February 23, 2011

Matadors Fall to Top-Ranked USC 25-21, 27-25, 25-19

Feb. 23, 2011

Final Stats

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Cal State Northridge played solid volleyball but were simply overmatched by top-ranked USC as the Trojans defeated the Matadors 25-21, 27-25, 25-19 Wednesday night at The Matadome.

Northridge (4-11, 3-7 MPSF) hit .256 (32-11-82) as a team, the best the Matadors have hit since posting a .315 clip in a five-set win at Pepperdine on Jan. 15. USC (9-1, 9-1 MPSF) just had too many weapons to contend with as the Trojans overcame a sluggish start to hit .363 (53-16-102) as a team.

Senior Tanner Nua led the Matadors with 10 kills while hitting a solid .400 in 20 swings. The senior opposite has now hit at least .400 in three of CSUN's last six matches. Nua also added five digs, a team-high four blocks (two solo) and one ace to his stat line. Sophomore Drew Staker added seven kills (.455) and freshman Cory Wagner chipped in six (.294).

Matt Stork had 29 assists and six digs but committed five of the Matadors' 11 service errors in the match. Senior libero Kaleo Baxter matched Stork with a team-best six digs in the loss.

CSUN may have caught the Trojans looking ahead as the Matadors took advantage of a pair of USC miscues to open up an early 6-3 lead in the opening set. A Staker kill kept CSUN in front by three at 9-6 before the Trojans claimed five of the next seven points to knot the score at 11-11 following a Murphy Troy ace. Riley McKibbin and Steven Shandrick then teamed up to stuff Greg Faulkner's attack to cap the 5-0 Trojan run which put USC in front to stay 14-11. The lead swelled to as many as six before a late Matador run cut the lead to 24-21 but Tri Bourne's sixth kill of the frame gave the Trojans the 25-21 win.

USC led from the opening point of set two and looked to seal the set early after opening up a 9-3 lead. Trailing 19-14, the Matadors mounted a comeback as kills by Staker and Nua coupled with a trio of Trojan errors tied the score at 20-20. CSUN also drew even at 21-21 and 22-22 before kills from Bourne and Tony Ciarelli gave USC set point at 24-22. But a Nua kill and a Ciarelli hitting error pulled the Matadors even at 24-24. Following a Ciarelli kill, Shandrick's serve found the net and the score was tied for the fifth and final time at 25-25. McKibbin then found Ciarelli for consecutive kills as the Troajsn pulled out the 27-25 win.

With the score knotted at 6-6 in set three, the Trojans used three straight kills from Ciarelli and a Staker hitting error to open up a 10-6 lead. A Stork kill capped a 4-1 Matador run which temporarily cut the USC lead to 11-10 but the Trojans quickly answered with three consecutive kills to boost their lead back to four at 14-10. CSUN could not get within four the rest of the way and McKibbin and Standrick blocked Dillon Auxier on match point sending CSUN to its fourth straight set loss in five home matches this season.

Troy wound up leading USC with a match-high 16 kills (.323) to go with the Trojans' only two aces. Bourne added 14 kills (.524) and Ciarelli chipped in 12 (.286).

Cal State Northridge continues its three-match homestand this Friday, Feb. 25 as the Matadors host ninth-ranked Pepperdine at 7 p.m.

- GO MATADORS -