Matadors Fall in MPSF Championship to Stanford 30-24, 30-28, 30-17

May 1, 2010

Final Stats

STANFORD, Calif. - The third time turned out to be the charm for Stanford as the Cardinal swept Cal State Northridge 30-24, 30-28, 30-17 to win the MPSF Tournament Championship Saturday at Maples Pavilion. Senior Jacek Ratajczak led the Matadors with 15 kills.

Northridge (23-9) had defeated Stanford (22-6) twice this season but came up short in Saturday's final after defeating BYU in five sets in the semifinals on Thursday. The Cardinal earn the MPSF's automatic NCAA Tournament berth while the Matadors will wait until Sunday to see if they are awarded the NCAA at-large berth.

The Matadors were looking for their first MPSF Championship in 17 years but Ratajczak's team-high 15 kills weren't enough as Northridge hit .219 (46-23-105) as a team. Stanford, the best hitting team in the nation, wound up hitting .392 (56-16-102) behind 19 kills from Evan Romero and 15 from Brad Lawson.

Ratajczak hit a solid .500 with 15 kills in 26 swings with just two errors. He also had a pair of blocks, including one solo. Fellow middle Kevin McKniff added eight kills but hit just .235 to go with one of Northridge's two aces. Tanner Nua came off the bench to put down seven kills (.385) and John Baker (.056) and Theo Edwards (.000) each chipped in six kills with Baker also contributing three digs and the other Matador ace.

In addition to being out-hit .392-.219, the Matadors were out-aced 6-2 and out-blocked 13.5-5.0.

"We came out flat and didn't play very well in game one," said Northridge head coach Jeff Campbell. "I don't want to take anything away from Stanford, I thought they were very sharp the whole match. They were definitely the better team tonight.

"We had a lead at the end of game two but weren't able to put it away," said Campbell. "Hitting .219 is just not good enough to beat a team like Stanford who played so well tonight."

In the opening set, Northridge fell behind big early and played catch-up the entire set. With the Matadors trailing 4-2, Baker's hitting error followed by a Lawson kill and an Edwards hitting error gave Stanford an early 7-2 lead forcing a Northridge timeout. Things only got worse for the Matadors out of the timeout as back-to-back hitting errors by Ratajczak and Edwards followed by a Gus Ellis-Romero block extended the Cardinal lead to 10-2. Stanford scored four more times before a Spencer McLachlin service error ended the 12-point run.

The Matadors trailed by double digits until a Tanner Nua block and a Stanford hitting error pulled Northridge within eight (20-12) forcing the Cardinal to call timeout. The Matadors, with Baker serving, extended the run to 9-0 trimming the Stanford lead to 20-18. That was as close as Northridge would get as the Cardinal built their lead back to five at 29-24 before a Kawika Shoji ace ended the set 30-24.

The Matadors hit .050 in set one (12-10-40) while Stanford hit .190 (17-9-42).

The teams traded the lead for the early portion of set two with Stanford holding the biggest early lead at 5-3. After a series of sideouts, Northridge got a kill from Baker followed by a pair of Cardinal hitting errors to take a 13-11 lead forcing a Stanford timeout. The Matadors took their largest lead (15-12) on an Edwards kill. However a 3-0 Stanford run ensued and the set was tied again at 15.

After Northridge again built a pair of three-point leads, the last at 22-19, the Cardinal put together another 3-0 run to tie the score at 22-22 forcing a Matador timeout. Northridge would not surrender the lead until a Romero kill gave Stanford the lead at 28-27, the Cardinal's first lead since 11-10. After a McKniff kill knotted the score at 28, Gaudino's attack was stuffed and a Lawson kill put Stanford up two sets to none.

Northridge hit far better in set two hitting at .342 but the Cardinal hit .471. After hitting .111 in the first set, Ratajczak hit .750 with nine kills in 12 swings in set two.

After a Ratajczak kill and a Gaudino-Ratajczak block gave the Matadors an early 5-3 lead in set three, Stanford claimed nine of the next 10 points to open up a 12-6 cushion. The Cardinal lead grew to as many as eight at 18-10 following a Lawson ace. Stanford led 24-14 before a Nua kill pulled the Matadors within nine at 25-16 but Northridge would get no closer falling 30-17 in the final set.

- GO MATADORS -