Jan. 15, 2011
MALIBU, Calif. - Playing in a facility in which they have had little success over the years, 12th-ranked Cal State Northridge went into Pepperdine's Firestone Fieldhouse and upset the third-ranked Waves 25-19, 22-25, 16-25, 25-18, 15-9 on Saturday night.
The Matadors (2-3, 1-1 MPSF), who had won just once in their last 17 matches in Malibu, earned their first conference win after dropping their opener at top-ranked USC in three sets on Wednesday.
Sophomore John Baker, who earned his first start of the season at opposite, led CSUN with 15 kills while hitting .433 in 30 swings. Baker also added three digs and three blocks. Freshman Brandon Lebrock added 11 kills (.227), four digs and one ace while sophomore Drew Staker chipped in 10 kills (.400) and four blocks. Freshman middle Greg Faulkner also earned the start and contributed nine kills (.400), four blocks and one ace. Fellow freshman Cory Wagner, came off the bench for his first collegiate action, and put down five kills (.286) to go with two digs and one block.
"We started playing well and we hit for a good percentage," said Matador head coach Jeff Campbell. "We passed well and that opened up our outsides as well as our middles."
After trailing early in the opening set, CSUN used a 6-2 run to snap an 11-11 tie. A Lebrock-Faulkner co-block and a Danny Rodrick ace highlighted the rally for the Matadors who also cashed in on four Pepperdine miscues. The lead grew to as many as five at 21-15 following a Maurice Torres hitting error before another co-block, this time from Staker and Dillon Auxier gave CSUN its first set one victory of the season.
Pepperdine won the next two sets hitting .357 in set two and .435 in set three while limiting the Matadors to a .188 clip in set two and .040 in set three.
Faced with having to win the final two sets, Northridge committed just three hitting errors in the final two sets. The score was again tied at 11-11 in set four when the Matadors scored five unanswered to take a 16-11 lead. Faulkner had a kill and a block during the run. The Waves managed to get within two but with CSUN leading 21-18, the Matadors scored the final four points to send the match to a fifth set.
A kill by Staker followed by a Staker-Stork block and a Pepperdine hitting error gave CSUN an early 3-0 lead and the Matadors would never trail in the set. After the Waves closed to within 4-2, Staker had a hand in Northridge tallying four straight points to take an 8-2 lead. Pepperdine pulled as close as 13-9 when back-to-back Wave errors gave the Matadors the 15-9 win.
"We got better from Wednesday's match so that was the most important thing for us," said Campbell. "Pepperdine is a very good team so this a big step forward for us. We're very young and inexperienced but we're starting to figure out how to play to win and get on the same page with each other."
Torres led Pepperdine with a match-high 21 kills (.424) while Matt Pollock added 15 kills (.519) and Chase Ross chipped in 12 (.240). The Waves wound up hitting .302 as a team.
Cal State Northridge travels to UCLA next Wednesday, Jan. 19 before hosting UC Santa Barbara in its home opener next Friday, Jan. 21.
- GO MATADORS -