NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - 13th-ranked Cal State Northridge dropped the opener of a two-match weekend series with No. 11 Hawai'i as the visiting Rainbow Warriors swept the Matadors 25-20, 25-15, 28-26 Friday night in The Matadome.
The Matadors (3-5, 3-4 MPSF) had trouble getting going offensively as they hit .214 in set one and -.105 in set two. CSUN was able to post a .280 hitting clip in the final set and almost pulled out the win before falling in extra points.
"I thought we came out flat tonight," said CSUN head coach Jeff Campbell. "We didn't handle Hawai'i's serve particularly well until game three, when we did pass well we were able to feed the middles. In the matches we've played well this season we've been successful in doing that."
When the Matadors got their passing on track, middle Greg Faulkner was the main beneficiary as the junior put down a team-high 10 kills while hitting .615 on 13 swings. Redshirt freshman Damani Lenore added seven kills (.267) but no other CSUN hitter registered more than four kills as freshman Justin Beskeen had four kills in four errorless attacks.
Visiting Hawai'i had 39 kills to CSUN's 30 while the Rainbow Warriors wound up with a sizable .360-.153 hitting edge. The Matadors also came up short at the net as Hawai'i had 12.5 team blocks to 4.5 for CSUN.
The Matadors led early on in set one after an Andrew Freiha ace gave the Matadors a 4-2 lead. A 4-0 Hawai'i run quickly erased the lead and CSUN was forced to come from behind the remainder of the set. The Matadors were within one several times, the last at 18-17 when Faulkner, Freiha and Travis Magorien put up a triple block on Sinisa Zarkovic. But that was as close as CSUN would get as the Warriors rallied for four straight points to all but seal a 25-20 win.
Neither team played particularly well in set two but the Warriors managed the 25-15 win. Hawai'i had eight kills while hitting .143 in the frame while the Matadors mustered just five kills while committing seven errors in 19 attacks. A Faulkner kill pulled CSUN within one at 9-8 when the Rainbow Warriors went on an 8-1 run to open up a 17-9 cushion. The set was decided from that point on as Hawai'i opened up the two-set advantage.
With their collective backs against the wall, Campbell made some key lineup changes and it paid off quickly as Beskeen's kill gave the Matadors a 12-6 lead. CSUN still led by six at 13-7 when Hawai'i mounted a rally to cut the lead to 15-12. A kill from Jakub Ciesla kept the Matadors comfortably in front 19-15 but the Warriors continued to cut into the lead, ultimately pulling ahead 23-22 on a Brook Sedore ace. The Matadors were able to save a trio of match points before Zarkovic's kill could not be returned and the match ended in the 3-0 sweep.
Sedore and Jace Olsen each had 10 kills to match Faulkner for match-high honors while Taylor Averil added eight kills while hitting .889 for the Warriors who snapped a four-match skid to CSUN.
The two teams complete the two-match set tomorrow in a rare 2:30 start in The Matadome.
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