Jan. 7, 2011
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Playing with virtually an entirely new starting lineup, 12th-ranked Cal State Northridge struggled in its season-opener falling to 10th-ranked UC Santa Barbara, 25-16, 25-21, 25-17 at the Gaucho Invitational Friday morning at Rob Gym.
Playing with only two returning starters the Matadors (0-1) had their nine-match win streak over UC Santa Barbara snapped in the process.
Redshirt freshman Marty Lorenz led Northridge with eight kills while hitting .583. True freshman Brandon Lebrock added seven kills but hit just .059. Sophomore Drew Staker and senior Tanner Nua each added five kills and a pair of blocks. Nua also served two of the Matadors' four aces.
CSUN was out-hit .526 (39-9-57) to .114 (27-19-70) as a team and had just six team digs and nine team blocks.
A Drew Staker kill on the first play of the match gave the Matadors their only lead of the opening set. CSUN quickly fell behind 6-2 following a Jeff Menzel kill. A Trey Valbuena kill also gave UCSB a four-point lead at 12-8 forcing the Matadors to use their second timeout. The Gauchos kept the pressure on Northridge building their lead to six (15-9) and eventually nine at 22-13. Three straight Matador points on a UCSB service error, a Lorenz ace and a Gaucho hitting error pulled CSUN within six at 22-16 but the Matadors would get no closer.
After going down 6-3 in set two, back-to-back Nua aces pulled Northridge even at 6-6. The Matadors would hold the lead until a Nua hitting error put the Gauchos back in front 16-15. A UCSB service error and a Lebrock kill gave the Matadors a 17-16 lead in what would turn out to be CSUN's last lead of the frame. The Matadors evened the score twice more, the last coming at 18-18 on a Gaucho service error. With the Gauchos leading 20-19, a Lebrock hitting error and a Valbuena ace gave UCSB the cushion it needed as the Gauchos pulled away late for the 25-21 win. CSUN had just two blocks and was hitting .122 through two sets.
The Matadors dug themselves a big hole in set three falling behind 9-3 after Nua's attack found the net. CSUN still trailed by six at 13-7 before the Matadors battled back to within three (13-10) following a UCSB hitting error, a co-block from Staker, Lebrock and Jared Moore and a Lebrock kill. Another co-block by Moore and Lorenz got the Matadors as close at they would get at 16-14 before an ensuing four-point Gaucho run erased all doubt.
"Santa Barbara played really well," said head coach Jeff Campbell. "Their senior players performed well and they looked like they were ready to go. Our team was a little inexperienced and we made young mistakes. We've got to figure out a way to get some experience and clean up those mistakes in order to really compete."
Menzel and Cullen Irons led UCSB (1-0) with 12 klls apiece.
Cal State Northridge will meet UC San Diego (0-1) in its second match of the Gaucho Invitational Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in the Thunderdome.
- GO MATADORS -