Matadors Stave Off UC Davis Upset Bid to Win in Five Games
DAVIS, Calif. - Junior Val Kepler pounded a career-high 17 kills to go with 11 blocks to lead Cal State Northridge back from a two-game deficit as the Matadors held off UC Davis' upset bid with a 26-30, 25-30, 30-25, 34-32, 16-14 win on Friday at the Pavilion.
With the win, the Matadors improve to 7-12 overall and 4-3 in the Big West. The loss keeps the Aggies winless in conference play (0-7) and Davis slips to 3-15 overall.
Kepler, who's previous career-best in kills was 15 set earlier this season against Manhattan, hit .469 with just two hitting errors in 32 swings. Her 11 total blocks (one solo) also matches her career-high. The Matadors also got double figures in kills from junior Harmony Burdine (11) and Jenn Probert (10). Freshman Brittany Williams came off the bench late in the match to post three blocks, including two in the final points of the decisive fifth game. Redshirt freshman Lynda Morales contributed in nine of her team's 20 total blocks.
Sophomore Britt Erickson led UC Davis with a season-best 20 kills while fellow sophomore Carson Lowden added 13 digs, four blocks and hit .429. Freshman Kayla Varney also chipped in a double-double with 13 kills and 11 digs.
UC Davis made its move in game one behind the offense of junior Renee Ibekwe, who posted five kills in a run of seven unanswered points, bringing the Aggie edge to 23-15. Varney later posted two kills and a block to put UC Davis in a 28-22 hold over the opener. Northridge enjoyed a late rush, holding off three straight game points, but senior Katelyn Astruc finished off the victory with a game-winning kill.
The Aggies had six blocks in game one, led by Tori Hooper's solo and three assists.
In game two, Erickson came off the UC Davis bench to hit six kills on 11 swings, including three in a late Aggie outburst that pushed her team up by 26-20. Varney tooled the Matador block for kills at 28-23 and 29-24 as the Aggies won virtually wire-to-wire.
Northridge assumed control in game three, breaking away to a 19-10 lead behind Harmony Burdine's tough serving and defense. Erickson had three kills in a brief UC Davis comeback, bringing the Aggies to within four at 22-18. However, the hosts never approached closer than that margin despite two more Erickson kills down the stretch. Morales scored the game-winner on a one set, holding off the UC Davis sweep.
The Aggies led for most of game four before suffering a run of attack errors that allowed the Matadors to tie the game at 27-27. Erickson briefly restored the lead with a kill at 28-27, but Morales answered with a winner of her own to re-tie the game at 28-28. The two teams continued to trade points to a 32-32 lock, then Northridge scored back-to-back points to take the win and force Game five.
UC Davis held two-point leads in the later stages of the fifth, moving up by a 9-7 margin on a Northridge hitting error, then again to 12-10 when Turner sent a hard shot off the head of a Matador blocker. Still, the Northridge net defense came through again with the two Williams blocks down the final stretch.
Cal State Northridge wraps up its three-match road trip on Saturday as the Matadors head to Stockton to take on Pacific at 7 p.m.
Matador Memo Friday's match was played before a school-record crowd of 2,326 at the Pavilion ... Northridge has now won three straight and seven of the nine matches with UC Davis.
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