February 11, 2011

Matadors Pull Off Improbable Five-Set Win Over No. 2 Long Beach State

Feb. 11, 2011

Final Stats

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Drew Staker and Greg Faulkner each had a team-high 10 kills as Cal State Northridge came back from two sets down to pull off an improbable five-set win (11-25, 16-25, 25-21, 25-22, 16-14) over second-ranked Long Beach State in an MPSF match Friday at The Matadome.

The Matadors (3-9, 2-5 MPSF) earn their first home win of the 2011 season and snap a six-match losing streak in the process. The 49ers (6-4, 5-2 MPSF) looked to have the match firmly in hand after dominating the first two sets. Long Beach had the better of the match stats as well as the 49ers out-hit CSUN .299 (52-20-107) to .178 (52-31-118) and had 19.5 team blocks to 8.5 for the Matadors. Long Beach also had a 30-27 advantage in digs (30-27) and served three aces to two for CSUN making the Matadors' five-set win all the more improbable.

Staker, who hit .833, did not have a hitting error in 12 swings and also added a pair of blocks and three digs. Faulkner hit .353 in 17 attacks and added five blocks (two solo) and one ace. John Baker and Dillon Auxier came off the bench to each put down eight kills with Baker hitting .357 to go with four digs and two blocks.

Matt Stork dished out 47 assists and rounded out a solid all-around match with two kills, one ace, seven digs and three blocks.

The 49ers dominated the first two sets cruising to a 25-11 win the opening set before taking set two 25-16. The Matadors never threatened in either frame as Long Beach hit .789 in set one and out-hit CSUN .222 to -.034 in set two.

Campbell then turned to his bench and inserted Baker and Auxier who in turn provided a spark as the Matadors took the third set 25-21. The third set win snapped a string a 17 consecutive set losses for Northridge and the match moved to a fourth set.

In the tightest frame of the match, the 49ers took an early 2-0 lead following a Jim Baughman-Ryan Meehan block and a Brandon Lebrock hitting error. The Matadors took their first lead at 5-4 after setter Mike Klipsch's set went over the net and wide. The two teams then played even until Baughman's service error knotted the score at 20-20, the 19th tie of the set. Following a Kyle Friend hitting error, Baker's kill gave CSUN a 22-20 cushion. The Matadors also led by two at 23-21 when Lebrock's attack was stuffed by Klipsch and Antwain Aguillard. But Stork's setter dump and an ace from Faulkner on set point sent the match to a fifth and deciding set.

Friend's kill on the opening point of set five was Long Beach's only lead of the frame as Northridge quickly answered with a Staker kill. Baughman's ensuing hitting error propelled the Matadors on a 4-1 run that gave the Matadors their biggest lead at 5-2. The 49ers would close to within one five times, the last at 9-8 but CSUN answered each time. With the Matadors on top 11-8, Long Beach put together a 4-1 run to tie the score at 12-12 after Baker was whistled for a net error. But again, CSUN managed to claim the ensuing point and after Auxier's service error pulled Long Beach even at 14-14, a Faulkner kill and a block from Staker and Stork on match point sent the Matadors to the improbable five-set victory.

Baughman wound up with a match-high 20 kills while hitting .444 to go with nine blocks and five digs. Taylor Crabb added 13 kills (.296) with seven of those coming in the first two sets. Klipsch recorded 43 assists, seven digs and five blocks in the loss.

Cal State Northridge heads back out on the road for its next two matches as the Matadors travel to UC Irvine and UC San Diego next week.

- GO MATADORS -