The ninth-ranked CSUN men’s volleyball team (10-9, 8-9 MPSF) lost its third straight game Wednesday night, opening its final homestand of the season in a tough five set match against the 11th-ranked Cal Baptist Lancers (12-11, 8-9) 25-23, 23-25, 22-25,25-21, 16-14.
The Matadors were never able to take control of the game, exemplified in the fifth set, where the Matadors led 3-1 early and let up a 6-1 run by the Lancers to make it a 7-4 deficit, capped off by a kill from Lancer senior outside hitter Levi Cabral.
Northridge fought back in the set tying the score at 14-14, but it was not enough as Cal Baptist scored the game’s last two points with a game-winning kill by Cabral.
“We just did not make many plays in game five in order to win,” said head coach Jeff Campbell. “Usually in a match like that it will be just one or two plays. They had a fast offense that created some problems (for blocking) and this is the second match in a row that we just did not block balls. (For next game) we just got to get better by focusing on those things.”
For the match, CSUN had a total of 5.5 blocks, compared to the Lancers’ 16 blocks.
“In the fifth set it was a matter of two points whether it was our passing, serving, hitting or blocking. It was one of those things that one of us could have made the difference,” said senior opposite hitter John Baker, who had 23 kills and a .477 hitting percentage for the match. “I feel we could have blocked more.They (also) hit the high .300 so that not ok in this league and that’s what separates a winning team from a losing team.”
The Matadors began the first set in a quick 4-1 deficit to the Lancers, but responded with a 3-1 run to close the lead to 5-4. Cal Baptist went on a 9-3 run that stretched the lead out seven points at 14-7.
Northridge was able to close the margin to one twice late in the match at 20-19 and 24-23, but Cal Baptist answered back each time with a kill by senior outside hitter Aaron McCalmont to win the first set.
In the next two sets teams the battled back and forth, tying the score 13 times in the second set, and 21 times in the third set.
CSUN began to separate itself in the second set at 21-19, after a kill from sophomore setter Travis Magorien, who had 38 assists for the game. Northridge increased the lead to 23-20 after a kill by junior outside hitter Brandon Lebrock.
The Lancers responded with a 3-0 run, but it was quickly answered by the Matadors who won the set 25-23, scoring the last two points.
The third set was another back and forth battle, with the Matadors gutting out another set win 25-22 by scoring the last three points, finished off with a kill by Baker.
In the fourth set the teams were tied early at 4-4 until the Lancers went on an 8-3 run that was culminated by a Cabral kill to push the score to a 11-7 lead. The Lancers never relinquished the lead and won the game 25-21.
“I think we not mentally prepared on our side (tonight), “ said senior middle back Jared Moore, who had 7 kills for the game. “We were just a little too much focused on them and not ourselves…We just need to play better.