RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Ninth-ranked Cal State Northridge dropped a four-set decision (25-23, 25-19, 24-26, 25-22) to 14th-ranked Cal Baptist in MPSF play Wednesday night at Van Dyne Gym.
The Matadors (4-3, 2-3 MPSF) had to play from behind for much of the night as the team struggled to a .195 hitting clip. The Lancers (5-4, 2-2 MPSF), who came in leading the conference in hitting, hit .260 as a team. Northridge didn't help themselves committing 18 service errors.
"We didn't serve and we didn't pass tonight," said Matador head coach Jeff Campbell. "I don't want to take anything away from Cal Baptist, they played hard and they played well. They affected us, our setting was a little bit off but really nothing about our game was very good tonight."
Sophomore Kyle Stevenson had a team-high 10 kills to lead the Matadors. Stevenson hit .450 as he matched his season-high with 20 attacks while also adding six digs and three blocks. CSUN middles Drew Staker and Jared Moore, who rank 1-2 in the MPSF in hitting, combined for 15 kills while hitting .483 in 29 swings. Redshirt freshman Sam Holt came off the bench to add six kills (.235) in his first collegiate appearance.
"I was encouraged by the play of our middles," said Campbell. "When we passed the ball up to the net we sided-out at a high rate but our passing was not consistent enough tonight to get our middles enough touches."
The Lancers never trailed in either of the first two sets. Cal Baptist jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the opening set and still led by six at 17-11 when the Matadors mounted a challenge. A Cory Wagner kill capped an 8-2 CSUN run that trimmed the lead to 19-17. Trailing by three at 22-19, the Matadors rolled off three straight points, the last coming on a CBU hitting error, to knot the set 22-22. But Northridge would never lead and the Lancers answered with a set-clinching 3-1 run to take the set 25-23.
After a pair of early ties in set two, CBU went up by three at 10-7 when John Baker's serve found the net. The Matadors cut the lead to one at 10-9 and again at 11-10 but quickly found themselves down 15-10 after the Lancers scored four unanswered. A CBU hitting error temporarily pulled CSUN within two at 19-17 but the Matadors would get no closer.
Northridge turned the tables in set three nearly leading from start to finish. The Matadors quickly built a 6-3 lead when Holt and Moore stuffed a Lancer attack. The CSUN lead swelled to as many as five on three occasions, the last at 18-13, when Cal Baptist rallied to tie the score. The teams then traded sideouts until 23-23 when the Lancers stuffed Holt's attack giving CBU match point at 24-23. But Travis Magorien found Moore on the next two points to save match point and give CSUN set point at 25-24. Holt's ensuing serve clipped a Lancer player and the match went to a fourth set.
After hitting .292 in winning set three, the Matadors could not sustain dropping to .229 while Cal Baptist hit a match-high .333. After leading for a good portion of the set, Northridge saw the Lancers score three straight points to overcome a 13-11 Matador lead. After CSUN knotted the score at 14-14, Cal Baptist rolled off five straight to all but seal the match. The Matadors managed to get within 24-22 late before a Guilherme Koepp kill ended the match.
Levi Cabral led the Lancers with a match-high 24 kills (.395) while Koepp added 13 (.000) and Aaron McCalmont chipped in 11 (.138).
Cal State Northridge wraps up its three-match road trip this Saturday, Feb. 2 as the Matadors travel to Provo, Utah to take on top-ranked BYU at 7 p.m. MT
- GO MATADORS -