March 10, 2010
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Freshman John Baker had a team-high 13 kills and senior Kevin McKniff served a career-high five aces leading third-ranked Cal State Northridge to a 30-26, 31-29, 30-25 win over 10th-ranked UC Santa Barbara Wednesday at Robertson Gym.
The Matadors (14-6, 11-6 MPSF) claimed the important conference road win as they head into a stretch of three straight non-conference matches over the next two weeks. The straight-set win was the first over the Gauchos (10-10, 7-7 MPSF) this season and dropped UCSB to 2-8 at home.
As a team, Northridge hit .287 (42-15-94) while Baker's 13 kills was a team-high. The freshman also had one of the Matadors' seven aces but committed eight of the teams' 15 hitting errors in the match. McKniff, who knocked down eight kills while hitting .500, had a career-best five aces and just two service errors. Senior Mike Gaudino chipped in eight kills in 16 attempts with no errors while Theo Edwards and Jacek Ratajczak each added six kills apiece.
The Matadors trailed 23-21 in the opening set before a pair of Gaucho hitting errors and a kill from Baker gave Northridge a 24-23 lead. The teams would trade points until 26-26, but another error from UCSB combined with a kill and a pair of blocks from McKniff gave the Matadors the 30-26 set one victory.
The Gauchos led by as many as four in set two as Baker's hitting error put UCSB up 18-14. After a short Matador run, a pair of Gaucho hitting errors tied things at 27-27. The two teams then traded sideouts until 29-29 when Baker put down a kill and McKniff came up with his only block of the match to send Northridge to the 31-29 victory.
Northridge took an early 12-8 lead in the final set only to watch as the Gauchos battled back to tie the score at 14-14. With the score tied 15-15, a Gaudino kill followed by a pair of Jeff Menzel hitting errors gave the Matadors an 18-15 lead they would never relinquish. After UCSB closed to within 28-25 late, a Menzel service error gave the Matadors match point and Baker cashed in on his next swing.
Menzel led the Gauchos with a match-high 15 kills, but hit just .111 in the loss. Scott Slaughter added 10 kills on 15 attempts (.467). Libero Andy McGuire scooped a match-high 13 digs.
Cal State Northridge returns home to host Loyola-Chicago in a non-conference match Saturday at 7 p.m.
- GO MATADORS -