Matadors Open MPSF Season with 30-24, 30-26, 30-28 Win Over No. 11 UC San Diego

Jan. 13, 2010

Final Stats

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Senior Theo Edwards knocked down a team-high 14 kills while Tanner Nua added 11 and Mike Gaudino chipped in 10 as No. 2 Cal State Northridge swept No. 11 UC San Diego in its home and MPSF opener 30-24,30-26, 30-28 Wednesday at The Matadome.

The Matadors (4-0, 1-0 MPSF) claim their home opener for the third straight season while handing the Tritons (1-3, 0-1 MPSF) their third loss in four matches to open the season.

Edwards, who has been instrumental in Northridge's early season success, delivered 14 kills in 24 swings with six errors for a .333 hitting clip and also added a pair of aces. Nua also hit well as he notched 11 kills while hitting .304 while Gaudino bounced back from a rough start to post 10 kills while hitting .286.

Jacek Ratajczak and Kevin McKniff, the Northridge middles who were so dominant in the three wins in Santa Barbara, had eight and seven kills repsectively. McKniff had a team-high five blocks while Ratajczak matched Edwards with two aces. Matador setter Matt Stork had 46 assists and three digs as Northridge hit .320 (52-19-103).

Northridge had trouble separating themselves from UCSD for much of the first two sets. The Matadors held slim three point leads at 8-5 and 14-11 in set one but could never pull away. A 4-1 Triton run pulled UCSD even at 15-15 before Nua's kill kept the Matadors in front. Frank Fritsch's kill evened things again at 16-16 but a 4-0 Northridge run, capped by a Nua-McKniff block, put the Matadors on top 20-16. Northridge eventually won six of the next seven points to take its largest lead at 22-17 following a Jason Spangler hitting error. A 3-1 run pulled the Tritons within three at 23-20 but UCSD would get no closer and another hitting error gave Northridge the set 30-24.

After the Tritons took an early 8-6 lead in the second set, the two teams traded sideouts until the Matadors went up 14-13 on a Ratajczak kill. Another Fritsch kill knotted the score but a serice error followed by another Triton hitting error put Northridge in front to stay. Edwards' ace gave the Matadors their largest cushion 25-19 before Norhridge closed the set on a Fritsch hitting error.

UCSD looked to force a fourth set as the Tritons bolted out to a 6-1 lead in set three. But the Matadors slowly climbed back in it and Edwards' second ace of the match pulled Northridge even for the first time at 16-16. The Matadors took their first lead of the set at 19-18 after a Gaudino kill and would hold the lead until Spangler's ace tied the score 26-26. The score was tied twice more (at 27 and 28) before a Nua kill followed by an Edwards-Ratajczak block sent the Matadors to their fourth straight win to open the season.

Fritsch led the Tritons with a match-high 16 kills (.333) and six digs while Spangler added seven kills (.125). Phil Bannan added 29 assists and five digs for UCSD which hit .174 (35-20-86) as a team. The Tritons did post a slight 11.0-10.5 advantage in team blocks led by Adrian Guthals' six.

Cal State Northridge heads to No. 9 Long Beach State on Friday, Jan. 15 for its MPSF road opener. First serve at Walter Pyramid is scheduled for 7 p.m.