NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - With the top-ranked team in the nation coming in Friday and a six-match road trip looming after that, Cal State Northridge picked a tough time for a season-long three-match losing streak.
But that's what is facing the ninth-ranked Matadors (10-9, 8-9 MPSF) as they were handed a tough five-set loss to 11th-ranked Cal Baptist Wednesday night in The Matadome. The Lancers, who had not won an MPSF road match this season, came back from two sets to one down to win, 25-23, 23-25, 22-25, 25-21, 16-14.
Senior opposite John Baker did his part, connecting for a match-high 23 kills while hitting .477 in 44 swings. Baker came within one of his career-high in kills and also added a team-high 10 digs for his second double-double of the season. Junior Brandon Lebrock added 15 kills (.207), six digs and had both of the Matadors' aces.
Jared Moore chipped in seven kills (.600) while Drew Staker, the MPSF's leading hitter, added six kills but hit just .200 in 15 attacks. Staker did post a team-high four blocks but the Matadors were dominated at the net by the Lancers 16.0-5.5.
The Matadors hit well as a team in the two sets they won, .308 in set two and .600 in set three but hit a combined .176 in the three sets they dropped.
After CSUN put together late runs to seal sets two and three, the Matadors fell behind quickly in the fourth frame and trailed by as many as five (14-9) before mounting another late run to close to within 22-20. Northridge inched closer after Staker and Travis Magorien blocked a Guilherme Koepp attack but that was the final point CSUN would score as the Lancers rolled off three straight to force a fifth set.
The Matadors then claimed three of the first four points in the fifth set before Cal Baptist rolled off three straight to take the lead for good at 4-3. Still trailing by three at 12-9, CSUN again rallied to tie the score at 14-14 after a Koepp hitting error. But Magorien's ensuing serve sailed long and Levi Cabral's attack on match point landed just inside the line.
Koepp led Cal Baptist with 22 kills (.366) while Aaron McCalmont added 21 (.633) and Cabral chipped in 13 kills but hit just .103 in 39 swings.
Cal State Northridge hosts top-ranked BYU on Friday night at 7 p.m. The Matadors will honor seniors John Baker, Jared Moore and Drew Staker prior to the match.
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