No. 2 CS Northridge Improves to 5-0 With Four-Set Win Over No. 5 UC Irvine


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IRVINE, Calif. - Senior All-American Eric Vance pounded a season-high 25 kills and junior Kevin McKniff added 10 kills and eight blocks as second-ranked Cal State Northridge remained unbeaten with a 25-30, 30-26, 30-27, 30-25 win at No. 5 UC Irvine on Friday at the Bren Center.

With the win, the Matadors improve to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the MPSF. The loss drops the Anteaters to 4-2 overall and UCI sees its MPSF record evened at 1-1.

Vance led all hitters with 25 kills as the senior hit .364 in 55 attacks. He completed his second consecutive double-double by adding 10 digs to go with a pair of aces which gives him 133 aces in his Northridge career. McKniff posted season-high's in kills (10) and blocks (8.0) while Jacek Ratajczak and Tanner Nua each chipped in 11 kills. Matt Stork registered a season-high 60 assists while Mike Gaudino added eight kills, 13 digs and nine blocks. Three Matadors reached double figures in digs led by Ali'i Keohohou's 14.

Northridge hit .253 (66-27-154) as a team compared to .194 (53-26-139) for UC Irvine.

Freshman Carson Clark led the Anteaters with 22 kills (.286) while Jordan DuFault chipped in 16 (.308).

After dropping the first set 30-25, the Matadors bounced back to hit .355 and led from start to finish in set two. In the pivotal third set, UCI looked to be in control after a Clark kill gave the Anteaters a 27-24 lead. But a Ryan Ammerman service error followed by a Nua kill and a McKniff-Gaudino block on DuFault drew Northridge even at 27-27. Two more blocks from Gaudino and McKniff followed by a Vance ace on set point put the Matadors in the drivers seat up 2-1.

With the score tied 11-11 in the fourth set, a 4-0 Northridge run put the Matadors in front to stay at 15-11. Nua and Ratajczak were instrumental in the run as Nua put down a pair of kills and Ratajczak had a kill and a solo block. The lead swelled to as many as seven at 21-14 after a UCI hitting error and the Matador lead was never less than four the rest of the way.

Cal State Northridge will be off until Friday, Jan. 23 when the Matadors open up the home season against UC Santa Barbara. First serve at The Matadome is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Article courtesy of Cal State Northridge athletics.

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