Matadors Fall in Straight Sets at No. 9 BYU

PROVO, Utah - Cal State Northridge dropped its MPSF road opener in straight sets Friday night at Smith Fieldhouse as ninth-ranked BYU handed the Matadors a 25-23, 25-22, 25-15 setback.

The Matadors (1-2, 1-1 MPSF) hung tough in a gym where they have won twice since 1996. The first two sets were tight until the final stages while the host Cougars dominated set three to claim the sweep.

Sophomore Sam Holt had 10 kills to lead CSUN while hitting .125 on a team-high 24 swings. Holt had nine kills and was hitting .467 through two sets but struggled in the final frame. Greg Faulkner and Jakub Ciesla each chipped in six kills with Faulkner hitting a team-best .625. Ciesla wound up with a team-high six digs while libero Bradley Sakaida had four.

After hitting .340 in dropping the first two sets in tight fashion, CSUN was its own worst enemy in the final set committing 10 hitting errors while hitting -.318. For the match, the Matadors hit .130 (29-20-69) as a team. CSUN also had 12 service errors without an ace.

In the first set, the Matadors led by as many as four after a Vaughn Wellenreiter-Travis Magorien co-block gave CSUN a 9-5 lead. Wellenreiter finished the night with a team-high three blocks. BYU, however stormed back with an 8-1 run to take a 13-10 lead, the only CSUN point in the stretch coming on a Ciesla kill.

After three ties over the next 13 points, the last at 17-17, a BYU hitting error put the Matadors back in front 18-17. CSUN still led 19-18 when a 3-0 Cougar run put BYU in front 21-19 following Ciesla's hitting error. The Matadors then put together a 4-1 run, capped by a Faulkner kill to take back the lead 23-22. But Faulkner's fifth kill of the set turned out to be CSUN's final point as BYU closed with three straight points to take the set 25-23.

Set two was equally close as the two teams battled to a 17-17 tie. Three straight Cougar kills, two coming from Taylor Sander, gave BYU a 20-17 cushion. The lead swelled to 23-19 before the Matadors mounted a late run as consecutive Holt kills brought CSUN within 23-21. Another Holt kill kept the Matadors within two at 24-22 when BYU's Devin Young's kill ended the set.

The final frame was all BYU as the Cougars bolted to an 8-2 lead and never looked back.

Sander wound up with a match-high 14 kills to lead BYU which picked up its first win of the season against two losses. Matt Underwood added 10 kills (.389) as the Cougars hit .260 (37-17-77) in the victory.

Cal State Northridge is off from match action until Jan. 22 when the Matadors host Pepperdine to open a two-match homestand.