SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - No. 11 Cal State Northridge traveled up the coast to Santa Barbara looking for its first road win but instead came away with its sixth road loss, this time 25-23, 26-24, 25-23 to the 15th-ranked Gauchos Wednesday at Rob Gym.
In a tightly contested match, freshman Julius Hoefer had 11 kills (.161) and five blocks to lead the Matadors (4-8, 2-6 MPSF) in defeat. Junior Jared Moore added eight kills (.353) and four blocks and Brandon Lebrock chipped in six kills (.214) four digs and three blocks.
UCSB (4-7, 2-5 MPSF) had 42 kills as a team to Northridge's 31 and had a 31-21 edge in digs, but the Matadors out-blocked the Gauchos 11.0-5.0 while each team had four aces.
Northridge reversed a recent trend of trailing early in set one as the Matadors took an early 5-3 lead following a Gaucho service error. A Matt Stork kill kept Northridge in front 8-6 before UCSB rolled off four straight points to take a 10-8 lead. The Matadors kept things close until 12-12 when the Gauchos began to pull away. Trailing 22-18, Northridge engineered a 4-1 run to get within 23-22 before UCSB claimed two of the final three points to take the set 25-23.
Set two was tight early on before the Gauchos went on an 8-2 run to open up what looked to be an insurmountable 18-12 lead. A pair of Hoefer kills combined with a trio of UCSB miscues helped the Matadors get within 19-17 and Northridge eventually pulled even at 20-20 following a Drew Staker ace. With the score tied at 23, Moore's kill gave the Matadors set point but Miles Evans responded with three straight kills to give UCSB the come-from-behind win.
In the final frame, the two teams battled through 17 ties with final one coming at 23-23 following a Moore kill. But again it was Evans who put the Gauchos on the verge of the match and UCSB cashed in on the ensuing play to sweep the Matadors with the 25-23 set three win.
For the Gauchos, Evans put down a match-high 16 kills while hitting .235 while Kevin Donohue added 11 kills (.148).
Cal State Northridge is off until next Wednesday, Feb. 22 when the Matadors travel to No. 2 UC Irvine at 7 p.m.
- GO MATADORS -