January 24, 2014

Matadors Bounce Back to Post Sweep Over No. 4 USC

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Erasing the taste of a disappointing five-set loss to top-ranked Pepperdine two nights ago, Cal State Northridge came out with a dominating effort Friday sweeping the No. 4 USC Trojans 25-19, 25-21, 25-21 in an MPSF match at The Matadome. 

The Matadors (2-3, 2-2 MPSF) snap a mini two-match skid as redshirt freshman Damani Lenore pounded a match-high 13 kills in the victory.

In his first significant playing time of the young season, Lenore has 41 kills in CSUN's last seven sets which averges out to 5.86 kills per set. The opposite nailed a career-high 28 kills against the Waves on Wednesday.

The visiting Trojans (4-2, 3-2), who were unbeaten in two road matches coming in, had trouble getting untracked offensively hitting .018 through the first two sets. USC wound up out-hitting the Matadors .292-.222 in the final set but CSUN had built enough of a lead to hold off a late run.

In addition to Lenore, who hit .345 on 29 swings, sophomore Sam Holt and redshirt freshman Bradley Sakaida each added five kills with Holt taking 21 swings and Sakaida 14. Junior middle Grag Faulkner chipped in four kills while hitting .300.

One of the subplots of the match was the Matador serving as CSUN, behind a career-high four aces from junior setter Travis Magorien, out-aced the Trojans 9-0. Six different Matador servers posted at least one ace. CSUN, which was out-blocked by Pepperdine 21.5-9.5 on Wednesday, doubled up USC at the net as the Matadors had 12.5 team blocks to 6.0. Faulkner and Vaughn Wellenreiter each had six stuffs with Wellenreiter racking up a career-high three solo blocks.

CSUN jumped out to an early five-point lead in the opening set as Wellenreiter's kill put the Matadors up 10-5. Six points later, Lenore and Faulkner teamed up to stuff the Trojans' Alex Slaught and CSUN had its largest lead of the set at 14-7. A late 4-0 USC run cut the CSUN lead from 22-14 to 22-18 but a pair of Lenore kills and a Faulkner kill sent the Matadors to the 25-19 win.

The Trojans held brief 4-3 and 5-4 leads in the second set before CSUN engineered a 9-4 run to take a four-point lead at 13-9. A triple block from Brian O'Gorman, Lenore and Faulkner gave the Matadors a 20-15 advantage and CSUN had a safe lead the rest of the way.

Set three could have gone either way as two points would separate the two teams for much of the set. A Magorien service error kept the Trojans within 19-17 when Lenore and Hole put down consecutive kills opening up a 21-17 Matador lead. But USC battled back to within two (22-20) on a Tanner Jansen kill but Wellenreiter's solo block followed by a Trojan hitting error gave CSUN its first match point. After Lenore's attack was stuffed at the net, the Trojans' Micah Christenson's serve sailed long and the Matadors had the upset win.

Jansen wound up leading the Trojans with seven kills (.417) while both Andy Benesh and Maddison McKibbin tallied five kills apiece.

Cal State Northridge hits the road for its next two matches as the Matadors travel to Northern California to take on Pacific (Jan. 31) and Stanford (Feb. 1).

- GOMATADORS.COM -