STANFORD, Calif. - Cal State Northridge opened its final road trip of the regular season in impressive fashion as the 10th-ranked Matadors swept No. 6 Stanford, 25-20, 25-22, 25-20 Friday night at Maples Pavilion.
The win was crucial to the Matadors' postseason hopes and also snapped a season-long, four-match skid for Northridge which improved to 11-10 overall and 9-10 in the MPSF.
The Matadors won for the fourth time on the road this season and moved within one-half game of Stanford which slipped to 12-9 overall and 9-9 in conference play. CSUN started the night tied with UC Santa Barbara and Cal Baptist for seventh-place in the MPSF race.
"It was a great win tonight," said Matador head coach Jeff Campbell. "We did a great job of siding-out, we were just very steady tonight. It was a solid all-around performance from everyone but for me the difference was the play of Travis (Magorien) and Chance (Earnest)."
As a team, the Matadors hit an even .300 as setter Magorien handed out 35 assists and in his first collegiate start, Earnest had just three kills but served consistently tough throughout the match. Neither player was in the Matador lineup the last time the two teams met in Northridge on Feb. 15.
Senior John Baker and junior Brandon Lebrock combined for 27 of the Matadors' 42 kills as CSUN won at Stanford for the first time since 2008, also the last time a Matador team swept the Cardinal. Baker had a match-high 15 kills (.333) while Lebrock added 12 (.172). Baker nearly notched a triple-double by adding nine digs and eight blocks.
Senior Drew Staker matched Baker with eight blocks while also putting down seven kills in 10 swings to hit .600. Matador libero Charlie Condron matched his season-high with nine digs and Jared Moore had both of CSUN's aces.
A Baker kill put the Matadors up by a pair (11-9) in the opening set before two straight Stanford points evened the score at 11. Sideouts ensued until 14-14 when a pair of Baker-Staker blocks again put CSUN up by a pair. A Cardinal hitting error gave the Matadors their largest lead at 18-15 and Northridge still led by three (21-18) before Stanford mounted a comeback. Kills from Brian Cook and Eric Mochalski cut the lead to one but consecutive kills from Baker gave the Matadors the margin they needed and CSUN closed the frame on a Staker kill.
The Cardinal led only once (13-12) in set two before the Matadors outscored Stanford 5-1 over the next six points to open up a 17-14 cushion. Another Baker-Staker block gave CSUN its largest lead of the set at 20-16 and the Matadors held off a late Cardinal run to take set two 25-22.
Needing a win to stay alive, Stanford led for a good portion of the third set. A Daniel Tublin kill gave the Cardinal its largest lead at 16-12 before the Matadors engineered a 6-2 run, capped by a Baker kill, to knot the score at 18-18. Earnest put down a kill on the ensuing point and CSUN led 19-18 before Stanford reclaimed the lead on a block and a Cook kill. But Baker's kill ended the run and propelled the Matadors on a match-clinching 6-0 run, all with Earnest at the service line.
Cook led Stanford with 11 kills (.172) and Mochalski added seven kills while hitting .462. The Cardinal wound up hitting just .153 as a team, 149 percentage points below their season average.
Cal State Northridge concludes its Northern California trip Saturday as the Matadors take on the Pacific Tigers at the Spanos Center in Stockton at 7 p.m.
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