March 18, 2009
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Playing a starting lineup mixed with both starters and reserves, second-ranked Cal State Northridge defeated Lees-McRae 30-23, 30-21, 30-19 in a non-conference match Wednesday at The Matadome.
With the win, the Matadors improve to 18-3 on the season and improve to 11-1 on the home floor. The loss drops the Bobcats to 13-4.
Senior All-American Eric Vance did not start for the first time this season but came on midway through the first set and wound up with a match-high 14 kills. Vance, who had three hitting errors in 22 swings to hit .500, also added three aces. Junior Mike Gaudino also had a solid night as he added a double-double of 11 kills and a match-high 11 digs to go with a match-high four aces. Fellow junior Shane Nelson earned his first start of the season and responded with 10 kills while hitting .286. Matt Stork posted 39 assists and had the Matadors' eighth ace in the match.
Northridge hit .440 (54-14-91) in the match and limited the Bobcats to a .187 (30-16-75) hitting effort. The Matadors also had a slight 4.0 to 2.0 edge in team blocks.
Northridge trailed just once in the entire match as an attack error by the Matadors' Theo Edwards briefly put Lees-McRae on top 11-10 early in the first set. But a Jacek Ratajczak kill evened the score and with Ratajczak at the service line, Northridge rolled off six straight points to open up a 17-11 lead. The Matador lead never fell below three points the rest of the way and Gaudino's kill ended the set at 30-23.
In the second set, a Kevin McKniff kill put the Matadors comfortably in front 16-9 and the Northridge lead grew to as many as nine (20-11) after a Ryan Black's attack went wide. The Matadors were not threatened the rest of the way and Gaudino again wrapped up the set with a kill.
After Northridge took an early lead in the final set, the Bobcats put together a three-point run to overcome an 11-8 Matador lead. A service error by Ian Bryner followed by a Vance kill put Northridge back in from 13-11. Lees-McRae's Chad Mercado's kill narrowed the gap to 13-12 but the Bobcats would get no closer the rest of the set as the Matadors won seven of the next eight points to take an insurmountable 20-13 lead. Gaudino completed the trifecta by wrapping up the third set with his 11th kill of the night.
Colin Kelly wound up leading Lees-McRae with 13 kills but hit just .188. Mercado added 10 kills (.333) and served all three of the Bobcats' aces. Libero Robert Ritchie also posted a team-high six digs.
Cal State Northridge wraps up its seven-match homestand on Saturday as the Matadors host Hope International in a non-conference match beginning at 7 p.m.
- GO MATADORS -