MALIBU, Calif. - After falling to Pepperdine in a tough five-setter on its home court in January, Cal State Northridge looked to get even with the fourth-ranked Waves Saturday but came out on the short end of a 25-17, 25-20, 25-20 decision at Firestone Fieldhouse.
Sophomore Sam Holt again paced the Matadors (7-14, 6-12 MPSF) matching Pepperdine's Josh Taylor for match-high honors with 11 kills. Holt hit .321 on a match-high 28 attacks while serving one of three CSUN aces. Damani Lenore came off the bench to add eight kills (.267) his highest total since putting down 12 at UCLA on Feb. 14.
The Matadors hitting percentage leader Greg Faulkner was limited to six kills while hitting .182 on 11 swings while CSUN wound up hitting .173 (32-18-81) as a team.
As has been the case this season, the Matadors played on even terms for much of the set but were prone to giving up substantial runs from which they could not recover.
In the opening set, CSUN trailed by just three at 8-5 before surrendering a 7-2 run which made the deficit 15-7. Still trailing by eight (16-8), the Matadors engineered a 5-1 run to get within 17-13. Another Pepperdine hitting error pulled CSUN within three at 19-16 but the Matadors couldn't make up the final margin, falling 25-17.
With the score knotted at 3-3 in set two, it was an ensuing 10-1 Wave run that made the difference. From that point on, the Matadors outscored Pepperdine 16-12 but the nine-point deficit proved too much in the 25-20 loss.
Consecutive CSUN hitting errors to open the final frame set the tone as the Waves bolted out to a 9-1 lead and never looked back. In falling by the identical 25-20 score, the Matadors would outscore Pepperdine 19-14 over the final 33 points but again had too much ground to make up and dropped the match in straight sets.
Taylor had 11 kills (.115) and Kyle Gerrans added nine (.400) to lead the Waves who wound up hitting .282 (36-14-78) in the win.
Cal State Northridge wraps up its six-match road trip next week as the Matadors travel to UC Irvine (Mar. 26) and UC San Diego (Mar. 29).
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