No. 2 Cal State Northridge Holds Off No. 5 Pepperdine


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Northridge, Calif. - Junior Eric Vance pounded a career-high 27 kills and Isaac Kneubuhl and Cody Loe also had double figures in kills as second-ranked Cal State Northridge won its 11th consecutive match by holding off No. 5 Pepperdine 30-26, 28-30, 30-25, 26-30, 15-11 in an MPSF match Wednesday in front of the 12th largest crowd (1,079) ever at The Matadome.

With the win, the Matadors continue to improve on their record-setting start at 17-4 overall and 13-3 in the MPSF. The loss drops the Waves to 8-8 overall and 8-8 in conference play.

In posting his third straight double-double, Vance eclipsed his previous career-high in kills (26) with 27 on Wednesday. He hit a solid .383 and added a match-high 13 digs to go with three aces. Vance and Kneubuhl (17 kills) combined for 44 of the Matadors' 71 kills on the night. Kneubuhl also added a pair of aces and seven digs while Loe chipped in 13 kills (.440) and four blocks. Sophomore Mike Gaudino served a career-high six aces as Northridge posted 12 aces as a team.

For Pepperdine, Paul Carroll knocked down a match-high 29 kills (.339) to lead four Wave hitters in double figures. J.D. Schleppenbach (.387) added 14 and Cory Riecks (.250) chipped in 10. Schleppenbach also had three aces and seven digs while Carroll had one ace and tied for the team-high with eight digs.

In an extremely even match, Northridge had 71 kills to 70 for Pepperdine while the Matadors hit .352 to .340 for the Waves. Northridge had a slight 94-91 edge in digs while Pepperdine had an 11.5 to 5.0 edge in team blocks.

In a tightly contested game one, the Matadors led for a good portion but by never more than three points until a 4-0 run with the score tied 18-18 gave Northridge its largest lead at 22-18. A Carroll kill and a Riecks-Mark Hulse block on Gaudino cut the Northridge lead to one at 22-20 forcing a Matador timeout. Another kill from Carroll cut the lead to one but Gaudino answered and the Matadors led 23-21. A service error by Kevin McKniff got the Waves within one (23-22) and Pepperdine also closed to within one at 26-25 after Kenubuhl hit out. But with sub Jeff Baxter at the service line, Northridge rolled off two straight points and a Kneubuhl kill ended the frame at 30-26.

After Northridge held a pair of early leads in game two, Pepperdine got a kill from Schleppenbach and a Riecks ace to take back the lead for good at 6-4. The Waves lead grew to 11-7 after a Carroll kill forcing Northridge into a timeout. The Waves boosted their lead to 13-8 before the Matadors won six of the next nine points to knot the game at 16-16 on a Vance ace. Northridge also tied the game at 17-17 before Pepperdine rolled off four straight to take a 21-17 lead. The Matadors got within one at 27-26 and 29-28 but a Kneubuhl service error evened the match at one game apiece.

The Waves led for the first 15 points of game three only to see the Matadors tie the game on a Hulse service error and take the lead on a Schleppenbach hitting error. Pepperdine tied the game twice more, the last at 10-10 before the Matadors took command with a 7-2 run to open up a 17-12 lead capped by a pair of Gaudino aces. The Northridge lead was never less than three the rest of the way as the Matadors took game two 30-25.

In a must-win game, the Waves led from start to finish in game four. A triple block from Matt McKee, Winder and Hulse gave Pepperdine an early 5-1 lead and the lead grew to as many as seven (13-6) after another block from McKee and Hulse. Down 20-13, Northridge put together a 9-3 run to pull within 23-22 after Carroll hit long. But a Vance service error out of a Waves timeout gave Pepperdine the cushion it needed and the Waves forced a fifth game with a 30-26 win.

With the score even at 6-6 in game five, kills from Kneubuhl and Gaudino and a Tyler Jaynes attack error gave the Matadors a 9-6 cushion. After McKniff and Gaudino teamed up to block Carroll to Matadors looked to be in control at 10-6. But the Waves came back to take three of the next four points to close within two at 11-9 forcing a Matador timeout. A pair of Vance kills sandwiched around a McKee kill put Northridge in front 13-10 and a Loe kill and a Kneubuhl put down off an over pass gave the Matadors the game 15-11 and the match 3-2.

Cal State Northridge will return to action on Mar. 25 as the Matadors host Hawai'i in the first of two matches.

Article courtesy of Cal State Northridge athletics.

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