NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Sophomore Brandon Lebrock matched his career-high with 21 kills as 11th-ranked Cal State Northridge wrapped up the eighth and final position in the MPSF Tournament with a 25-20, 17-25, 25-19, 25-21 victory over sixth-ranked Pepperdine Thursday at The Matadome.
The Matadors (12-16, 8-13 MPSF) claimed the last remaining spot in the conference tournament and return to the postseason after a one-year hiatus in 2011. Northridge will play a road match at either the MPSF's top-seeded or second-seeded team on Saturday, Apr. 21. The top-four seeds in the tournament will be determined this weekend.
Lebrock, who set a career-high with 21 kills at Stanford last Saturday, matched that total on Thursday while hitting an impressive .421 in 38 attacks. The sophomore outside hitter also added a pair of aces, five digs and two blocks. Junior John Baker came off the bench to add 10 kills (.240) and five blocks and fellow junior Jared Moore posted a career-high 10 blocks as Northridge out-blocked Pepperdine 15.0-10.0.
The Matadors wound up hitting an even .300 (52-19-110) for the match and did not hit less than .310 in either of their three set wins. Conversely, the Waves hit .304 in winning set two but did not hit higher than .241 in the other three sets.
The opening set turned out to be the tightest of the match as each team held a lead for a good stretch. Pepperdine led for the first 13 points before the Matadors eventually tied the score at 7-7. Then is was Northridge's turn to lead and the Matadors held it until the Waves evened the score at 13-13. Pepperdine then opened up a 17-15 lead before Northridge answered with a Kyle Stevenson kill and back-to-back Moore blocks to take the lead for good 18-17. A Matt Pollock kill temporarily pulled the Waves within one at 21-20 but the Matadors outscored Pepperdine 4-0 the remainder of the set.
The Waves took control of set two snapping a 9-9 tie by outscoring Northridge 9-1 over the next 10 points. The Pepperdine run was punctuated by four service aces from Maurice Torres who was forced to leave the match a short time later with an injury.
Facing a decisive third set, the Matadors came out firing hitting .364 as a team while the Waves managed just an .042 clip. With Northridge on top 11-9, the Matadors scored five unanswered to break open the frame and the Waves could only draw within three points the rest of the way.
Set four was more of the same as Northridge, which hit .481, kept Pepperdine off balance with some tough serving and Northridge led from start to finish.
"What changed for us after the second set was we started serving better," said Matador head coach Jeff Campbell. "They had some problems passing and I felt like we gained a little momentum at that point. One of the most important things in volleyball is to get the other team out of system and we were pretty successful in doing that in games three and four."
Pollock wound up leading Pepperdine with 10 kills (.529) while Torres (.312) and Josh Taylor (.045) each added eight kills.
- GO MATADORS -