March 26, 2010
MUNCIE, Ind. - Senior Kevin McKniff pounded a match-high 13 kills as third-ranked Cal State Northridge opened up a two-match set at Ball State with a 30-22, 30-24, 30-28 straight set victory Friday at Worthen Arena.
The Matadors (16-6) ran their current win streak to three as they overcame an early morning flight to Indiana on Thursday as well as a large Worthen Arena crowd on Friday.
In what was billed as a match between two teams with solid middles, McKniff stood tallest as the senior pounded a match-high 13 kills while hitting .632. He also added four aces and now has nine aces in his last three matches. Fellow senior Theo Edwards rebounded from a stretch of tough matches to add 11 kills (.214) to go with one ace, three digs and two blocks. McKniff's fellow middle Jacek Ratajczak added eight kills (.176) and contributed a match-high six blocks (one solo).
"We passed a little bit better than they did which was a big difference tonight," said Matador head coach Jeff Campbell. "Kevin (McKniff) had a good match and Ali'i (Keohohou) and Mike (Gaudino) really passed well.
"It was a nice win," added Campbell. "But we'll certainly have to focus and regroup and get into a better groove tomorrow night."
Leading 20-18 in the opening set, the Matadors used a pair of McKniff kills and a pair of Cardinal hitting errors to open up a 24-18 lead. The Northridge lead swelled to 29-20 following three consecutive Ball State hitting errors, one coming on a Ratajczak solo block, and an Edwards kill ended the frame 30-22.
The second set was tight early as the two teams battled to an 11-11 tie. An Edwards kill followed by an Edwards ace gave the Matadors a 13-11 lead they would never relinquish. Holding a slim 17-15 advantage, Northridge then engineered an 8-2 run to open up an eight-point cushion at 25-17. The Cardinals battled back to within 29-24 before John Baker's kill gave the Matadors the two-set advantage.
Set three was the tightest of the match as the teams traded sideouts until 20-20. A Ratajczak hitting error followed by an Eric Schulte kill gave Ball State a 22-20 lead forcing a Matador timeout. Another Edwards kill pulled Northridge within 22-21 but two more Cardinal points put Ball State up 24-21. A Matt Sprague kill kept the Cardinals' two-point lead intact at 26-24 before kills from Gaudino and McKniff and a Ball State hitting error put the Matadors back on top 27-26. Following a Cardinal timeout, Dominic Spadavecchio's kill evened the set for the final time at 27-27. Northridge then used a Tanner Nua kill and a McKniff block to open up a 29-27 lead and McKniff's kill at set point sent the Matadors to the straight set win.
Schulte paced the Cardinals (12-8) with eight kills (.167) while Anders Nelson (.273) and J.D. Gasparovic (.154) each added six kills. Ball State hit .157 (40-24-102) as a team.
The Matadors and Cardinals wrap up the two-match set Saturday at 7:30 EDT.
- GO MATADORS -