Looking to end their five-game homestand on a strong note, the Matadors (7-6, 5-6 MPSF) were unable to keep their momentum after a strong first set, losing to visiting third-ranked Long Beach State (12-4, 10-3) 25-22, 21-25, 22-25, 23-25.
Only trailing twice in the first set, the Matadors were unable to continue their strong opening into the next set.
Jumping out to a 12-6 lead in the second set, the 49ers held off multiple comeback attempts by Northridge. Eventually cutting the lead to 22-21, CSUN was unable to get any closer as Long Beach got a pair of blocks and a kill to take the set.
“We didn’t pass particularly well, and we allowed Long Beach to go on
some point runs, which is a little uncharacteristic of us,” said head
coach Jeff Campbell. “But the fact is Long Beach served very well and it
affected our passing, and ultimately that was the reason we couldn’t
kill the ball.”
The 49ers led by as many as six during the third set, and again the Matadors were unable to mount much of a threat to the 49ers lead. Northridge got as close as two throughout the set, and Long Beach put the set away on a kill.
Pushing for a fifth and deciding set, Northridge looked as though they might do it, taking the lead at 17-16 after a Long Beach error. The Matadors eventually won a few long rallies putting them up 23-21, but it wasn’t enough to stop the 49ers. Long Beach went on a four-point streak, winning on a junior outside hitter Taylor Crabb kill to finish the match. Crabb led the 49ers with 22 kills for the night.
“They served aggressively but they kept it in. They made us make the
play and that was something we struggled with all night,” said senior opposite John Baker. “We definitely had a lot of opportunities to close it off and we just missed those opportunities,”
Starting the night strong, the Matadors hit .318 in the first set, but struggled as the night went on hitting .167, .056 and .135. Neither team hit the ball well, both teams had 15 service errors and their were five aces total.
“At a certain point something was always off. We never really had a good pass to a good set and to a good hit,” Baker said. “I know I made a lot of errors I don’t normally make, which sucks, but there was always something that went wrong.”
Leading the Matadors in kills with 14, Baker hit .216 in 37 attempts, but struggled with six service errors. Junior outside hitter Brandon Lebrock had 12 kills, but had an off night, hitting only .030 in 33 attempts.
Overall Long Beach outhit Northridge .231 to .152 and led with 50 kills to the Matadors 49.