Matadors Fall to Pepperdine in MPSF Tournament Semifinals

April 30, 2009

Final Stats

IRVINE, Calif. - As has happened all too often for Northridge volleyball fans, Pepperdine put an end to the Matador tournament run as the second-seeded Waves defeated the third-seeded Matadors 27-30, 40-38, 30-26, 30-23 in the MPSF semifinals Thursday at UC Irvine's Bren Events Center.

Northridge, which has now been eliminated in the MPSF semifinals in two consecutive seasons, sees its season record fall to 24-7. The Matadors have now been knocked out of the MPSF Tournament by Pepperdine four times since 2004.

Vance was again the one to lead Northridge as the senior put down 31 kills while hitting .377 in what was possibly his final collegiate match. He also completed his ninth double-double by adding 12 digs. Junior Mike Gaudino added 19 kills (.341), seven digs and three blocks while junior Kevin McKniff and Jacek Ratajczak each chipped in 11 kills. Matt Stork also posted a double-double with 63 assists and 12 digs while libero Ali'i Keohohou posted a match-high 17 digs in the loss.

In set one, neither team led by more than one point until Northridge took a 5-3 lead on a Nua kill. Three straight Pepperdine points gave the Waves their first lead of the night at 6-5. But back-to-back Vance kills gave the Matadors the lead back at 7-6. After a Pepperdine kill, Northridge received a Gaudino kill, a Pepperdine hitting error and a block from Ratajczak and Nua to open up a 10-7 lead forcing a Wave timeout.

Northridge also led by three at 11-8 before Pepperdine tallied five of the next seven points to knot the score at 13-13. Kills from Stork, Gaudino and Vance put the Matadors back in front 16-13 forcing a second Pepperdine timeout. The Northridge lead was at least two until the Waves pulled within 23-22 on a Rodnei Santos kill. But a pair of kills from Vance and a Nua kill boosted the lead back to four at 26-22. Pepperdine again closed to within one at 28-27 but consecutive kills from Gaudino put the Matadors up one set to none. Vance led Northridge with eight kills in the set and the Matadors had reason to be upbeat as they came in 21-2 when winning the first set in matches this season.

After Northridge held early leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in set two, but the Waves scored three straight to take a 4-2 advantage. The Pepperdine lead swelled to as many as five at 11-6 following a Paul Carroll kill. The Waves also led by five at 13-8 before the Matadors slowly began to mount a comeback. Gaudino's solo block pulled the Matadors within one at 16-15 and Northridge eventually tied the score at 18-18 on a McKniff-Ratajczak block.

The Waves would not surrender the lead and boosted their lead back to four at 24-20. A Vance kill, a Pepperdine hitting error and a McKniff ace capped a 3-0 Matador run which closed the gap to 24-23 but Northridge would not take another lead until Cory Riecks hitting error gave the Matadors set point at 30-29. Then in what turned out to be the second longest set in the MPSF this season, Northridge had six set points and Pepperdine had five before the Waves cashed in a Carroll kill and Vance's attack went wide on set point and set two went to Pepperdine 40-38.

In set three, the Waves led from start to finish as they jumped out to an early 6-3 lead following a Carroll kill. The Matadors fell behind 10-5 but engineered a 6-2 run to pull within 12-11 following a Vance put-away. Northridge also trailed by one at 13-12 before Pepperdine rolled off six consecutive point s to break open the set at 19-12. A McKniff-Gaudino block stopped the bleeding temporarily at 19-13 but the Matadors were forced to come from behind the rest of the way. A Nua-McKniff block got Northridge within 29-26 but Pepperdine cashed in on its third set point when Santos' kill found the floor.

Playing to stay in the match in set four, the Matadors feel behind 7-4 before back-to-back Vance kills pulled Northridge within one at 7-6. That turned out to be as close as the Matadors would get the remainder of the set as Pepperdine eventually built a 20-13 lead. Vance's 31st and final kill brought Northridge within 29-23 but the Wave lead was never less than five points to rest of the way and Carroll sent Pepperdine into the final with his 33rd kill on match point.

Carroll wound up with a match-high 33 kills (.377) while Matt McKee contributed 13 kills (.276) and Cory Riecks added 12 (.226). Carroll, the MPSF Player of the Year, also had a team-high 16 digs and four blocks.