April 10, 2010
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Fourth-ranked Cal State Northridge celebrated its 2010 senior night with a 30-27, 30-24, 30-25 sweep over the visiting ninth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions Saturday night in a non-conference match at The Matadome.
Saturday's match marked the regular season home finale for the Matadors (20-7) who honored seniors Theo Edwards, Mike Gaudino, Ali'i Keohohou, Kevin McKniff and Jacek Ratajczak in ceremonies prior to the match.
Edwards responded with a team-high 12 kills (.385) while McKniff added 10 kills (.714) and seven blocks in the finale. Gaudino posted seven kills, 13 digs and five blocks while Ratajczak chipped in eight kills and six blocks. Junior Tanner Nua came off the bench to knock down nine kills (.389).
"Emotionally the guys really wanted to play well and they really wanted to win," said Matador head coach Jeff Campbell. "The seniors all played great volleyball tonight, Jack, Kevin played really well and Tanner came in and did a nice job so it was a good team win."
As a team, the Matadors recorded 29 block assists (14.5) and hit .336 as Matt Stork dished out 44 assists and libero Jim Wielebnicki, starting in place of injured senior Keohohou, had a season-high nine digs.
Northridge limited Penn State (20-7), the third-best hitting team in the country, to a .193 hitting clip. The Nittany Lions hit .095 in the opening set and .189 in set two.
Penn State looked to be in control of the opening set after overcoming an early 6-2 Matador lead. A Will Price kill followed by a Edgardo Goas-Max Lipsitz block broke open a 7-7 tie and the Lions held a lead until Lipsitz's hitting error evened the set at 16. But Northridge could not regain the lead and Penn State built its cushion back to three at 22-19 following a Lipsitz putaway. Trailing 23-21, Northridge engineered a 4-0 run, highlighted by a McKniff-Stork block that pulled the Matadors even at 23, to open up a 25-23 advantage. The Lions got back within one on a pair of occasions but could get no closer and Ratacjack's kill ended the set.
The Matadors did not trail in either of the final two sets. Penn State tied the score three times midway through the second set, the final time at 15-15, before Northridge claimed seven of the next nine points to take an insurmountable 22-17 lead. Holding a 29-24 lead, Price's attack went long and the Matadors had a two-set lead.
Although the Matadors did not trail in the final set, Penn State kept it close never trailing by more than three points until a Nua kill gave Northridge a 20-16 lead. Nua put down another and the Matadors had their biggest lead at 22-17 before the Lions closed to within 29-25 on a Joe Sunder kill. But Price's hitting error on the ensuing play ended the match.
Price wound up with a match-high 19 kills (.268) for Penn State which also got 11 kills from Sunder (.115) and nine from Lipsitz (.400). Libero Dennis Del Valle posted a team-high 12 digs in the loss.
Cal State Northridge wraps up the MPSF regular season with a crucial two-match road trip to second-ranked BYU next Friday and Saturday, Apr. 16-17.
- GO MATADORS -