STOCKTON, Calif. - Any road win in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation is a quality win and 13th-ranked Cal State Northridge proved that with a 25-20, 19-25, 19-25, 25-22, 15-11 victory over the host Pacific Tigers Friday at the Alex Spanos Center.
The Matadors (3-3, 3-2 MPSF) were forced to overcome a two sets to one deficit but battled back to win set four 25-22 and then led from start to finish in the fifth set before taking a 15-11 decision.
Redshirt freshman Damani Lenore had 20 kills to lead the Matadors while true freshman Andrew Freiha had the best match of his young career with 11 kills, nine coming over the final two sets. Greg Faulkner and Sam Holt each added eight kills as the Matadors won in Stockton for the fourth time since 2009. Bradley Sakaida had a career-high 12 digs in the win.
Junior setter Travis Magorien continued his torrid pace at the service line as he racked up four more aces giving him eight aces in his last two matches and a team-high 13 for the season. As a team, the Matadors had 10 aces giving them 25 over their last three matches.
It proved to be a gutsy effort by CSUN as the Matadors' hitters got off to a solid start in set one but struggled for much of the next two sets. CSUN got untracked in sets four and five and wound up hitting .137 for the match while the Tigers hit only slightly better at .139.
"We made way too many errors tonight," said head coach Jeff Campbell. "We served well in games one, four and five and we won those. We're very happy to get the win, it wasn't pretty but the guys played hard the entire time. Playing on the road is always tough but any win is a good win."
With their backs against the wall in set four, the Matadors held a slim 7-6 lead before scoring four straight to open up an 11-6 cushion. The CSUN lead was at least three until Faulkner's hitting error pulled the Tigers within two at 20-18. A Lenore kill kept the Matadors in front by three (23-20) when back-to-back Pacific points cut the lead to 23-22. But Magorien was credited with a kill on the ensuing point and Lenore's kill on set point sent the match to a fifth set.
In the fifth, CSUN won the first three points and despite the Tigers getting within one at 6-5 and against at 7-6, the Matadors were able to open up a 10-6 lead following kills from Freiha and Holt followed by a Holt ace. That margin proved to be the difference as the Matadors held off a late Pacific challenge to win their second straight match.
Cal State Northridge concludes its two-match road trip to Northern California Saturday night as the Matadors travel to No. 7 Stanford at 7 p.m.
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