Matadors Drop Five-Set Thriller at UCLA in MPSF Opener

Final Stats (PDF)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - 11th-ranked Cal State Northridge battled to force a fifth set but came up short in dropping a 25-18, 19-25, 25-19, 18-25, 15-13 decision to fifth-ranked UCLA in the MPSF opener for both teams Tuesday night at Pauley Pavilion.

The Matadors (0-1, 0-1 MPSF) were looking to snap a seven-match skid to the Bruins and almost pulled it off after dropping two of the first three sets. After hitting .294 in falling 25-19 in the third set, CSUN bumped its hitting up to .310, its highest of the night, to take set four 25-18.

The Matadors jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the fifth and after UCLA wrestled back the lead, CSUN reclaimed it and carried an 8-7 lead into the changeover. From then on the two teams traded the lead until the Bruins took a 13-11 lead forcing the Matadors into a timeout. John Baker was whistled for a back row hitting violation on the ensuing point but a Lebrock kill and a Staker solo block saved two match points before Gonzalo Quiroga connected on match point sending the Bruins to the five-set win.

"We really went back-and-forth tonight, I'm not sure why each game was so lopsided," said Matador head coach Jeff Campbell. "When we won we were really serving well and passing well and when we lost UCLA was serving well and passing well. It came down to a couple swings and a couple blocks in game five that we didn't get."

Junior Brandon Lebrock put down a match-high 17 kills (.250) to pace the Matadors who out-hit UCLA .217-.213. Lebrock also had seven digs and three blocks while Baker also reached double figures with 15 kills (.186). Baker also matched his career-high with 12 digs in the match for his second career double-double.

Senior Drew Staker chipped in eight kills in 10 swings to hit .800 while Cory Wagner had a solid defensive match as he posted a career-high 16 digs. Setter Travis Magorien posted 42 assists and served two of the Matadors' four aces in the loss.

"We had some guys play well and we got some nice numbers from Brandon and Baker and Drew hit .800 which was a nice effort by him," said Campbell. "I thought our guys fought hard but I've got to give some credit to UCLA. We can be more consistent with our passing and serving for sure but we'll work on that in practice the next few days and be ready to go Friday night."

Robart Page had a team-high 16 kills to lead three Bruin hitters in double figures. Dane Worley and Quiroga also chipped in 13 kills as UCLA improved to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in conference.

Cal State Northridge returns to The Matadome Friday night as the Matadors host ninth-ranked UC Santa Barbara at 7 p.m.

- GO MATADORS -