No. 10 UCLA crushes No. 2 CSUN in three sets, giving them their first loss of the season

Victor Corona

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Kevin McKniff (10) takes an offensive shot against UCLA at the Matadome Friday January 22, 2010. Despite McKniff's eight kills, Northridge lost 3-0. Photo Credit: Sarah Smith / Staff Photographer

The Matadors’ six-match unbeaten streak to start the season came to an end Friday night at the Matadome as No. 10 UCLA swept the No. 2 team in the country 30-21, 30-24, 30-21.

The Bruins (3-4, 2-2 MPSF) did not just sweep the Matadors (6-1, 3-1 MPSF) they ran them out the floor and handed them one of the worst loses in recent memory.

“They served us out of the court,” said senior middle blocker Jacek Ratajczak, who was benched midway through the third set. “We didn’t expect them to serve so hard throughout the entire game. We knew they were going to have streaks but they served consistently for the whole game. We couldn’t pass and that affected our hitters… they had double and sometimes triple blocks on us, it was tough.”

Northridge came into the match 6-0 and were looking to set a record for the best start in school history. Just a year ago they were in the same situation and lost back-to-back matches in Hawaii.

CSUN was riding high after a fourth set win over No. 4 UC Irvine at the Matadome on Wednesday but the Bruins came out looking to hand the Matadors their first loss of the season.

UCLA stormed out right from the start setting the tone early with three aces and seven-and-a-half blocks as they breezed to an easy first set win.

“We intimidated their hitters,” UCLA head coach Al Scates said. “They started hitting balls out after we stuffed them a few times and that always happens. We got in their face the first hit of the game and we stayed on it the whole night.”

Things were so bad for CSUN that not one single player finished the night with double-figure kills. Junior opposite hitter Tanner Nua led the way with nine kills. The team finished with a combine 24 kills and hit a season low 0.52.

“We couldn’t do the basic skills needed to win out there tonight, which was a big hit to us and a big factor to their win. So it was one of the worst losses I’ve seen since I been here,” Nua said.

The most competitive set of the night came in the second as the Matadors got out to a 20-17 advantage after a kill by Nua. The Bruins took command of the set and match from that point on with a 8-1 run that seemed to crush CSUN’s hopes of making the match competitive, as they went on to drop the frame 30-24 and fall two sets to none.

“We haven’t been put in this position, where we were down two games to none,” head coach Jeff Campbell said. “We were 6-0 prior to this match so our guys need to feel a little adversity going forward and be able to scrap their way out of it and tonight it just didn’t happen.”

Northridge gets a few days off, as they prepare to travel up north for back-to-back matches on Friday and Saturday against No. 3 Stanford and Pacific.

“We have to just bounce back forget about tonight and move on,” senior middle blocker Kevin McKniff said about getting ready for Stanford and Pacific, while putting the UCLA loss behind them.