Matadors Drop Home Opener to UC Irvine in Four Games

Matadors Drop Home Opener to UC Irvine in Four Games

Box Score

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Freshman Brittany Williams tallied a career-high 16 kills to go with five blocks and junior Val Kepler added nine kills but Cal State Northridge dropped its home opener to visiting UC Irvine 20-30, 26-30, 30-26, 27-30 Friday in The Matadome.

With the win, the Anteaters improve to 12-4 overall and 2-0 in the Big West. The loss drops the Matadors to 4-11 overall and 1-2 in conference play.

Williams, a true freshman from Chino Hills, eclipsed her previous season-high in kills (14) with 16 (.333) on Friday against the Anteaters. She also had a career-best 5.0 blocks with two solo stuffs. Williams accounted for 19.5 of Northridge's 72.5 points in the match. Kepler also hit well as she pounded nine kills while hitting .304 alomg with 5.0 blocks of her own. Redshirt freshman Lynda Morales posted six kills (.211) and 7.0 blocks and Jenn Probert came off the bench to record four kills and 5.0 blocks. After not recording a single block in the first game, the Matadors had 14.5 team blocks over the final three games.

For UC Irvine, Kari Pestolesi led three Anteater hitters in double figures with a match-high 19 kills (.231). Lauren Kellerman added 18 (.217) and Kristin Kelley chipped in 11 (.364). UCI racked up 11 aces in the match as Pestolesi and Taryn Robertson each had three.

The Northridge attack was up and down all night as the Matadors hit .370 in game one but followed up with a .188 hitting clip in game two. Northridge bounced back to hit .250 in game three but sunk to .105 in game four.

In game one, UCI broke open a tight 16-14 game with a 6-2 run to open up a 22-16 advantage. The Anteater lead grew to eight at 25-17 after an Alex Johnson hitting error and the Anteaters cruised home 30-20.

With the Matadors trailing 23-19 in game two, Northridge scored three consecutive points, highlighted by two Kepler-Kayla Wright blocks, to pull within one at 23-22. But UC Irvine took six of the next eight points to pull away to stay 29-24 before a Kellerman kill closed the game 30-26.

Game three was tied seven times, the last at 26-26, before the Matadors got a kill from Williams and a hitting error from Shannan Homan to take a 28-26 lead forcing a UCI timeout. Following the timeout, Northridge got back-to-back kills from Probert and Morales to claim game three 30-26.

In what turned out to be the decisive game four, the Anteaters jumped out to a 20-13 lead following Kellerman's solo block on Kepler. The Matadors would not go away and engineered a 5-0 run to close within 20-18 on a Morales put away. But despite closing to within one on four occasions down the stretch (the last at 28-27), Northridge could never take the lead and an attack error by Williams followed by a Kellerman kill ended the match 30-27.

Cal State Northridge returns to action on Saturday night as the Matadors host UC Riverside at 7 p.m. in The Matadome.