Baker Paces Matadors in Straight-Set Sweep Over UC San Diego

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Senior John Baker connected for a match-high 15 kills to lead seventh-ranked Cal State Northridge to a straight set (25-20, 25-16, 25-21) victory over the visiting UC San Diego Tritons Friday in a MPSF match at The Matadome.

Baker, who has always hit well against the Tritons, hit .500 in 28 attacks committing just three hitting errors. The senior from Racine, Wis., also added three digs and one block. In two matches between the two teams this season, Baker has 31 kills while hitting .439 in 57 swings.

CSUN, which improved to 10-6 overall and 8-6 in the MPSF, also got seven kills (.667) from senior Drew Staker, five kills apiece from Jared Moore (.375) and Brandon Lebrock while Kyle Stevenson had the other three Matador kills. Setter Travis Magorien had 31 assists, two of CSUN's five aces, four digs and three blocks while leading the Matadors to a .301 team hitting clip.

"We passed well and we served tougher as the match went on," said Matador head coach Jeff Campbell. "Our serving caused them some problems but (John) Baker hitting .500 was a key for us. Anytime you get a win in this league, especially against San Diego, we're happy with that." 

In winning its seventh home match in 10 tries, Northridge bolted out to significant early leads in each of the first two sets. In the opener, CSUN claimed six of the first eight points before the Tritons battled back to within one at 8-7. Three Baker kills and a UCSD service error boosted the Matador lead back to four at 12-8 before the Tritons again pulled within one at 15-14. But back-to-back UCSD miscues gave the Matadors a three-point cushion and UCSD would only get within two the rest of the set.

The second set opened with the Matadors taking a 9-4 lead following a Baker kill and a Triton hitting error. The CSUN lead swelled to as many as seven (14-7) before aces from Moore and Magorien, along with Baker's kill, put the Matadors up by nine at 22-13. Leading 24-16, Baker's kill on set point put CSUN up two sets.

The score was tied just one time in the final frame, early at 3-3, before the Matadors tallied three straight to open up a 6-3 lead. Another Triton hitting error boosted the CSUN lead to 12-6 and the Matadors held on despite UCSD pulling within 15-13 at the midpoint. Still holding a two-point lead at 18-16, Northridge rolled off four straight points for a 22-16 advantage.

UC San Diego (6-15, 3-13 MPSF) was led by Nick Iorfino's 11 kills (.208) while Cheyne Hayes chipped in five kills (.000).

Cal State Northridge goes back on the road for a match next week as the Matadors travel to UC Santa Barbara next Wednesay (Mar. 13) before returning home for a Friday home contest against UCLA.


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