Matadors Hang Tough Before Falling in Four at No. 8 UC Irvine

IRVINE, Calif. - Greg Faulkner had a team-high 11 kills but Cal State Northridge dropped a four-set decision at No. 8 UC Irvine Wednesday at the Bren Center.

The Matadors (7-15, 6-13 MPSF) dropped the opening set 25-18 but bounced back to take the second frame 25-21. The Anteaters however were undeterred as they responded to take the third and fourth sets by 25-22 and 25-18 scores.

Faulkner led CSUN with 11 kills on .429 hitting as the junior took 21 swings. Fellow junior Kyle Stevenson added seven kills (.217) while Bradley Sakaida chipped in five kills and nine digs splitting time between libero and outside hitter.

The Matadors' kill leader Sam Holt had an off night with just two kills on nine attacks in limited court time. CSUN head coach Jeff Campbell made some adjustments with his lineup in set two to address some passing difficulties.

"I thought our passing was a little inconsistent tonight," said Campbell. "To have the amount of kills (36) we had was pretty poor and some of that had to do with our passing. The passing got better in set two and once the passing is there we've got to make sure the sets are there. We played hard again, the effort was there unfortunately for us it boils down to a lack of experience."

CSUN setter Travis Magorien had a solid all-around match with 32 assists and eight digs and also served his first ace since Feb. 28 against Pacific.

It was Magorien's lone ace that set the Matadors up with set point at 24-21 of set two that Faulkner ultimately cashed in on the next serve. The set win snapped a seven-set winless streak for CSUN.

A pair of UC Irvine hitters reached double figures in kills as Zack La Cavera had a match-high 19 (.293) and Jeremy Dejno added 14 while hitting .480. The Anteaters improve to 15-9 overall and 12-8 in the MPSF.

Cal State Northridge concludes a season-long, six-match road trip Saturday as the Matadors travel to La Jolla to take on UC San Diego at 7 p.m.