Feb. 24, 2010
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Redshirt freshman John Baker had the best match of his young career as he pounded a career-high 15 kills to lead fifth-ranked Cal State Northridge past No. 6 USC 30-25, 24-30, 30-22, 30-21 Wednesday night at the Galen Center.
The Matadors (12-4, 9-4 MPSF) snap a two-match losing streak with the win and post their 16th straight win over USC dating back to 2004.
Baker, who has appeared in 10 matches this season off the bench, earned his first career start in place of Tanner Nua and overcame a slow start to knock down 15 kills in 25 swings with three errors for a .480 clip. In addition to one ace and three blocks, he also had a career-high 12 digs for his first collegiate double-double.
Three other Northridge hitters reached double figures as senior Theo Edwards had 13 kills (.074) and eight digs while Kevin McKniff (.429) and Jacek Ratajczak (.391) each added 12 kills. Ratajczak also had a team-high six blocks while Ali'i Keohohou had a season-high 19 digs.
USC (8-6, 6-5 MPSF) was led by Murphy Troy who had a match-high 25 kills while Tony Ciarelli added 20 kills.
The Matadors, who hit .247 (59-23-146) as a team, limited the Trojans to a season-low .156 (59-33-167) hitting clip.
With the score tied 22-22 in the opening set, three consecutive USC miscues led to three Matador points as Northridge took a 25-22 lead. A Ciarelli hitting error gave the Matadors their largest lead at 27-23 before Baker and McKniff teamed up to block Ciarelli on set point.
Northridge struggled in set two, hitting .105 as USC powered to a 30-24 win behind a .350 hitting clip.
The Matadors took a five-point lead (13-8) in set three after a McKniff-Gaudino block. Matt Stork's ace gave the Matadors an 18-9 cushion and the Matadors held on despite the Trojans closing to within four points on three occasions.
Northridge never trailed in the final set as the blew open a 10-7 lead by scoring eight of the next 10 points. McKniff's kill on match point ended the Matadors' brief two-match losing streak.
Cal State Northridge wraps up its season-long, five-match road trip on Friday (Feb. 26) as the Matadors travel to Malibu to take on top-ranked Pepperdine at 7 p.m.
- GO MATADORS -