Jan. 21, 2011
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Cal State Northridge had its 2011 home opener spoiled by the visiting fifth-ranked UC Santa Barbara Gauchos as UCSB hit a Matadome record .667 on the way to a 25-22, 25-9, 25-20 victory over the Matadors in an MPSF match on Friday.
Senior Tanner Nua led the Matadors (2-5, 1-3 MPSF) with six kills (.364) in the loss. A pair of freshmen, Brandon Lebrock and Greg Faulkner along with sophomore John Baker (.071) added five kills apiece with Lebrock hitting .571 to go with two aces and Faulkner posting a .273 clip in 11 swings.
Senior Jeff Baxter, starting at setter for an injured Matt Stork, had 27 assists, two digs and assisted with Faulkner on the Matadors lone block of the match. CSUN hit .238 (28-13-63) as a team and had just 10 digs as a team.
The Gauchos (4-3, 2-2 MPSF) were virtually unstoppable on offense as they hit a Matadome record .667 as a team with 48 kills in 66 attacks with just four errors. Stanford held the previous Matadome record for hitting percentage after hitting .624 (64-9-85) against the Matadors in 1989.
"We are not a good blocking team right now," said Northridge head coach Jeff Campbell. "We've got to work on that, it's a skill that comes with time and starting three true freshmen out there with very little experience it's going to take some time."
The Matadors played well in the opening set leading by as many as four at 8-4 early on. A Baker kill put CSUN up 17-14 before the Gauchos put together a 4-0 run to take their first lead (18-17) since early in the set. UCSB then took three of the next four points to open up a 21-18 lead and the Matadors could only get within two points down the stretch.
The Gauchos used the momentum from set one and never trailed in the second set. Leading 4-2, UCSB scored four unanswered points to open up an 8-2 lead. The Gaucho lead swelled to as many as 13 at 19-6 and UCSB never looked back in taking the two set lead, 25-9. Northridge also was held to nine points in a 2010 match against USC that the Matadors came back to win in five sets.
"Once Santa Barbara had that momentum from game one they just took it to game two and we didn't respond very well at all," said Campbell. "We have a lot of new guys out there and not having Matt Stork certainly changed things and when you've got an inexperienced team lots of change is not good."
The Gauchos closed out the match in three as they overcame an early 7-4 CSUN lead. A Lebrock kill gave the Matadors an 8-5 lead before UCSB rolled off six consecutive points to open up an 11-8 lead. Lebrock's second ace of the night temporarily pulled the Matadors within one at 12-11 but the Gauchos quickly built their lead back to five at 17-12. CSUN would get no closer the rest of the way as the match ended on an Evan Licht ace.
Cullen Irons led the Gauchos with 16 kills (.714) while Jeff Menzel added 14 kills (.778) and Trey Valbuena chipped in 10 kills (.692).
Cal State Northridge continues its three-match homestand next week as the Matadors host Stanford on Jan. 28 and Pacific on Jan. 29.
- GO MATADORS -