LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The true test of a young team is to play consistently night after night. In the ultra competitive MPSF, the Cal State Northridge men's volleyball team is still searching for that consistency.
The Matadors (7-13, 6-12 MPSF) returned to conference play on Friday, traveling to No. 7 USC, a team CSUN swept earlier in the season. The Matadors were coming off a hard-fought upset in five sets over Ohio State last Saturday but could not replicate the victory as CSUN fell in straight sets (25-20, 25-20, 25-20) to the Trojans at North Gym.
Sophomore Sam Holt paced the Matadors with 10 kills but was largely held in check hitting .219 on a team-high 32 attacks. Junior Greg Faulkner added eight kills while hitting .462 to go with three blocks and Kyle Stevenson chipped in seven kills (.227). Faulkner also served CSUN's lone ace in the match while libero Bradley Sakaida had a team-high 10 digs.
The Matadors wound up hitting .218 (30-11-87) to the Trojans .326 (42-13-89). USC also had six aces to CSUN's one and posted a 36-29 advantage in team digs.
Leading 5-4 in the opening set, the Trojans outscored the Matadors 5-1 over the next six points to take a 10-5 lead. The USC lead remained five at 13-8 when Stevenson's serve sailed long but an ensuing four-point CSUN run cut the lead to 13-12. A Brian O'Gorman kill kept the Matadors within one at 14-13 but CSUN would get no closer eventually going down 20-16 when Faulkner's attack was stuffed at the net.
The Matadors had to overcome another five-point gap in set two as CSUN fell behind 13-8 when Faulkner was whistled for a blocking error. The margin was still three at 20-17 when consecutive Trojan miscues put CSUN within one at 20-19. But again the Matadors could not take the lead as consecutive USC points put the Trojans back on top 22-19 and USC won going away 25-20.
The Matadors held a lead as late as 8-7 in the final set before the Trojans rolled off three straight points to take the lead for good 10-8. CSUN kept it close, trailing only by one at 15-14 but USC would never relinquish the lead taking the set 25-20 and the match 3-0.
Tanner Jansen led USC (13-8, 12-8 MPSF) with 13 kills (.500) while Lucas Yoder added 11 kills (.250).
Cal State Northridge is halfway through a six-match road trip as the Matadors play match number four Saturday night at fourth-ranked Pepperdine.
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