March 18, 2011

Matadors Upset No. 2 BYU in Straight Sets 25-23, 25-21, 29-27

March 18, 2011

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Senior Tanner Nua knocked down a season-high 16 kills and junior Matt Stork added 15 as Cal State Northridge upset second-ranked BYU in straight sets (25-23, 25-21, 29-27) Friday night at The Matadome.

The Matadors (6-15, 4-10 MPSF), who improved to 3-7 on their home court, now have two home wins this season over teams ranked second in the AVCA Top-15 poll. Northridge also knocked off No. 2 Long Beach State in five sets on Feb. 11. The Cougars (13-7, 9-6 MPSF) have now dropped a season-high three straight matches.

After experimenting with a number of different lineups this season, Matador head coach appears to have settled on a starting seven and it paid immediate dividends. With Nua back on the right side and Stork making his fourth start of the season at outside hitter, CSUN had enough offense to hold off BYU.

Nua, who came in with a season-high 13 kills, pounded a team-high 16 while hitting a solid .371 in 35 swings. He also added five digs and a pair of blocks. Stork, who put down a career-high 18 kills against Loyola last week, added 15 kills (.286), five digs and two aces against the Cougars.

The Matador middles held their own and more against BYU as freshman Greg Faulkner had eight kills while hitting .583 and sophomore Drew Staker added seven kills while hitting .545. Freshman Brandon Lebrock also chipped in six kills (.267) and matched Stork with two aces. Setter Danny Rodrick registered a season-high 46 assists, three digs and one ace while leading the Matadors to a .373 (52-14-102) hitting clip.

The Cougars also hit well checking in at .345 (47-17-87) and had 29 team digs to 23 for CSUN. BYU, the top blocking team in the MPSF, also out-blocked the Matadors 7.5-3.0.

The Cougars opened up an early 6-3 lead in the opening set only to see Northridge rally for three straight on kills by Nua and Lebrock and a Stork-Staker block. Staker's kill gave the Matadors their first lead at 8-7 before the lead would change hands four more times and seven times in the frame. With the score tied 12-12, the Cougars used a triple block followed by a Taylor Sander ace to open up a 14-12 lead.

BYU also led by two at 18-16 before a Cougar hitting error and a Nua kill evened things at 18-18. The teams then traded sideouts until 23-23 when the Matadors got a kill from Stork and when Alex DaPron's attack went long, CSUN had the 25-23 win.

The Matadors led early in set two but the Cougars quickly took the lead 4-3 following a Sander kill. Robb Stowell and Quentin Smith then teamed-up to stuff Lebrock giving the Cougars a 7-5 lead and BYU's lead swelled to as many as three at 10-7, 11-8 and 12-9. Stowell's kill kept the Cougars in front 13-11 before the Matadors put together a set-changing 6-0 run. CSUN got kills from Staker, Nua and Lebrock along with a trio of BYU hitting errors to open up its largest lead at 17-13.

The Cougars pulled within one on a pair of occasions, the last at 18-17, but the Matadors used a late 3-0 run to open up a 24-19 lead. After the Cougars saved two set points to get within 24-21, Staker put the Matadors up two sets with his kill on set point.

Northridge led from the outset in set three jumping out to an early 9-4 lead. But BYU kept within striking distance and battled back to within one at 20-19. The Matadors built the lead back to three at 23-20 following a Stork kill but three consecutive Cougar points knotted the score at 23-23. Nua's ensuing kill gave CSUN match point at 24-23 but Sander answered and the set was headed to extra points.

Another Sander kill gave BYU its first set point but Nua answered evening the score 25-25. The Cougars went to Sander twice more and his kills gave BYU two more chances at the set only to be denied each time. Trailing 27-26, back-to-back Stork kills gave the Matadors match point at 28-27 and CSUN cashed in when Nua and Rodrick blocked Sander's attack and the Matadors had the 3-0 win.

Stowell (.407) and Sander (.387) each had 17 kills to lead the Cougars while Futi Tavana chipped in eight kills while hitting .636.

The same two teams will match up again on Saturday as Cal State Northridge wraps up a four-match homestand against the Cougars at 7 p.m.

- GO MATADORS -

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