Matador Comeback Comes Up Just Short as Stanford Prevails in Five Sets

STANFORD, Calif. - With a potential postseason berth on the line, 12th-ranked Cal State Northridge battled back from a two-set deficit but fifth-ranked Stanford held off the Matadors' upset bid to win 25-19, 25-21, 22-25, 22-25, 19-17 Saturday in an MPSF match at Maples Pavilion.

Northridge (11-16, 7-13 MPSF) would have clinched the eighth and final spot in the MPSF Tournament with a win but the final postseason berth will now be decided over the final week. The Matadors, who have a 1.5-game lead over UC San Diego and a two-game lead over UC Santa Barbara, will host USC and Pepperdine next week.

For the second time in as many seasons, the home-standing Cardinal held off the Matadors' upset bid in five thrilling sets. Last season, Stanford claimed the fifth set 15-11, but had to go extra points this season topping Northridge 19-17.

Brandon Lebrock and John Baker combined for 41 of the Matadors' 62 kills on Saturday as Lebrock put down a career-high 21 while hitting .320. The sophomore outside hitter added five blocks and three digs while Baker came off the bench to also eclipse his career-best with 20 kills (.457).

Julius Hoefer, who pounded 26 kills in Northridge's 3-2 win at Pacific on Friday, was limited to eight kills while hitting .148 in 27 attacks against Stanford. Travis Magorien came on for Danny Rodrick at setter and dished out 49 assists while leading the Matadors to a .281 hitting clip. Libero Charlie Condron had a team-high 15 digs giving him 27 in the two-match trip to Northern California.

Despite hitting .400, Northridge dropped set one 25-19 before hitting .108 in dropping the second set 25-21. The Matadors then out-hit the Cardinal in each of the next two sets and the match went to a decisive fifth set.

After Stanford won four the first six points in set five, the Matadors used a pair of Cardinal miscues to take their first lead at 8-7. The with the score tied at 10-10, Northridge got kills from Jared Moore and Lebrock to open up a 12-10 lead. But Stanford battled back and eventually forged a 13-13 tie following a Moore service error. Baker's kill on the ensuing point gave the Matadors their first match point but a Brad Lawson kill saved one match point and an Evan Berry kill saved the second one at 15-14.

Northridge then staved off a pair of Stanford match points at 16-15 and again at 17-16 before the Cardinal claimed the final two points of the match sealing the 19-17 win.

Cal State Northridge will host Pepperdine on Thursday, Aug. 12 and top-ranked USC on Saturday, Apr. 14 to conclude the 2012 regular season.

- GO MATADORS -