The No. 2 Anteaters came in to the Matadome on Friday and accomplished two things no other team had been able to do this season: win more than one set against the No. 1 Matadors set and leave Northridge with a win. UC Irvine’s 3-2 win over CSUN moved the Anteaters a half a game ahead of the Matadors in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
The loss snapped the Matadors’ 10-game winning streak. It will also likely drop them out of their top spot when the rankings are announced Monday.
‘The streak doesn’t really matter,’ freshman Matt Stork said. ‘It’s just one loss. Hopefully it doesn’t hurt us, but we will definitely bounce back.’
Leading the way for the Matadors was senior Eric Vance with 20 kills while sophomore Tanner Nua pitched in 17. Stork added 63 assists in the losing effort.
The Matadors (16-3, 12-3 MPSF) got out to a shaky start as the Anteaters (17-3, 12-2 MPSF) capitalized on six Matador errors early in the first to get out to a 9-4 advantage. CSUN fell behind by as many as seven midway through the frame. The Matadors began chipping away at the Anteater lead before finally tying the score at 21 after a kill by Nua. UC Irvine regained the lead on the next point, but that was the last time the Anteaters held am advantage as the Matadors closed the set on an 8-4 run to win the frame 30-27.
Building off the momentum from the end of the first set, the Matadors got out to an 18-14 lead in the second before UC Irvine rallied with a 4-0 run to tie the game. The Anteaters took command of the set from that point on, outscoring CSUN 12-10 to take the frame 30-28.
After the Matadors took a brief 10-9 lead in the third set, the Anteaters once again had their way with CSUN in holding it to a dismal .062 hitting percentage in route to an easy 30-23 set win.
‘Our passing in games two and three really suffered,’ CSUN coach Jeff Campbell said, ‘Our serving was inconsistent and we had a number of misses from a few of our guys tonight.’
The Matadors refused to lose in the fourth set and tied the game at 14 after falling behind by two. The frame went back and forth until the Matadors took control following an attack error from the Anteaters, which gave CSUN a comfortable 27-23 lead. Five points later, another UC Irvine attack error handed the Matadors the fourth set and forced a deciding fifth.
Not even the largest crowd the Matadome has seen all season (1,197) could help the Matadors in crunch time as everything seemed to go the Anteaters’ way in the fifth set.UCI jumped to a 5-1 lead, causing Campbell to call for time.’ The Matadors’ inability to handle UC Irvine’s serve cost them dearly at the outset of the frame. CSUN got within 12-9, but back-to-back mistakes by the Matadors sealed their faith. CSUN dropped the set 15-10.
‘In the last set, they just outplayed us,’ CSUN opposite hitter Tanner Nua said. ‘ They hit really well, they blocked really well and we couldn’t match that.’
The Matadors will try to start a new winning streak this week as they continue their seven-game homestand with a pair of matches against non-conference opponents NJIT and Lees-McRae on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.