January 6, 2012

Matadors Fall in Four at 14th-Ranked UC Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Cal State Northridge sufferered a pair of four-set losses on the opening day of the UCSB Asics Invitational which was capped by the Matadors' 20-25, 25-17, 25-20, 26-24 loss to 14th-ranked UC Santa Barbara Friday night at Rob Gym.

Northridge (0-2), which fell to third-ranked UCLA earlier in the day, got a team-high 17 kills from senior Matt Stork and 13 kills from Julius Höefer against UCSB. After hitting .188 against UCLA in the morning session, the Matadors hit slightly better (.194) against the Gauchos. However UCSB hit .287 and also had three aces to CSUN's one.

True freshman Travis Magorien made his collegiate debut and dished out 37 assists to go with five digs, three blocks and a pair of kills. Höefer also had a team-high six digs and four blocks (two solo).

"I thought the competition today was very good and it was good for us to be in those situations for us to get better," said head coach Jeff Campbell. "We still have some things to work out but it's our first two matches of the season, we've got a long way to go."

The Matadors trailed the Gauchos for the first nine points of the opening set before tying things up at 5-5 on a Magorien-Jared Moore block. Northridge would even the score seven more times before finally taking its first lead (16-15) on a UCSB hitting error. The Matadors built the lead to as many as three at 20-17 on the strength of a three-point run highlighted by a Höefer block and a Staker ace. A Moore kill gave Northridge set point at 24-20 and the Matadors cashed on a Höefer block.

Looking to take a two set lead, Northridge opened up an early 6-2 lead only to watch as UCSB cut the lead to 6-4 and following a Stork kill, the Gauchos rolled off seven straight points to erase CSUN's 7-4 lead and open up an 11-7 cushion of their own. The Matadors then fell into an 18-12 hole before climbing back to within 20-16 following a Stork kill and a Gaucho hitting error. But CSUN would only score once more in the frame and fell 25-17.

Looking motivated after the set two loss, the Matadors rolled off the first seven points of set three and still led by as many as five before back-to-back CSUN hitting errors pulled the Gauchos within 12-9. But after a Stork kill kept the Matadors on top 13-9, a 6-0 UCSB run again erased the CSUN lead and put the Gauchos in front to stay 15-13. After a UCSB service error pulled the Matadors with 15-14, another devastating run, this time 5-0 all but sealed the set for the Gauchos.

Needing to win the fourth set to extend the match, the Matadors led by two points late 23-21 before the Gauchos came back to win in extra points 26-24.

Against UCLA, the Matadors looked good early on as they overcame a 10-7 UCLA lead to take their first lead at 14-13 following a Höefer ace. A co-block from Tomicic and Jared Moore on the ensuing point gave Northridge a two-point cushion at 15-13. The Bruins answered quickly following a timeout taking three of the next four points to knot the score at 16-16. A Stork kill gave the Matadors their final lead at 17-16 before the roof caved in. A Weston Dunlap kill propelled the Bruins on an set-deciding 8-0 run (three points coming on Matador hitting errors), that put UCLA comfortably in front.

The Bruins then claimed five of the first six points of set two only to watch as Northridge rolled off five straight to take a 6-5 lead following a Höefer solo stuff. The Matadors continued to build on their lead and ultimately opened up a five-point cushion (17-12) when Höefer and Staker teamed up to stuff a Bruin attack. But back came UCLA as the Bruins engineered an 8-3 run to tie the score at 20-20. Another Höefer kill gave the Matadors a short-lived 21-20 lead before UCLA outscored CSUN 5-2 down the stretch to take a two-set lead.

The Matadors put together their best hitting effort of the match in pulling out the third set 26-24. Much like set two, CSUN fell behind early 6-2 before taking its first lead at 9-8. The lead then traded hands until 15-15 when a Bruin service error followed by successive Drew Staker aces gave the Matadors an 18-15 advantage. Despite UCLA coming back to even the score at 23-23, Höefer's kill gave Northridge its first set point of the match. A Bruin kill saved one set point before a UCLA service error and a solo block from Höefer gave the Matadors the 26-24 victory.

The final set was all UCLA as the Bruins opened up a 9-5 lead and never looked back. After the Matadors trimmed the lead to 9-7, UCLA claimed 10 of the next 14 points to take an insurmountable 20-11 lead.

As a result of Friday's matches, Cal State Northridge will wrap up the UCSB Asics Invitational Saturday as the Matadors take on Loyola-Chicago at 11 a.m. in Rob Gym.

- GO MATADORS -

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