Matadors Defeat Cal State Fullerton in Marathon Five-Game Match
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - In a match that lasted nearly three hours, the freshmen duo of Brittany Williams and Alex Johnson combined for 44 kills as Cal State Northridge defeated Cal State Fullerton 26-30, 30-24, 34-36, 30-25, 20-18 on Tuesday at The Matadome.
With the win, the Matadors win their second straight and improve to 6-11 overall and 3-2 in the Big West. The loss drops the Titans to 7-7 overall and 2-1 in conference play.
Williams, who established a career-highs in kills with 16 last weekend against both UC Irvine and UC Riverside, shattered that total with 24 kills in 70 swings against Fullerton. The freshman from Chino Hills also added five blocks. Johnson also had a solid match as she pounded 20 kills (hitting .306) to go with 17 digs. The double-double is the second of Johnson's young career.
Junior Jenn Probert and redshirt freshman Lynda Morales both tallied double figures in kills off the bench. Morales had 13 (.250) while Probert put down a season-high 12. Setter Kayla Wright recorded a career-high 63 assists to go with 18 digs for her second double-double in the past two matches. Matador libero Amy Hultner notched a career-high 31 digs in the win.
For the Titans, Jennifer Francisco posted a match-high 28 kills while hitting .324 to go with 14 digs and four blocks. Deven Bukoski (17 kills, .154) and Erin Saddler (12 kills, .258) also reached double figures in the kills column and Bukoski also added 17 digs. Fullerton libero Cami Croteau recorded 27 digs in the loss.
After Northridge led early in game one, the Titans took back the lead at 4-3 and never looked back. The Fullerton lead grew to as many as seven at 21-14 following an Alex Wolnisty-Bukoski block on Morales. The Matadors pulled within one on four occasions in the latter stages of the game but the Titans held on 30-26.
Game two saw the Matadors comeback after the Titans took the early lead. With Fullerton leading 10-9, Northridge reeled off a 5-2 run to take a 14-11 lead after a Williams kill. Fullerton briefly took back the lead at 18-17 on a Francisco kill before the Matadors built the lead back to three (22-19) forcing a Fullerton timeout. Northridge eventually went on top 28-23 on a Val Kepler kill and the Matadors knotted things at 1-1 with the 30-24 win.
Game three looked to be a back-breaker for Northridge as the lead changed hands twice while the game was tied eight times. The Matadors battled back from a 26-21 deficit to take a 29-27 lead on a Wolnisty hitting error. Northridge had six chances to close out the game but the Titans answered each time. Then with the score tied 34-34, Fullerton took advantage of a Julie Geissert-Wolnisty block and a Francisco kill to take the momentum and a 2-1 lead.
Northridge answered back with a 30-25 win in game four to force the decisive game five. the Matadors trailed 22-21 before scoring four straight points to take the lead for good at 25-22. The Titans then scored back-to-back points to pull within one but Northridge scored five of the next six points to take the game 30-25.
After each team held mini leads in the early going in game five, the Titans seemed to take control with the score tied 10-10. A kill from Francisco, a Bukoski ace and a block by Geissert and Wolnisty gave the Titans a comfortable 13-10 lead. The Matadors battled back to within 13-12 after kills from Probert and Johnson, but Francisco answered again giving the Titans match point.
Northridge held off three match points and eventually took a 16-15 lead on back-to-back kills from Kepler and Williams. Fullerton answered back with a Francisco kill and a Saddler solo block to take a 17-16 advantage. Williams answered back knotting the score at 17-17 before she was blocked by Saddler and Sarah Day giving the Titans another match point. Probert's kill saved one match point and Harmony Burdine then served back-to-backl aces giving the Matadors the improbable 3-2 match win.
Cal State Northridge heads back out on the road for its next three matches beginning Saturday at Long Beach State. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m.
- GO MATADORS -