CSUN stormed back after dropping the first set to defeat the No. 6 Penn State Nittany Lions in State College, Pennsylvania on Friday night.
The Matadors have had a difficult time on the road leading up to this game, losing five of their six games including their last three overall.
They showed resilience, however, fighting back against Penn State to take the match on a tough opponent’s floor. The win for CSUN marked only the second time the Nittany Lions have been defeated on their home court this season.
After dropping the first set 25-20, the Matadors worked hard to win the next three sets and take the match, including a dramatic back and forth second set. CSUN trailed by scores of 6-10, 7-12, and 9-13 before shocking Penn State and winning the set. The Matadors never had a lead larger than two points in the second set, but in the end it was all they needed. After a final serve from junior outside hitter Jakub Ciesla, the Nittany Lions committed an attacking error to cap the Matadors’ come back.
Ciesla led the Matadors with 19 kills (.203) and three aces, while also playing a solid defensive game with ten digs.
CSUN appeared to feed off the momentum from their epic second set victory on their way to winning the third set by another close score, 25-23. Freshman outside hitter Dimitar Kalchev ended the set emphatically with a service ace and the night with 16 kills (.250), and added two more aces to bring his team-leading season total to 39.
By the fourth set the Matadors had the win in their sights, taking leads of 16-13, 22-16 and 24-19 before taking the set 25-21 and the match 3-1. Junior outside hitter Bradley Sakaida had four kills in the set, including the final point, and one ace. Sakaida finished with nine total kills (.444), 10 digs, and one service ace.
CSUN finishes their road trip tomorrow at 2 p.m. local time against the University of Mount Olive.