February 20, 2009

Matadors Hold Off No.7 Stanford's Upset Bid To Win in Four Sets

Feb. 20, 2009

Final Stats

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Senior Eric Vance had a match-high 28 kills and sophomore Tanner Nua added a career-high 22 as fourth-ranked Cal State Northridge held off the upset bid of No. 7 Stanford, 36-34, 27-30, 31-21, 35-33 in an MPSF match Friday at The Matadome.

The Matadors improve to 11-2 overall and 7-2 in the MPSF and have now won five straight matches overall and five consecutive over the Cardinal. Stanford slips to 8-7 overall and 4-6 in conference play.

Vance led all hitters with 28 kills while hitting .355. The senior All-American also added 14 digs to complete his fourth double-double of the season. Nua, who previous career-high in kills was 15, pounded 22 while hitting .359 to go with three aces and narrowly missed a double-double by matching his career-best with nine digs. Jacek Ratajczak added 14 kills (.565), four blocks (one solo) and two aces while Mike Gaudino also finished in double figures with 13 kills (.184) and posted his third double-double of the season with 11 digs. Matador setter Matt Stork posted a career-high 81 assists and also served a career-high five aces while libero Ali'i Keohohou set a new career-high with 21 digs.

Both teams hit well as the Matadors hit .355 (88-23-183) while the Cardinal hit .310 (64-16-155). After serving a school record 17 aces against Pacific, Northridge aced Stanford 12 times on Friday. The Matadors posted 65 team digs to 57 for the Cardinal while Stanford had a sizable 12.0 to 4.0 edge in team blocks.

After Northridge held a slim 3-2 lead early in the first set, Stanford claimed five of the next six points to open up a 7-4 lead after Gaudino's attack was stuffed by Evan Romero and Brandon Williams. The Cardinal continued to build their lead and led by as many as four points on four separate occasions, the last at 18-14 before the Matadors began to mount a comeback. Stanford led 20-17 before Northridge engineered a 4-1 run, highlighted by back-to-back Vance kills, to knot the score at 21-21. The teams then traded sideouts until a Brad Lawson kill gave the Cardinal set point at 29-28. But Nua answered and the Matadors staved off another set point at 30-29 before a Gaudino-Ratajczak block and a Nua kill gave the Matadors a chance to claim set one. But Vance's attack was blocked and the teams again traded sideouts until 34-34 when back-to-back Stanford hitting errors handed the Matadors set one 36-34.

Set two followed a similar pattern as the Cardinal again jumped out to an early lead forcing the Matadors to play from behind. Kawika Shoji's solo block on Nua gave Stanford a 7-3 lead and the Cardinal led until Lawson's attack went wide giving the Matadors a 10-9 lead. After Stanford closed to within 13-12, Northridge won three of the next four points to take its largest lead at 16-13. But an ensuing three-point Cardinal run tied the score at 16-16. The teams again traded sideouts until 22-22 when Spencer McLachlin and Williams put down back-to-back kills and Stanford would not trail again in the set taking the 30-27 decision.

Set three was tight early on as neither team led by more than one point until the Matadors broke open a 12-12 tie with three straight points. After Stanford battled back to tie things at 16-16, Northridge broke the set open with six straight points, four coming off Stork aces. With the Matadors on top 29-21, Romero's attack went wide and Northridge was up two sets to one.

The fourth and final set featured 20 ties and four lead changes. Stanford held an early 4-2 lead but the Matadors battled back and ultimately took a 14-11 lead following a Vance kill. Northridge held the lead until a Williams kill tied the score again at 22-22. The teams traded sideouts until a Gaudino kill gave the Matadors a chance to close the match at 29-28. But Romero answered and the Cardinal would save five match points before a Kevin McKniff kill followed by a McKniff ace on match point gave the Matadors their fifth straight win.

McLachlin would up leading Stanford with 18 kills (.327) while Romero added 17 (.244) and Lawson chipped in 15 (.314). Kawika Shoji posted a double-double with 49 assists and 10 digs while Erik Shoji had a team-high 14 digs.

Cal State Northridge heads back out on the road for its next two matches beginning next Wednesday, Feb. 25 as the Matadors travel to Malibu for a showdown with Pepperdine. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m.

- GO MATADORS -