Northridge Opens Road Trip with 25-23, 17-25, 35-33, 25-11 Loss at Pacific

STOCKTON, Calif. - A marathon 35-33 third set proved to be the difference as Cal State Northridge dropped a 25-23, 17-25, 35-33, 25-11 decision to the host Pacific Tigers in Big West action Friday night at the Spanos Center.

The Matadors (8-8, 2-2 Big West), who were looking to take control of the match after a 25-17 win in set two, had six swings at the third set but could not find the winning kill and the Tigers (11-7, 2-3 Big West) took advantage of a pair of late CSUN miscues to wrestle control of the match with the 35-33 win.

Sophomore Natalie Allen led the Matadors with 13 kills (.323) while freshman Casey Hinger added 12 kills but was limited to a .132 hitting clip after hitting .379 in her last two matches. Hinger also added a team-high seven blocks. Sam Kaul (.375) and Mahina Haina (.121) each chipped in nine kills for CSUN which wound up hitting .137 in the match.

Libero Cindy Ortiz had a season-high 31 digs and setter Sydney Gedryn posted 46 assists, five kills, six digs and four blocks in the loss. 

In the opening set, CSUN nearly overcame a 17-12 Pacific lead. A four-point Matador run pulled Northridge within 17-16 and the Matadors then drew even at 19-19 following an Allen ace. Another Allen ace followed by a Hinger-Britney Graff co-block gave the Matadors their first lead at 21-19. The lead was short-lived however as Pacific got three straight kills (two from Rebekah Torres) to take back the lead for good at 22-21. Another Hinger kill evened the score but the Matadors would get no closer falling 25-23.

With the score tied 10-10 in the second set, the Matadors rallied for seven straight points to open up a 16-9 cushion. Siljegovic had a pair of kills during the run while Hinger had a kill and had her hand in a pair of blocks. before Siljegovic's kill at 24-17 ended the frame in CSUN's favor.

The Matadors took advantage of their momentum from set two, scoring five of the first six points in the third frame. Leading 6-3, Northridge took advantage of a pair of Tiger hitting errors and a Haina kill to lead by as many as four at 8-4. A Sam Kaul kill kept the Matadors on top 13-8 before Pacific tallied five of the next six points to pull within 14-13. A CSUN timeout did little to stem the tide as the Tigers rolled off another five straight to open up their biggest lead at 18-14.

Down by as many as three (20-17), the Matadors rallied late to tie the score at 20-20 following a Kaul kill. The teams traded sideouts until an Allen-Hinger block gave CSUN set point at 24-23. But a Samantha Misa kill sent the set to extra points. The Matadors had six swings at the set, the last time at 33-32 before Graff's attack was stuffed and Graff hit out on the ensuing point giving Pacific the 35-33 win.

Needing a set four win, the Matadors scored the first four points only to see the Tigers do one better with a 5-0 run. CSUN eventually went down by as many as four (10-6) when Ortiz was whistled for a ball handling error. The Matadors still trailed by four at 14-10 when Pacific put together a 4-0 run to open up a comfortable 17-10 cushion. CSUN would score just one more point the rest of the way as the Tigers cruised to the 25-11 win.

Misa led Pacific with a match-high 20 kills (.236). No other Tiger hitter had more than eight kills.

Cal State Northridge continues its three-match road trip on Saturday as the Matadors travel to UC Davis to take on the Aggies at 7 p.m.