LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Sophomore Britney Graff had a team-high 15 kills but Cal State Northridge dropped their second round match of the UNLV Invitational, 25-27, 26-24, 35-37, 18-25 to Southern Utah Saturday morning at Cox Pavilion.
The Matadors (5-4), who defeated Eastern Washington in five sets Friday night, lost for the just the second time in their last seven matches. The Thunderbirds win for just the second time this season in nine matches.
In a match that saw three of the sets go to extra points, CSUN wound up hitting .194 as a team while Southern Utah hit at a .271 clip. The Matadors, who had out-blocked five of their first seven opponents this season, were out-blocked by the Thunderbirds 14.0-5.0.
"We didn't have any blocks in the third or fourth sets which is surprising for us," said head coach Jeff Stork. "But credit Southern Utah they played scrappy and with a lot of intensity. We didn't serve real well in critical moments and committed a hitting error when was had a chance to win the third set."
Graff had her best hitting match of the young season with 15 kills (.250) playing both outside hitter and on the right side. Mahina Haina added 14 kills (.182) and freshman Casey Hinger chipped in 11 kills (.200) and a career-high three aces.
After the Matadors dropped the opening set 27-25, they overcame a 23-16 deficit to knot the score at 24-24 in set two before a pair of Graff kills gave CSUN the improbable 26-24 win.
After the two teams battled to a 24-24 tie in the third set, a Hinger kill gave the Matadors set point at 25-24. But Southern Utah answered before Hinger again put down a kill giving CSUN their second set point at 26-25. But Haina's ensuing attack went wide and the teams then traded sideouts until 35-35 when a Hinger service error followed by a Kylie Schofield kill gave the Thunderbirds the crucial set win.
CSUN then trailed for a majority of the final set. The Matadors temporarily pulled within 11-9 before Southern Utah blew the set open taking a 19-13 lead.
Analaine Mailoto led the Thunderbirds with a match-high 20 kills (.351) while Schofield added 12 kills (.300).
Cal State Northridge concludes the UNLV Invitational tonight as the Matadors take on the host Rebels at 7 p.m.
- GO MATADORS -