April 11, 2009
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Senior Eric Vance had a team-high 23 kills but third-ranked Cal State Northridge was upset in four sets, 34-32, 30-25, 23-30, 30-25 by eighth-ranked Long Beach State on Saturday at the Walter Pyramid.
The loss, the Matadors third in their last five matches, drops Northridge to 22-6 overall and 15-6 in the MPSF. The 49ers improve to 13-13 overall and clinch a spot in the MPSF Tournament at 10-11.
Vance's 23 kills (.259) was more than enough to lead the Matadors as no other Northridge hitter had more than eight kills. Matador middles Kevin McKniff (.412) and Jacek Ratajczak (.158) each added eight kills to the Northridge cause but the Matadors were out-hit for the first time this season. Northridge wound up hitting .210 as a team while Long Beach hit .227.
The Matadors jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the first set forcing Long Beach into an early timeout. Northridge eventually boosted its lead to 12-5 when Ratajczak put up a solo block on Dan Alexander. The Matador lead was at least two until the 49ers pulled even at 27-27 on a Josh Riley kill. Long Beach took its first lead of the set at 30-29 on an ace by Alexander. The Matadors saved three set points before an Alexander kill ended the frame at 34-32.
Northridge led just once in the second set after Kyle Friend's hitting error gave the Matadors an early 3-2 lead. LBSU took control from that point on ultimately opening up a 21-15 lead on a Mike Gaudino hitting error. With the Beach up 29-25, Alexander would finish off the second set with a kill on set point.
Northridge bounced back to dominate the third set as the Matadors bolted out to a 10-4 lead on a Vance kill. After hitting a dismal .121 in the second set, Northridge hit .241 while Long Beach hit just .032. The Matadors were never really threatened in the latter stages of the set and a McKniff kill pulled Northirdge within a set at 2-1.
Long Beach State regained momentum immediately in the fourth set and led by as many as five points on three occasions. Northridge cut the 49ers lead to two twice, the last at 20-18, before Long Beach boosted its lead back to six at 26-20 following a Ratajczak hitting error. The Matadors got as close as 28-25 late before kills from Riley and Dean Bittner ended the match.
Bittner led the 49ers with a match-high 25 kills (.224) while Riley added 15 kills while Mike Klipsch handed out 60 assists. Libero Dustin Watten also had 20 digs in the win.
Cal State Northridge wraps up the regular season next Friday, Apr.17 as the Matadors travel to UC Santa Barbara at 7 p.m.
- GO MATADORS -