HONOLULU, Hawai'i - Looking for its first win in Hawai'i in 10 years, Cal State Northridge turned to John Baker and Brandon Lebrock and the duo carried the eighth-ranked Matadors to a 25-21, 17-25, 26-24, 25-23 victory over the No. 11 Warriors Friday at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Baker struck for a match-high 19 kills while hitting a blistering .484 in 31 swings while Lebrock added 17 kills, hitting .265 in 34 attacks. Redshirt freshman Sam Holt came off the bench to add four kills in only nine swings.
The Matadors (8-6, 6-6 MPSF), who had not won a match in Honolulu since the 2003 season, picked up a crucial road win, just their second in five matches this season.
CSUN wound up hitting .312 as a team, behind 39 assists from Travis Magorien, but the usually reliable middle duo of Jared Moore and Drew Staker combined for just four kills. Staker hit .333 but Moore, who came in hitting 454, hit .000 in seven attacks. Thus the Matadors turned to Baker and Lebrock who combined for 65 of the teams' 93 total attacks. Lebrock also set a season-high with three aces, all coming during a single stretch of the opening set.
CSUN took a pair of three-point leads late in the first set, leading 19-16 following a Staker ace and again at 21-18. The Warriors answered following a timeout to cut the lead to 21-19 but Hawai'i would get no closer as the Matadors claimed three of the next for points to serve for the set at 24-20. Moore's ensuing serve went long but the Warriors returned the favor and CSUN had the 25-21 win.
The Matadors trailed 12-11 in set two after Staker put up a solo block on Hawai'i's Brook Sedore. The play however spurred on a five-point Warrior run that opened up a 17-11 cushion for Hawai'i. The lead grew to as many as nine (22-13) and CSUN would only get within six the rest of the way.
The Matadors had won the opening set in each of their last three matches before dropping the final three sets in two of those contests. Hawai'i looked primed to force CSUN to comeback again as the Warriors held set point at 24-23 late in the third set. Baker's kill saved one set point before a Warrior hitting error gave CSUN set point at 25-24. The Matadors wasted no time cashing in as Moore and Holt put up a block on Sedore and CSUN went into the final set up 2-1.
CSUN bolted out to a 6-0 lead in the fourth set and looked poised to cruise home. But Hawai'i would not go quietly as the Warriors chipped away at the Matador lead and eventually took a 16-15 lead when Baker's attack went wide. Baker was then stuffed out of a CSUN timeout and Hawai'i had a 17-15 lead. But a Lebrock kill and a Warrior hitting error evened the score at 17-17 and the teams then traded points until 23-23 when consecutive kills from Baker sealed the Matador victory.
Sedore led Hawai'i (5-11, 4-9 MPSF) with 17 kills (.387) while Sinisa Zarkovic added 13 (.143).
The two teams complete the two-match series Sunday as first serve from the Stan Sheriff Center is scheduled for 5 p.m. HT.
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