February 19, 2010

Northridge's Two-Set Lead Slips Away as UCLA Upsets Matadors in Five

Feb. 19, 2010

Final Stats

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Top-ranked Cal State Northidge looked to exact some revenge from sixth-ranked UCLA on Friday night but the Bruins stormed back from two sets down to stun the Matadors in five sets (27-30, 28-30, 30-28, 30-14, 15-12) at Pauley Pavilion.

The Matadors (11-4, 8-4 MPSF), who dropped their first road match of the season Wednesday at No. 11 UC Irvine, dropped their season-high second straight on Friday. The Bruins (9-6, 8-4 MPSF) claimed the season sweep over Northridge after snapping a five-match Matador win streak on Jan. 22 in The Matadome.

Senior Theo Edwards had a team-high 14 kills (.122) but fellow senior Kevin McKniff had an incredible match with 13 kills and no errors in 14 swings to hit a career-high .929. Senior Jacek Ratjczak also reached double figures in kills with 11 (.192).

Libero Ali'i Keohohou had a match-high 16 kills and setter Matt Stork narrowly missed another double-double with 52 assists and nine digs to go with four blocks.

The Matadors hit just .164 as a team which was a marked improvement over the season-low .059 they hit in their first match against the Bruins. Neither team served particularly well as the two squads combined for 49 service errors but UCLA had seven aces to two for Northridge.

Jack Polales led a quartet of Bruin hitters in double figures with a match-high 20 kills. UCLA overcame a slow start to hit .270 as a team.

Northridge hit a solid .304 (12-5-23) in the opening set as the Matadors broke open a tight 16-13 set by scoring eight of the next 11 points to take a 24-16 lead. A Mike Gaudino ace gave Northridge its largest lead 28-19 but the Bruins put a scare into the Matadors after claiming eight of the next nine points to claw within 29-27. However, Northridge pulled out the 30-27 win after Dylan Bowermaster's service error on set point.

It was UCLA that took the large lead in set two as the Bruins opened up a 21-16 lead after an Amberg kill. Trailing 24-21 the Matadors rolled off three straight points on a UCLA miscue and kills from McKniff and Edwards to tie the score at 24. Another Edwards kill followed by a Nua kill capped a 5-0 run giving Northridge the lead for good at 26-24. The Bruins pulled within one four times late before a Gaudino kill put the Matadors up two sets to none.

Set three was the tightest of the match as neither team led by more than three until the Bruins cracked open a 22-22 tie with four straight points. After Gaudino and Ratajczak teamed-up to block Polales the Matadors pulled even at 27-27. Ratajczak's kill also knotted the score at 28 before a Polales kill and a Gaudino hitting error handed UCLA the set 30-28. McKniff was a perfect 11-for-11 in kills and attempts after three sets.

The Matadors fell behind 5-1 early in the fourth set and were forced into a timeout. The UCLA lead grew to eight at 10-2 after John Baker's attack was stuffed forcing another Matador timeout. The set then went completely in UCLA's favor as the Bruins took an insurmounatble 20-7 lead following a Polales kill.

In the decisive fifth set, the Bruins took an early 4-2 lead before Edwards' kill pulled the Matadors within one. The UCLA lead was 7-4 before Ratajczak kept Northridge close with a kill. Edwards' hitting error gave the Bruins a 9-5 lead forcing a Matador timeout. A Gaudino kill out of the timeout pulled Northridge within three at 9-6 before two straight UCLA points forced the Matadors into another timeout. Back-to-back kills from Edwards pulled Northridge within three at 13-10 but Baker's service error set the Bruins up for match point. The Matadors would not die however as Northridge saved two match points before Kyle Caldwell's kill gave UCLA the come-from-behind win.

Cal State Northridge wraps up its season-long, five-match road trip next week as the Matadors travel to USC on Wednesday and Pepperdine on Friday.

- GO MATADORS -

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