NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - In front of a packed house, BYU showed why its the top-ranked team in the country as the Cougars swept the host and ninth-ranked Matadors 25-20, 25-22, 25-21 Friday in a MPSF match in The Matadome.
Playing in front of the 10th-largest crowd in Matadome history (1,455), BYU led throughout and wound up out-hitting CSUN .311-.158.
The Matadors (10-10, 8-10 MPSF), who had not been swept all season, were led by senior John Baker's 11 kills (.167). Baker and fellow seniors Jared Moore and Drew Staker were honored in pre-match ceremonies as Northridge took to The Matadome floor for the final time in the 2013 regular season.
CSUN opens up a six-match road trip next week at Stanford and unless the Matadors finish among the conference's top four teams, the Matador trio played their final collegiate home match.
Northridge kept sets one and three close for a good portion. The Matadors trailed by just one in the opening set (18-17) before a Cougar triple block and a hitting error by CSUN setter Travis Magorien pushed the BYU lead to three. A kill from Brandon Lebrock on the next play cut the lead to two (20-18) but that was close as the Matadors would get eventually falling 25-20.
With the score tied at 13-13 in set three, CSUN got kills from Moore and Baker to take a 15-13 lead while forcing BYU into a timeout. A Chance Earnest ace out of the timeout gave the Matadors their biggest lead of the set (16-13) and CSUN continued to lead by three at 18-15 after a Cougar service error. But three straight BYU points, two coming on Matador hitting errors, pulled the Cougars even before Staker ended the run with a kill keeping CSUN up by one (19-18).
Looking to even the match, the Matadors fell behind 13-8 early in set two before eventually closing to within 19-17 when Moore and Baker stuffed a Josue Rivera attack. Russ Lavaja mis-handled a Matador overpass and CSUN was within one (21-20) before another Baker kill evened the score for the first time at 21-21. Undeterred, the Cougars rolled off three straight points to take a 24-21 lead and cashed in set point when Sander's attack found the court.
But kills from Taylor Sander and Andrew Heap, along with a Baker hitting error, gave BYU the lead for good at 21-19 and the Cougars outscored the Matadors 4-2 the rest of the way to post the 25-21 win.
Ben Patch led BYU (16-3, 15-2 MPSF) with 18 kills (.483) as the Cougars won their eighth straight. Sander added 16 kills (.400), a match-high nine digs and one block.
Cal State Northridge heads to Northern California next week as the Matadors take on Stanford (Mar. 29) and Pacific (Mar. 30).
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