April 17, 2009
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Senior Eric Vance pounded a match-high 20 kills and sophomore Tanner Nua added 14 as third-ranked Cal State Northridge wrapped up the regular season with an impressive 30-23, 30-21, 30-28 win at No. 13 UC Santa Barbara on Friday at The Thunderdome.
The Matadors, who wrap up the regular season with an overall record of 23-6, improve to 16-6 and clinch third place in the MPSF. Northridge matched the 1993 and 2008 teams for most wins in school history with 23. The loss wraps up the Gauchos' season at 8-19 overall and 4-18 in conference play.
Vance's 20 kills led the Matadors as the senior All-American hit .562 after committing just two errors in 32 swings. He also added three aces, three digs and a pair of blocks. Nua bounced back from a pair of sub-par matches to pound 14 kills in 19 attacks to hit .632. Nua also added two aces and three digs. Mike Gaudino, who has also struggled of late, hit .688 with 11 kills in 16 attacks.
Matt Stork had 44 assists in steering the Matadors to a season-high .598 hitting clip with 54 kills and just five errors in 82 attacks. Libero Ali'i Keohohou posted a match-high 13 digs for Northridge in the win.
The Matadors broke open a tight first set as they overcame an 18-17 UCSB lead by claiming the next four points to open up a 21-18 lead on kills from Gaudino and Vance and a Cullen Irons hitting error. Another 4-1 burst gave Northridge its largest lead at 25-19 following a Vance ace. Leading 29-23, a Kevin McKniff solo stuff gave the Matadors the first set 30-23.
In set two, Northridge jumped out to an 11-5 lead and never looked back. The Gauchos closed to within one at 13-12 and 14-13 but would get no closer. But a 7-2 Matador run put the set out of reach at 21-15 following a Gaudino ace. A pair of Nua kills gave the Matadors their final two points of the set as Northridge went up two sets with the 30-21 win.
UCSB came out determined to force a fourth set as the Gauchos jumped out to an early 8-2 lead. UCSB maintained its lead until a Vance kill completed the Matador comeback knotting the score at 20-20. A Gaudino kill gave the Matadors a 21-20 lead and Northridge would not trail again. The Gauchos would even the score three times down the stretch, the final time at 28-28, before an Irons hitting error followed by a Vance kill on match point gave the Matadors their 23rd win of the season.
Irons wound up leading the Gauchos with 12 kills (.381) while Jeff Menzel added 11 kills (.280). UC Santa Barbara hit .372 as a team.
Cal State Northridge opens MPSF Tournament quarterfinal action next Saturday, Apr. 25 against sixth-seeded BYU. Firs serves is scheduled for 7 p.m.
- GO MATADORS -