MALIBU, Calif. - Cal State Northridge's bid to secure a spot in the posteason will have to wait for another night as fifth-ranked Pepperdine came back from two sets to one down to defeat the 10th-ranked Matadors in five sets (22-25, 25-23, 17-25, 25-18, 15-11) Thursday night at Firestone Fieldhouse.
Despite a career-high 27 kills from junior Brandon Lebrock, CSUN (11-12, 9-12 MPSF) could not nail down its fifth road win and remained on hold for the postseason. Lebrock wound up hitting a solid .373 as he also took a career-high 51 swings. Lebrock and senior John Baker, who added 14 kills, took 89 of the Matadors' 120 attacks in the match.
Northridge took set one 25-22 after hitting .440 then dropped set two despite hitting a match-high .444. The Matadors then out-hit the Waves .320-.091 to dominate set three 25-17. But from that point on it was all Pepperdine as the Waves hit .310 to CSUN's .080 in the fourth set and out-hit the Matadors .500-.167 in the deciding frame.
"Our passing broke down in games four and five," said Northridge head coach Jeff Campbell. "It wasn't terrible but it was just enough to cause problems for our offense. We also served fairly easy in games four and five so any advantage we had from the service line was gone. I thought Brandon played great tonight, he was definitely the MVP of the match."
Despite the struggles in the fourth set, the Matadors still had a chance after falling behind 3-1 in the fifth. CSUN pulled within one at 3-2, 4-3, 5-4, 6-5, 7-6, 8-7 and 10-9 but would never tie the score. After Baker and Drew Staker put up a block pulling the Matadors within 10-9, Pepperdine called timeout and then got kills from Maurice Torres and Beau Vandeweghe to boost its lead back to three (12-9). Only a pair of Wave miscues got CSUN within two the rest of the way and Josh Taylor ended the match with a kill.
For Pepperdine (13-9, 12-9 MPSF), Torres also posted a career-high as he struck for 28 kills while hitting .500 in 44 attacks. Taylor added 19 kills (.382) with six coming in the fifth and final set.
Still needing just one win to clinch a spot in the MPSF Tournament, Cal State Northridge travels to USC on Saturday. The Matadors won the first meeting between the two teams (3-1) in Northridge on Feb. 6. First serve at Galen Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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