LONG BEACH, Calif. - Cal State Northridge dropped its opening match of the 2014 Active Ankle Classic Friday as 14th-ranked Penn State swept the Matadors 25-17, 25-23, 25-20 at Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid.
CSUN (6-12) was not able to match the Nittany Lions (14-4) offensively as three Penn State hitters had double figures in kills while sophomore Sam Holt led the Matadors with eight. Holt hit .300 on 20 swings while Greg Faulkner (.636) and Jakub Ciesla (.273) each added seven kills.
Northridge surrendered three aces to Penn State but was kept off balance on the passing end. The Matadors wound up hitting .250 (34-11-92) as a team but had trouble putting pressure on the Nittany Lions with their serve (0 aces, 14 errors) as Penn State wound up hitting at a .304 clip.
Set one opened with Penn State holding a slim 6-4 lead when Travis Magorien's kill cut the lead to one. But the Nittany Lions would outscore CSUN 8-1 over the next nine points to open up a 14-6 advantage. Consecutive kills from Kyle Stevenson and Ciesla followed by a Faulkner block trimmed the lead to 14-9 but the Matadors had trouble keeping it close the rest of the set falling 25-17.
The Matadors got off to a good start in set two as they opened up a 7-2 lead following kills from Faulkner and Stevenson. An ensuing 5-0 run by Penn State tied the score and the two teams then played even until 18-18 when a pair of Penn State hitting errors opened up a two-point Matador lead. The Nittany Lions quickly tied the score and the two teams again traded sideouts until 23-23 when PSU got a kill from Nick Goddell before Andrew Roberts' serve tipped the top before falling untouched on the CSUN side on set point.
The third and final set was also tight as neither team led by more than three points until the final margin. The Matadors overcame three-point deficits of 10-7 and 11-8 as the teams forged an 18-18 tie. A Peter Russell kill followed by a co-block on Damani Lenore gave the Nittany Lions a 20-18 lead. A Holt kill out of a CSUN timeout cut the lead in half but the Matadors went cold offensively in the latter stages as a trio of hitting errors propelled Penn State on a match-clinching 25-20 win.
Goddell led the Nittany Lions with 15 kills (.286), Peter Russell added 12 (.333) and Aaron Russell added 11 (.240).
Cal State Northridge concludes the two-day tournament Saturday as the Matadors meet No. 15 Ohio State at 5 p.m.
- GOMATADORS.COM -