February 28, 2009

Fourth-Ranked Matadors Sweep No. 5 USC For Seventh Consecutive Win

Feb. 28, 2009

Final Stats

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Senior All-American Eric Vance pounded a match-high 18 kills and Jacek Ratajczak and Tanner Nua each added 11 as No. 4 Cal State Northridge swept No. 5 USC 30-23, 34-32, 30-26 in an MPSF match Saturday at the Galen Center.

The win is the Matadors' seventh straight which surpasses the six-match win streak that opened the season. Northridge (13-2, 9-2 MPSF) also ran its winning streak over USC to a remarkable 13 straight matches, CSUN's second-longest current win streak over an MPSF opponent. The loss drops the Trojans to 11-4 overall and 8-3 in the MPSF.

Vance, who had 23 kills in the Matadors' upset of top-ranked Pepperdine on Wednesday, came back with 18 kills while hitting .455 on Saturday. The senior also added a pair of aces, four digs and one block in the win. Ratajczak added 11 kills hitting an efficient .588 with just one error in 17 swings. Nua also put down 11 kills while hitting .304. Setter Matt Stork, the current MPSF Co-Player of the Week, registered 46 assists, two kills, one ace and five digs while leading the Matadors to a .379 hitting clip. Junior libero Ali'i Keohohou led the Matador defense with a match-high 12 digs.

A Sean Dennis kill gave USC an early 2-1 lead but back-to-back kills from Vance and Nua gave Northridge the 3-2 and the Matadors never trailed again. With the score knotted 7-7, Northridge scored five of the next seven points to take a 12-9 lead following a Dennis hitting error. After the Trojans trimmed the Matador lead to 13-11, Northridge used a USC hitting error, a Gaudino solo block and a McKniff ace to open up a 16-11 cushion. The Matadors continued to lead by as many as five until Vance's attack was blocked by Dennis and Austin Zahn which pulled the Trojans within two at 20-18. Two was a close as USC would get and after Murphy Troy's attack sailed long, Northridge was back up by five at 25-20. The Matadors built the lead to seven at 29-22 before a Vance kill ended the set.

Set two saw the Trojans jump out to an 8-5 lead following a Troy kill. But an ensuing 4-0 Matador run quickly put Northridge back on top 9-8 after a Gaudino ace. Northridge continued to hold the lead until a Ratajczak service error pulled USC even at 18-18. The straight Trojan points gave USC its largest lead of the frame at 21-18. The Trojans also led 22-19 before the Matadors engineered a 5-0 run, highlighted by a McKniff kill, a McKniff-Stork block and back-to-back Vance aces, to reclaim the lead 24-22. Northridge maintained its lead and had a chance at set two at 29-28, but Theo Edwards' serve went long. The Matadors had their second set point at 30-29 following another Vance kill but a Troy kill followed by a McKniff hitting error gave USC its first set point at 31-30. The Trojans had their second set point at 32-31 but a Ratajczak kill and back-to-back hitting errors by Troy handed the Matadors set two 34-32.

USC looked to get back in the match in set three as the Trojans led by as many as three points at 14-11 and 19-16. But a Vance kill followed by a Tony Ciarelli hitting error and a McKniff-Nua block on another Ciarelli attack pulled the Matadors even at 19-19. Three more points capped a 6-0 Northridge run which gave the Matadors their largest lead of the set 22-19. A Nua kill opened up a four-point lead for Northridge at 24-20 and the Matadors led 29-26 before a Zahn service error ended the match.

Troy led the Trojans with 16 kills (.367) while Zahn posted eight kills (.467) and a match-high five blocks. Ciarelli, USC's second leading attacker, was held to six kills while hitting -.086. The Trojans wound up hitting .260 as a team.

After a highly successful two-match road trip, Northridge returns to open up a season-long seven-match homestand on Thursday, Mar. 5. The Matadors will host eighth-ranked BYU for two matches Thursday and Friday. First serve for both matches is scheduled for 7 p.m. in The Matadome.

- GO MATADORS -

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