STOCKTON, Calif. - A marathon 35-33 third set proved to be the difference as Cal State Northridge dropped a 25-23, 17-25, 35-33, 25-11 decision to the host Pacific Tigers in Big West action Friday night at the Spanos Center.
The Matadors (8-8, 2-2 Big West), who were looking to take control of the match after a 25-17 win in set two, had six swings at the third set but could not find the winning kill and the Tigers (11-7, 2-3 Big West) took advantage of a pair of late CSUN miscues to wrestle control of the match with the 35-33 win.
Sophomore Natalie Allen led the Matadors with 13 kills (.323) while freshman Casey Hinger added 12 kills but was limited to a .132 hitting clip after hitting .379 in her last two matches. Hinger also added a team-high seven blocks. Sam Kaul (.375) and Mahina Haina (.121) each chipped in nine kills for CSUN which wound up hitting .137 in the match.
In the opening set, CSUN nearly overcame a 17-12 Pacific lead. A four-point Matador run pulled Northridge within 17-16 and the Matadors then drew even at 19-19 following an Allen ace. Another Allen ace followed by a Hinger-Britney Graff co-block gave the Matadors their first lead at 21-19. The lead was short-lived however as Pacific got three straight kills (two from Rebekah Torres) to take back the lead for good at 22-21. Another Hinger kill evened the score but the Matadors would get no closer falling 25-23.
With the score tied 10-10 in the second set, the Matadors rallied for seven straight points to open up a 16-9 cushion. Siljegovic had a pair of kills during the run while Hinger had a kill and had her hand in a pair of blocks. before Siljegovic's kill at 24-17 ended the frame in CSUN's favor.
The Matadors took advantage of their momentum from set two, scoring five of the first six points in the third frame. Leading 6-3, Northridge took advantage of a pair of Tiger hitting errors and a Haina kill to lead by as many as four at 8-4. A Sam Kaul kill kept the Matadors on top 13-8 before Pacific tallied five of the next six points to pull within 14-13. A CSUN timeout did little to stem the tide as the Tigers rolled off another five straight to open up their biggest lead at 18-14.
Down by as many as three (20-17), the Matadors rallied late to tie the score at 20-20 following a Kaul kill. The teams traded sideouts until an Allen-Hinger block gave CSUN set point at 24-23. But a Samantha Misa kill sent the set to extra points. The Matadors had six swings at the set, the last time at 33-32 before Graff's attack was stuffed and Graff hit out on the ensuing point giving Pacific the 35-33 win.
Needing a set four win, the Matadors scored the first four points only to see the Tigers do one better with a 5-0 run. CSUN eventually went down by as many as four (10-6) when Ortiz was whistled for a ball handling error. The Matadors still trailed by four at 14-10 when Pacific put together a 4-0 run to open up a comfortable 17-10 cushion. CSUN would score just one more point the rest of the way as the Tigers cruised to the 25-11 win.
Misa led Pacific with a match-high 20 kills (.236). No other Tiger hitter had more than eight kills.
Cal State Northridge continues its three-match road trip on Saturday as the Matadors travel to UC Davis to take on the Aggies at 7 p.m.
- GO MATADORS -