NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Senior John Baker had a team-high 13 kills but after winning the opening set, eighth-ranked Cal State Northridge was no match for third-ranked Stanford as the Cardinal claimed the final three sets in a 22-25, 25-16, 25-17, 25-21 win Friday night at The Matadome.
The Matadors (6-5, 4-5 MPSF), who opened their five-match homestand with impressive wins over USC and Pepperdine last week, got off to a good start against Stanford (9-4, 6-4 MPSF) but could not sustain over the final three sets.
After hitting .312 in taking set one 25-22, the Matadors hit no higher that .226 over the final three sets while surrendering five Stanford aces. The Cardinal serving kept CSUN off balance a good portion of the night while the Stanford offense connected at a .466 (60-12-103) clip. Conversely, the Matadors wound up hitting .221 (46-21-113) for the match.
"Our passing broke down and our serving wasn't tough enough tonight," said Matador head coach Jeff Campbell. "It seemed like they were in system all night and hitting .466 to our .221 is a huge difference. Their hitters were very good so they certainly deserved to win tonight."
Baker led a trio of Matador hitters in double figures with 13 kills (.303) while Jared Moore added 11 (.625) and Kyle Stevenson chipped in 10 (.077). Sophomore Alex Jones started in place of an injured Travis Magorien and handed out 41 assists and matched Baker for team-high honors with five digs. Baker also had one of just two CSUN aces in the match.
The first set featured 17 ties and four lead changes as the teams battled to a 21-21 tie. Brian Cook's attack went long before Moore's serve found the net and the match was tied again at 22-22. But consecutive kills by Drew Staker and a Stanford hitting error capped a set-clinching 3-0 run for the Matadors.
That turned out to be the high point for Northridge as the Cardinal broke open a tight 8-7 score in set two by rolling off five straight points to take a 13-7 lead. The Stanford lead was at least five the rest of the way and Steven Irvin's kill at 24-16 evened the match at one set apiece.
Leading 10-9 early in set three, the Cardinal outscored the Matadors 9-3 over the next 12 points, capped by setter James Shaw's kill, to open up a 19-13 cushion. Baker's kill got CSUN within six at 22-16 but that was as close as the Matadors would get in going down two sets to one.
Looking to force a fifth set, the Matadors trailed by three at 10-7 before getting within one (16-15) following Staker's solo block. CSUN still trailed by one at 18-17 when another Irvin kill and a Stevenson hitting error boosted the Stanford lead back to three. The Matadors would get within two at 20-18, 21-19 and again at 22-20 before kills from Brian Cook and Jake Kneller gave the Cardinal set point at 24-20. Baker's 13th kill saved one match point before Irvin connected on match point giving Stanford its second road win of the season.
Cook wound up with a match-high 21 kills (.459) to lead the Cardinal who also got 14 kills from Irvin (.522) and 10 from Eric Mochalski (.533). Mochalski also had two of Stanford's five aces in the win.
Cal State Northridge returns to the court Saturday night as the Matadors host No. 11 Pacific at 7 p.m.
- GO MATADORS -