Cal State Northridge Advances to MPSF Semifinals Win Over Stanford


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Northridge, Calif. - Junior Eric Vance had a match-high 15 kills and freshman Cody Loe added 13 as third-seeded Cal State Northridge advanced to the MPSF Tournament semifinals after defeating sixth-seeded Stanford, 30-26, 30-19, 30-28 in a quarterfinal match Saturday at The Matadome.

With the win, the Matadors improve to 23-6 overall and match the 1993 Northridge team for the most wins in a single season in Matador history. The loss ends the Cardinal's season at 17-11.

Vance's 15 kills led four Northridge hitters in double figures as the junior First Team All-MPSF selection hit .257 and also served three of the Matadors' eight aces. Loe hit .524 on his way to 13 kills, senior Isaac Kneubuhl recorded 12 kills while hitting a match-high .632 and sophomore Kevin McKniff chipped in 10 kills (.467). Kneubuhl and Mike Gaudino each added a pair of aces and libero Ali'i Keohohou had a team-high 10 digs. Matador setter Travis Bluemling posted 50 assists as the Matadors hit .406 on their way to their 12th win in 13 home matches this season.

For Stanford, Spencer McLachlin was the lone Cardinal in double figures with 10 kills (.280). Evan Romero added eight kills (.125) as Stanford was limited to a .192 hitting clip.

After the Cardinal held the lead for the first 13 points of game one, the Matadors took advantage of back-to-back hitting errors from Romero to take an 8-7 lead. After Stanford drew even at 9-9, Northridge rolled off five consecutive points to open up its biggest lead of the frame at 14-9. After the Cardinal cut the lead to one (16-15) following a Vance hitting error, the Matadors won five of the next six points to boost the lead back to 21-16.

But Stanford would not go away and despite trailing by five at 22-17, the Cardinal put together a four-point run to again close to within one at 22-21 on a Romero kill. The Matadors held the lead until Stanford drew even at 24-24 after a Matt Ceran kill but Northridge got three kills from Vance over the final eight points as the Matadors outscored the Cardinal 6-2 down the stretch for the 30-26 win.

McKniff knocked down a kill on the first point of game two and the Matadors never trailed the rest of the way. Stanford tied the score just twice in the game, the last at 2-2, before Northridge opened up an 11-7 lead after Romero's attack went wide. The Matador lead soon grew to as many as seven at 19-12 following a Gaudino kill. The Cardinal got within five at 21-16 but would get no closer as Northridge won game two 30-19.

Game three turned out be the most tightly contested of the match. Both teams traded early leads but neither squad led by more than one point until a McLachlin kill gave Stanford a 9-7 lead. The Cardinal held the lead until McLachlin's attack error evened things up at 11-11. The Matadors then got kills from Vance and Loe followed by a McKniff ace to open up a 14-11 lead and force a Cardinal timeout. With Northridge on top 16-15, the teams traded sideouts for the next 20 points before a Vance kill put the Matadors up 27-25. But back-to-back kills from Romero and McLachlin evened the frame at 27-27. Kneubuhl answered for the Matadors and after Romero hit long, the Matadors had match point at 29-27. After a McKniff service error, a Kneubuhl kill ended the match in Northridge's favor 30-28.

Cal State Northridge will next take on second-seeded BYU in the MPSF semifinals on Thursday, Apr. 24 at Long Beach State. First serve is scheduled for 8 p.m. and is preceded by fifth-seed Pepperdine taking on top-seed Long Beach State at 5:30 p.m.

Article courtesy of Cal State Northridge athletics.

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