No. 1 Cal State Northridge's 10-Match Winning Streak Snapped by No. 2 UC Irvine


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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Pseudo holidays have not been kind to Cal State Northridge against UC Irvine as the second-ranked Anteaters dealt the top-ranked Matadors their first home loss with a 27-30, 30-28, 30-23, 26-30, 15-10 win Friday at The Matadome.

In 2008, UC Irvine snapped the Matadors school-record 14-match winning streak with a 3-1 win on April Fools Day. This time it was Friday the 13th that snuck up on Northridge as the Anteaters held off the Matadors to win in five sets.

With the win, UCI improves to 17-3 overall and 12-2 in conference and takes over the lead in the MPSF. The loss, Northridge's first in 10 home matches, drops the Matadors to 16-3 overall and 12-3 in the MPSF.

Senior Eric Vance led the Matadors with a match-high 20 kills (.302) and narrowly missed his sixth double-double after adding nine digs. Vance also served two aces, the sixth-straight match he has had at least two aces. Sophomore Tanner Nua added 17 kills (.184) and had four of Northridge's seven aces. Jacek Ratajczak (13 kills, .184) and Mike Gaudino (11 kills, .240) also reached double figures in kills. Gaudino added seven digs and the Matadors' other ace while Ratajczak had a team-high six blocks. Libero Ali'i Keohohou posted a match-high 14 digs while Matt Stork had 63 assists while leading Northridge to a .305 hitting clip.

After holding an early 2-1 lead in the first set, the Matadors quickly dug themselves a hole as the Anteaters bolted to a 10-4 lead. The UCI lead grew to as many as seven at 13-6 and 14-7 before Northridge began to mount a comeback. Trailing by five at 20-15, the Matadors put together a 6-1 run, the last three points coming on kills from Ratajczak, Vance and Nua. The score was also tied at 23-23 before Nua uncorked a pair of aces and the Matadors went up 25-23. Northridge would complete the comeback on set point when Vance and Ratajczak teamed up to send Carson Clark's attack back onto the Anteaters half of the court.

The Matadors looked to take that momentum in set two and things looked good after a triple block on UCI's Taylor Wilson gave Northridge an early 7-3 lead. The Matadors matched their biggest lead of the set at both 16-12 and 18-14 before a 4-0 Anteater run, capped by a Ryan Ammerman ace, pulled UCI even at 18-18. The Anteaters went on to win six of the next eight points to take their largest lead at 24-20. The Matadors were able to pull within 29-28 on a Vance kill but Nua served out on the ensuing set point.

UCI led 9-5 in the third set before an Austin D'Amore service error, a Vance ace, back-to-back Anteater hitting errors and a Gaudino kill gave the Matadors their only lead of the frame at 10-9. But consecutive hitting miscues by Nua and Gaudino followed by a Ammerman ace put UCI back in front to stay at 12-10. Northridge trimmed UCI's 17-15 to 17-17 after a Cory Yoder hitting error and a Nua ace but the Matadors would get no closer the remainder of the set. With the Anteaters holding a slim 21-20 lead, UCI rolled off five consecutive points to put the set out of reach.

The fourth set was the tighest of the match as there were 11 ties and four lead changes. Neither team would lead by more than two points until a Nua kill and a Jordan DuFault hitting error put the Matadors up by three at 24-21. Northridge led by four at 27-23 before back-to-back UCI points cut the lead to 27-25 forcing a Matador timeout. Out of the timeout, Northridge got kills from Nua and Vance and a DuFault hitting error on set point and the match headed to a decisive fifth set.

A pair of early Matador miscues led the Anteaters taking an early 5-1 lead forcing Northridge play catch-up the entire set. A Vance kill cut the Anteater lead to 6-3 and the Matadors also trailed by three at 8-5 but back-to-back kills from Clark and DuFault forced Northridge to call timeout at 10-5. A 4-2 Matador run out of the timeout again got Northridge within three at 12-9 but the Matadors would get no closer and a Yoder kill ended match.

DuFault led three Anteater hitters in double figues with 17 kills (.175). Clark added 14 (.211) and Kevin Wynne clipped in 12 (.500).

Northridge wound up hitting .305 (68-25-141) as a team to .287 (65-26-136) for the Anteaters. UCI had 36 block assists as a team while the Matadors had three solo stuffs and 18 block assists.

Cal State Northridge opens a stretch of three straight non-conference matches next week as the Matadors host NJIT (Mar. 17), Lees-McRae (Mar. 18) and Hope International (Mar. 21) to wrap up a seven-match homestand.

Article courtesy of Cal State Northridge athletics.

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