No. 4 CS Northridge Defeats No. 7 UC Irvine, 3-0


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Northridge, Calif. - Junior Eric Vance knocked down a match-high 23 kills while senior Isaac Kneubuhl added 12 as fourth-ranked Cal State Northridge defeated seventh-ranked UC Irvine 30-27, 30-24, 30-26 in an MPSF match Wednesday at The Matadome.

With the win, the Matadors (11-4, 7-3 MPSF) snap a five-match losing streak to the Anteaters and run their current winning streak to a season-high five games. The loss drops the Anteaters to 8-9 overall and 5-7 in conference play.

Vance, who is averaging nearly five kills per game over his last three matches, hit .311 in 45 swings on Wednesday. He also added three digs, one ace and one block. His 23 kills is the most by an MPSF player in a three-game match this season. Kneubuhl chipped in 12 kills (.450) and four digs, Cody Loe had nine kills (.200) and three blocks and Kevin McKniff added eight kills (.583) two aces and a pair of blocks. Setter Travis Bluemling posted 49 assists and five digs as the Matadors hit .318 (39-12-85) in the win.

For UCI, Jon Steller had a team-high 16 kills while hitting .517 and Cory Yoder also reached double figures in kills with 12 (.226). Ryan Ammerman, who split setting duties with Anthony Spittle, posted 23 assists and libero Brent Asuka registered a match-high 10 digs.

As a team, Northridge had five aces while the Anteaters were held without an ace and committed 16 service errors.

After the Anteaters held a brief 2-1 lead in game one, the Matadors used a Steller service error and a Mike Gaudino kill to take a 3-2 lead and Northridge never looked back. UCI tied the game three times, the last at 11-11 before the Matadors opened up a 16-12 lead after a Kneubuhl kill. The Northridge lead grew to as many as five (26-21) before the Anteaters battled back to within one at 27-26 after Vance hit long. But a set error called on Spittle after a Matador timeout gave Northridge the cushion it needed to take game one 30-27.

UCI led for the first 21 points of game two before a McKniff ace tied things at 11-11. The Matadors then got back-to-back kills from Vance to boost their lead to 13-11 forcing an Anteater timeout. Then with Northridge clinging to a slim 18-17 lead, the Matadors took advantage of a pair of UCI hitting errors along with a pair of Vance kills to open up a 22-17 advantage. The Anteaters battled back to with two (25-23) after a Vance hitting error but could get no closer as the Matadors claimed game two 30-24.

Game three proved to be a battle as neither team led by more than three points until the final margin. With the score knotted at 22-22, Loe knocked down a kill then put up a solo block on Kevin Wynne on the next point giving Northridge the 24-22 lead. The teams traded sideouts until a kill by Steller closed the gap to 26-25. But the Matadors responded with kills from Knuebuhl and Vance to take a 28-25 lead which proved to be the difference as Northridge took game three 30-26.

Cal State Northridge closes its brief two-match homestand on Friday, Feb. 22 as the Matadors entertain No. 6 UCLA at 7 p.m.

Article courtesy of Cal State Northridge athletics.

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