No. 4 Cal State Northridge Tops No. 6 UCLA for Sixth Straight Win


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Northridge, Calif. - Senior Isaac Kneubuhl and junior Eric Vance had a team-high 18 kills apiece and freshman Cody Loe addded 15 as fourth-ranked Cal State Northridge defeated No. 6 UCLA 30-28, 29-31, 35-33, 30-28 for its sixth-straight win on Friday at The Matadome.

With the win, the Matadors improve to 12-4 overall and 8-3 in the MPSF. Northridge continues to improve on its best start in conference since opening 9-3 in 1993. The loss drops the Bruins to 10-7 overall and 7-5 in conference.

Kneubuhl hit a solid .405 on his way to 18 kills while Vance hit .310 and narrowly missed a double-double with nine digs. Kneubuhl committed just three errors in 37 swings while Vance had just five errors in 42 attacks. Loe also hit well checking in at .355 to go with a pair of aces. Kevin McKniff chipped in seven kills (.400) and libero Ali'i Keohohou posted a team-high 15 digs. Setter Travis Bluemling registered 56 assists and three blocks (one solo) as Northridge hit .336 (64-16-143) in the win.

For UCLA, Garrett Muagututia had a match-high 31 kills while hitting .480 to go with seven digs. Sean O'Malley was the only Bruin to reach double figures in kills with 10 (.240). UCLA libero Tony Ker dug a match-high 17 balls and Kevin Ker came off the bench to post 12 assists and serve three aces.

Despite being out-hit in game one .452 to .379 the Matadors won the frame 30-28 on a Muagututia service error. After trailing early 5-4, Northridge took back the lead 6-5 on a Loe ace. UCLA tied the game 12 times, the last at 27-27, but Northridge never surrendered the lead. A kill from Vance at 27-27 followed by a Loe-Bluemling block gave the Matadors the margin they needed.

In game two, UCLA led briefly at 17-16 and would not lead again until 30-29 following a Muagututia kill. With Ryan Ratelle at the service line, the Bruins rolled off four straight points and stole the game 31-29 after Loe's attack went wide.

In what turned out to be the decisive game, the teams traded the lead early in game three ultimately battling to a 23-23 tie. From there back-to-back kills from Kevin Ker and Ratelle forced Northridge to call timeout at 25-23. Despite going down 28-25, the Matadors saved a pair of game points to knot the score at 29-29 on a Kneubuhl kill. UCLA then had four game points before McKniff and Mike Gaudino teamed up to block Ratelle tying the score again at 33-33. McKniff then turned into the hero as he served back-to-back aces propelling the Matadors to the comeback 35-33 win.

Northridge led virtually from start to finish in game four opening up a 12-8 lead after Brett Perrine hit long. The Matador lead was at least three until the Bruins closed to within two at 28-26 on a Muagututia kill. But Kneubuhl answered and despite UCLA saving two match points, the Matadors closed the match on a Gaudino kill.

Cal State Northridge heads back out on the road for its next two matches beginning next Friday, Feb. 29 at Long Beach State.

Article courtesy of Cal State Northridge athletics.

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