W-Vball: Matadors can’t pull off comeback, have hearts broken by UCSB

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W-Vball: Matadors can’t pull off comeback, have hearts broken by UCSB

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Alonso Tacanga

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The Matadors fought back from a 2-0 hole, but ultimately fell to UCSB, 3-2, Friday night at the Matadome. Photo Credit: Tessie Navarro / Visual editor

CSUN setter Sydney Gedryn declined comment as she was consoled by her parents outside the Matadome.

Casey Hinger, the vocal CSUN middle blocker, also passed on sharing her postgame thoughts.

It was all very understandable Friday, a night that started out like a Jason Vorhees movie and began to turn into a Katy Perry song right before UC Santa Barbara proceeded to rip the Matadors’ hearts out with a 3-2 win.

The Matadors (14-13, 8-7 Big West) fought back from a 2-0 deficit and won sets three and four behind inspired defense. CSUN looked poised to complete its comeback as it led the Gauchos (17-11, 10-5) 12-9 in the fifth set, but untimely mistakes prevented it from happening.

Cindy Ortiz had a service error, Natalie Allen couldn’t squeeze a kill inbounds, Britney Graff was blocked, and UCSB outside hitter Leah Sully had a kill to cap the Gauchos’ game-ending 6-1 run that laid CSUN’s hopes for a share of second place in the Big West Conference to rest.

“We pushed as hard as we could,” said Allen, who along with Sully had a game-high 15 kills. “But some points just didn’t go our way, so we end up losing.”

CSUN couldn’t take advantage of the Gauchos’ six hitting errors that offset their six kills and gave them a .000 hitting percentage in the fifth set. The Matadors, who had four hitting errors in the frame, also recorded four service errors.

And so, the drama-filled night that looked like would conclude in a sixth consecutive euphoric home win for CSUN, ended in heartache.

“It was a tough loss,” Graff said. “But we’re pretty proud that we came back and fought hard.”

With a 3-0 defeat at UCSB from Nov. 9 still fresh on their minds, the Matadors went at  the Gauchos hard to start the match and got off to an 11-4 lead in the first set.

The home team’s energy and urgency was visible as – in two instances – players dove into the scorer’s table attempting to save a point. In one of those occasions, Allen’s attempt went awry as she hit the table heavily and caused the overhead scoreboard to turn off.

Meanwhile, the Gauchos chopped at the Matador lead slowly. Following Allen’s hustle play, UCSB went on a 5-0 run and evened things up at 15-15.

CSUN regained the lead momentarily, but ultimately the Gauchos would complete a 10-6 run to hand the Matadors a deflating 25-21 first-set defeat.

“(The Gauchos) got a few runs on us,” Graff said. “They kind of caught us off guard.”

The Matadors were the ones in need of some runs in the second set as UCSB opened up an early 9-3 lead and never looked back. The predominantly defensive-minded Gauchos hit a blistering .382 to win the frame 25-16 and take a 2-0 lead into intermission.

The deficit left CSUN in need of a big-time pep talk. Instead, the Matadors simply decided to practice the plainest of game plans.

“We talked about just starting a new game,” Graff said of what was said in the CSUN locker room during the intermission. “Just having fun out there.”

CSUN came out of the locker room a new team and scored the first five points of the third set. Just like in the first set, the lead ballooned to 11-4, but the Matadors didn’t allow this one to get away. CSUN led by a many as nine points en route to a 25-17 win to cut into UCSB’s lead.

A comeback was needed in the fourth set for CSUN to send it into a deciding frame. And the Matadors got just that as they went on a 16-5 run and tied the game with a 25-16 win.

The most important comeback of the night, however, couldn’t be achieved. UCSB took the fifth and second place all for itself.

“At the end, we were ahead, and (had) a couple of errors,” Graff said. “But I don’t think our heads were out of it at all at the end. We fought to the end.”

The Matadors will finish their conference schedule Saturday night vs. Cal Poly at the Matadome.