NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - For the second time this season Cal State Northridge and UCLA went five sets and for the second time the Bruins came out on top. On Friday, UCLA came back from a 2-1 deficit to win the final two sets and hand the Matadors a 20-25, 25-19, 22-25, 25-13, 15-10 loss in a key MPSF match in The Matadome.
Despite being out-hit through three sets, the Matadors (10-8, 8-8 MPSF) held a two sets to one lead heading to the fourth frame. CSUN, however, was not able to build on the momentum of set three and hit a dismal -.100 in dropping set four (25-13) and then played from behind for much of the fifth set before falling 15-10.
The Matadors dropped their season-opener at Pauley Pavilion, nearly overcoming a 2-1 UCLA lead, winning set four but dropping the fifth set 15-13.
On Friday, senior John Baker led the Matadors with 15 kills, hitting .250 in 36 attacks to go with six digs. Brandon Lebrock added 11 kills (.194) and also had six digs while Drew Staker chipped in a season-high 10 kills (.600) to go with three blocks and three digs.
Northridge led by an many as eight points in set one before ultimately pulling out a 25-20 win. The Matadors hit .294 in set one but benefitted by UCLA hitting -.059. The Bruins had just four kills as a team in the opening set.
From that point on however, UCLA hit a blistering .535 over the final four sets including .786 in the fifth and deciding frame. The Matadors hit a team-best .577, committing just one error, in set three's 25-22 win but could not keep up with the Bruin hitters over sets four and five.
Gonzalo Quiroga led UCLA with a match-high 22 kills (.576) while Dane Worley added 12 (.409) and Robart Page chipped in 10 (.261) despite not playing the final two sets. Bruin libero Evan Mottram had a match-high 14 digs while Page recorded 10. UCLA wound up with a 42-32 edge in digs while out-hitting CSUN .448-.280.
Cal State Northridge plays its final two home matches next week as the Matadors welcome Cal Baptist on Wednesday (Mar. 20) and BYU on Friday (Mar. 22).
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