Homestand Off To a Good Start as Matadors Power Past UC San Diego in Three

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Cal State Northridge got its season-long, four-match homestand off to a good start as Sam Holt and Greg Faulkner combined for 23 kills as the 15th-ranked Matadors swept the visiting UC San Diego Tritons, 25-20, 25-21, 25-21 in a MPSF match Wednesday night at The Matadome.

The Matadors improved to 4-8 overall and 4-7 in the MPSF while defeating UC San Diego for the 44th time in their last 45 meetings.

CSUN hit a blistering .410 as a team which is a near season-high. The Matadors hit .444 against Cal Baptist in their first win of the season.

"I thought we were very steady tonight and any win in this league is a good win," said head coach Jeff Campbell. "We've had some injuries lately and we've had a completely different lineup in just about every match since we beat USC. Things have changed quite a bit but hopefully we'll get a little momentum from this win and continue to play high-level volleyball." 

Holt led CSUN with a match-high 13 kills, hitting .500 on 24 attacks. It was Holt's best offensive output since putting down a career-high 19 kills also against Cal Baptist. The sophomore also added two of the Matadors' four aces while also digging three UCSD attacks.

Faulkner matched his season-high for the third time in the last five matches as he put down 10 kills while committing just one error on 14 swings to hit .643. Junior Kyle Stevenson also had his best offensive match of the season with nine kills on .353 hitting.

In snapping a five-match skid, the Matadors got 32 assists and a pair of aces from setter Travis Magorien while Jakub Ciesla contributed a team-high eight digs to go with six kills.

CSUN opened up sizable leads in each of the three sets, leading by 10 (17-7) in set one, seven (19-12) in set two and six (22-16) in set three. The Tritons, however, put together late runs in each set to make things interesting.

In set one, after opening up the 10-point cushion the Matadors had to withstand a late Triton run which saved three set points. Trailing 24-17, three straight UCSD points forced the Matadors into a timeout at 24-20 but Holt's kill on the ensuing point put CSUN up one set.

After opening up the 19-12 lead in set two, the Tritons outscored the Matadors 5-1 over the next six points to cut the CSUN lead to 20-17. But a kill from Magorien followed by a Magorien-Faulkner block pushed the lead back to 22-17 and despite UCSD saving one set point at 24-21, Faulkner's kill out of the middle gave CSUN the two-set lead.

After seeing just one tie score over the first two sets, set three saw five ties, the latest coming at 5-5 when CSUN took command with a 5-0 run highlighted by kills from Stevenson, Faulkner and Ciesla. The Tritons crept within a point at 11-10 before CSUN answered with a 4-1 run to boost its lead to 15-11. After the Matadors led by as many as five, UCSD got within three a few times over the final points, the last at 24-21 before Holt's kill ended the match.

Mike Brunsting had 12 kills (.286) to lead the Tritons who dropped to 0-14 overall and 0-13 in conference play.

Cal State Northridge continues its season-long, four-match homestand Friday as the Matadors host No. 7 UC Irvine at 7 p.m.