LA JOLLA, Calif. - Cal State Northridge wrapped up its season-long, six-match road trip on a winning note as the Matadors came back from a two sets to one deficit to top host UC San Diego 25-14, 19-25, 22-25, 26-24, 15-12 Saturday at RIMAC Arena.
It wasn't easy, but the Matadors (8-15, 7-13 MPSF) remained unbeaten on the Tritons home court for the 26th consecutive season. CSUN has not lost in La Jolla since 1988 and had not been pushed to five at UCSD since 2001.
Greg Faulkner's career-high 18 kills fueled the CSUN comeback as the junior middle shattered his previous high of 12. Faulkner had 18 kills with just two errors on 29 swings which is also a career-high. He completed his career night with five digs and seven blocks to account for 22 points.
Sophomore Sam Holt added 16 kills (.250) while fellow sophomore Vaughn Wellenreiter also had a career match with 10 kills in 15 swings (.600) to go with three aces, three digs and five blocks, two of which were solo stuffs and all were career-highs.
CSUN hit .303 (62-22-132) as a team and had 62 kills to 47 for the Tritons. The Matadors, who also had a sizable 16.0-7.5 advantage in blocks, out-pointed UCSD 82.0-62.5 but surrendered 24 points on service errors alone.
After the Matadors dominated set one, hitting .500 to the Tritons' -.278, UCSD evened things up in set two outhitting CSUN .414-.219. Both teams hit well in the third frame but the Tritons built enough of a lead to take a two sets to one advantge.
Needing to win the final two sets to avoid the upset, CSUN held off a late Triton run to force a fifth set. With set point at 24-21 in the fourth, the Matadors watched as UCSD saved three set points with consecutive kills by Nick Iorfino followed by a block on Kyle Stevenson's attack. CSUN however took advantage of an Iorfino hitting error on the next point and then won the set when Wellenreiter put up a solo block on a Triton swing.
Set five went back-and-forth until 9-9 when a pair of UCSD miscues, the last coming on a Damani Lenore block, put CSUN in front 11-9. The Matadors built the lead to three (13-10) on a Faulkner-Lenore block and then closed the match on a Wellenreiter kill.
Iorfino led the Tritons (2-21, 1-20 MPSF) with 18 kills (.344) while Johl Awerkamp added 11 (.231).
Cal State Northridge returns home for three of its final four regular season matches beginning next Thursday, Apr. 3 against UCLA.
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