly early in set four.
Carl Eberts led a trio of UCSD hitters with double figure kill totals as he knocked down a match-high 19 while hitting .341. Johl Awerkamp added 18 kills (.225) and Lennon chipped in 13 kills (.176).
Cal State Northridge concludes its season-long, nine-match homestand next weekend (Mar. 23-24) as the Matadors host Hawai'i for a pair of conference matches at 7 p.m.
- GO MATADORS -