Matadors split two matches with No.2 BYU

Jay Guillory

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SPLIT: Matt Stork (11) and Kaleo Baxter (6) try to hit the ball in the match Friday. Photo Credit: Herber Lovato / assistant photo editor

The Matador men’s volleyball team (6-16, 4-11 MPSF) split against the No. 2 BYU Cougars (14-7, 10-6 MPSF) by taking the first match in straight sets Friday, but lost the second match Saturday. The Cougars bounced back to beat CSUN in a dominating win 25-17, 25-16, 25-19.

After CSUN’s good performance the night before, it was clear the Matadors’ back-to-back matches were the factor in the loss against the Cougars.
“We were mentally tired from last night and weren’t prepared to battle,” outside hitter Brandon Lebrock said.

CSUN split at home 2-2, improving their record to 3-8 at the Matadome. The Matadors have played better, winning two out of five matches in March.

In the first match against BYU, CSUN swept the Cougars (25-23, 25-21, 29-27). The Matadors have now won twice at home against teams ranked second in the AVCA Top-15 poll.

Tanner Nua had a team-high 16 kills while hitting .371 in 35 swings. Nua was not the only Matador impressive against the Cougars as Matt Stork added 15 kills.

The Matadors had solid production from their freshmen Greg Faulkner and Lebrock combining 14 kills, leading CSUN to a .373 (52-14-102) hitting percentage.

“We played hard in both games against BYU, we’re glad we got the win in the first game; we have confidence that we can beat these top-ranked teams,” Faulkner said.

BYU almost matched CSUN’s hitting percentage with .345 (47-17-87), but they had success in other areas like blocks with 7.5 to CSUN’s 3.0. This season, BYU leads the MPSF in blocking.

The Cougars opened the game with an early 6-3, and then the Matadors rallied for three straight kills by Nua and Lebrock. The Matadors took their first lead at 8-7 before the lead changed multiple times.

The teams traded side-outs until they were tied again, 23-23, when CSUN got a game-winning kill from Stork, taking it 25-23.

In the second game, the Matadors held an early 4-3 lead until Cougars Robb Stowell and Quentin Smith blocked Lebrock giving them a 7-5 lead. BYU would extend the lead 12-9 before the Matadors put together a 6-0 run.

CSUN opened up its largest lead at 17-13 with kills from Drew Staker, Lebrock and Nua and hitting errors by BYU. The Matadors pulled away late in the set with a 24-19 lead right before Staker sealed the game with a kill.

The final games saw Northridge take a commanding 9-4 lead while BYU kept it close to eventually tie the game 23-23. With the Matadors trailing 27-26, Stork gave CSUN back-to-back kills and put the lead to 28-27. Nua’s block sealed the Matadors’ 3-0 victory.

Fatigue was a factor for the Matadors in Saturday’s match as they lost to BYU.

“I believe it was playing two games in two nights that was tough for us. We’re a young team, so this is the first time we had to do this,” Faulkner said.

BYU was sharp against CSUN from the get-go on Saturday, hitting .410 as a team to just .115 for the Matadors.

Northridge and BYU played even for the first six points of the opening game before the Cougars ran away with a 21-10 lead. The Matadors were able to get back within seven points late in the set, but BYU’s Alex DaPron slammed down a kill to win 25-17.

The second game was similar to the first as CSUN hung around with BYU early before the Cougars went on a run to win easily 25-16.

The final set CSUN would be competitive against the Cougars, but they wouldn’t be caught off guard in the rematch as they controlled the tempo the entire game.

“They played well and they served a lot tougher than they did the night before. On our side I didn’t feel like there was a sense of urgency that we needed,” Stork said.