SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Cal State Northridge began a daunting week Wednesday night as the 13th-ranked Matadors fell in straight sets at No. 7 UC Santa Barbara. Things don't get any easier for CSUN which travels to No. 2 UCLA on Friday.
Greg Faulkner, Sam Holt and Bradley Sakaida each had seven kills to lead the Matadors (3-7, 3-6 MPSF) but CSUN has now dropped four straight since defeating Pacific on Jan. 31. Sakaida had his best hitting match of the season connecting for seven kills with just one error in 13 swings to hit .462. Faulkner also hit well committing just one error in 14 swings to hit .429. Holt came off the bench to take 25 swings while also contributing a pair of blocks.
But as has been the case during the last two weeks, the Matadors struggled on the offensive end hitting just .068 (26-20-88) against the Gauchos. Over the past four matches, CSUN is hitting .155 (124-73-329) as a team.
Setter Travis Magorien notched his first double-double of the season with 21 assists and 10 digs. His digs total matched his career-high as the junior posted his second career double-double.
The Matadors got off to a good start Wednesday taking an early 5-2 lead following Faulkner's first ace of the season. A hitting error by Damani Lenore capped an 8-1 UCSB run which put the Gauchos in front 10-6. UCSB stretched its lead to as many as six (24-18) before Austin Kingi's kill ended the set.
CSUN took advantage of some early UCSB hitting errors in set two taking another early lead, this time 4-2. But again the Gauchos engineered a run, this time 7-2 to open up a 9-6 cushion. Back-to-back kills from Sakaida and Holt cut the lead to 10-9 but five unanswered Gaucho points pushed the lead back to six at 15-9 and UCSB cruised from that point on.
In the final set, the Gauchos claimed four of the first five points and never trailed. The Matadors were able to cut the lead to one at 7-6 and 8-7 but were never able to overtake UCSB. After Holt's kill kept the Matadors within one at 14-13, the Gauchos closed the match on an 11-3 run to win 25-16.
Kingi led UCSB with a match-high 12 kills (.474) while Matt Hanley added 11 kills (.364). The Gauchos wound up hitting .298 as a team in the victory.
CSUN will look to get back on track Friday night as the Matadors and No. 2 UCLA square off at Pauley Pavilion at 7 p.m.
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