Matadors Can't Sustain Strong Start, Fall in Four Sets at No. 4 BYU

PROVO, Utah - Cal State Northridge got off to an impressive start Friday at No. 4 BYU, but the 12th-ranked Matadors couldn't sustain the momentum dropping the final three sets (23-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-18) in an MPSF match at Smith Fieldhouse.

After dropping Thursday's match in straight sets, Northridge (10-15, 6-12 MPSF) was hoping to gain a split in the two-match set with the Cougars on Friday. The Matadors got off to a great start in set one hitting .259 but more importantly limiting a potent BYU offense to a .172 clip. Northridge, which had trouble with the Cougar serve on Thursday, turned things around with their own serving on Friday and it paid off with the 25-23 win.

The Matadors headed into set two looking to build on their set one momentum and had the frame knotted at 16-16 when BYU took over. After a Matt Stork kill pulled Northridge even, a Taylor Sander kill propelled the Cougars on a 3-0 run that eventually turned into a set-deciding 9-2 run.

Despite hitting .407 in set three, the Matadors were outscored 10-5 over the first 15 points and could never recover. BYU put down 19 kills while committing just two hitting errors to hit .708 in taking a 2-1 lead with the 25-19 victory.

Northridge looked good early in set four taking a short-lived 5-1 lead following a Julius Hoefer kill. But BYU answered by scoring the next eight points to take the lead for good at 9-5. A Drew Staker kill pulled the Matadors within three at 19-16 in the latter stages but the Cougars won going away 25-18

"We played better tonight because our serve was more effective," said head coach Jeff Campbell. "I think the last three sets simply came down to our lack of experience. But we'll put this behind us and get ready for Pacific on Friday."

Stork, who made his first start at outside hitter since Mar. 10, led the Matadors with 14 kills (.231). In an encouraging sign for the stretch run, the senior also had a pair of aces, three digs and one block. Jared Moore (.500) and Hoefer (.250) each added eight kills while Brandon Lebrock (.278) and John Baker (.000) each chipped in seven kills.

Sander had another strong match for BYU as he put down a match-high 21 kills while hitting .562. Robb Stowell added 17 kills (.484) for the Cougars who wound up out-hitting the Matadors .475-.230 and out-blocking Northridge 14.5-3.0.

Cal State Northridge wraps up its four-match road trip next weekend as the Matadors head to the Bay Area to take on Pacific (Apr. 6) and Stanford (Apr. 7) in a pair of crucial MPSF matches.