Jan. 23, 2009
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Senior Eric Vance and sophomore Tanner Nua combined for 25 kills as No. 2 Cal State Northridge won its sixth-straight match to open the 2009 season, 30-21, 30-25, 30-27 over No. 10 UC Santa Barbara Friday at The Matadome.
In winning their 2009 home opener, the Matadors improve to 6-0 overall and remain perfect in the MPSF at 3-0. The loss drops the Gauchos to 2-4 overall and 0-3 in conference play.
Nua had his best hitting night of the young season as the sophomore right side from Palmdale pounded a match-high 13 kills while hitting an impressive .526. Nua committed just three hitting errors in an efficient 19 swings and also added four digs and three blocks. Vance added 12 kills (.292), two aces and matched his career-high with six blocks (two solo). Matt Stork had 45 assists and steered the Matador offense to a season-best .416 team hitting clip. Kevin McKniff chipped in nine kills (.571) and had two of Northridge's six aces.
UCSB took its only lead of the first set at 2-1 after Nua's attack was blocked by Mike Runkle and Scott Slaughter. The Matadors came back to take four of the next five points to take a 5-3 lead on a Nua kill. A Mike Gaudino hitting error pulled the Gauchos within one at 8-7 before Gaudino answered with a kill followed by a UCSB hitting error and the Matadors were back up 10-7. Holding a 16-12 lead, Northridge put the set out of reach with a 5-0 run which put the Matadors in front to stay 21-12. Jacek Ratajczak and Vance teamed up to stuff Menzel on set point as Northridge won the first set 30-21.
Set two stayed close with both teams trading the lead until a Vance kill drew the Matadors even at 8-8. A 4-0 Northridge run ensued and the Matadors went on top to stay at 12-8. UCSB closed to within two at 16-14 and 17-15 but a pair of Gaudino service aces coupled with a pair of Gaucho hitting errors put the Matadors in front 21-15. Four points was as close as UCSB would get down the stretch and Nua's kill at 29-25 put the Matadors up two games to none.
The third and final set was similar to set two as the teams traded the lead until 11-11 when a Cullen Irons hitting error and a pair of McKniff aces put the Matadors in front for good at 14-11. The Gauchos would not go away in this frame as UCSB claimed four of the next six points to pull within 16-15 on a Menzel kill. But another Matador run, this time three straight points put Northridge in front 19-15 capped by a Vance kill. The Gauchos were able to get within two during the latter stages of the set, the final time at 29-27 before McKniff's kill sent the Matadors to their sixth straight win.
Menzel led the Gauchos and matched Nua for match-high in kills with 13 but hit just .147 on the night. Irons also reached double figures with 10 kills (.562) while libero Andy McGuire matched Northridge's Ali'i Keohohou for the match-high in digs with nine.
Cal State Northridge takes its unbeaten record to Hawai'i for two matches next weekend (Jan. 30-31). Both matches are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
- GO MATADORS -