No. 3 Cal State Northridge Tops UC San Diego


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Northridge, Calif. - Senior Isaac Kneubuhl collected match-highs of 13 kills and seven digs to lead third-ranked Cal State Northridge to a 30-21, 30-19, 30-24 victory over UC San Diego in an MPSF match Friday at The Matadome.

With the win, the Matadors improve to 22-5 overall and 17-4 in the MPSF. The loss drops the Tritons to 10-18 overall and 6-15 in conference play.

The Northridge win also keeps the Matadors deadlocked in first place in the MPSF with BYU and Long Beach State at 17-4. Northridge and Long Beach State meet in The Matadome on Saturday night while BYU hosts USC. The Matadors need to defeat the 49ers and hope for a USC victory at BYU to claim the MPSF regular season championship.

Kneubuhl's 13 kills (.611) was enough to lead the Matadors on Friday night as the senior also dug a match-high seven balls and added three blocks (two solo). Cody Loe (.600), Mike Gaudino (.438) and Eric Vance (.421) also reached double figures in kills with 10 apiece. Setter Travis Bluemling posted 44 assists as the Matadors hit .506 (51-10-81) as a team.

For UCSD, Jason Spangler had a team-high nine kills but hit just .167. Spangler also added both Triton aces and three digs. Russ Hardy (.100), Phil Bannan (.571) and Frank Fritsch (-.077) each added five kills while Bannan posted a match-high four blocks (one solo). Libero Erik Sierks notched a team-high six digs in the loss.

The Matadors led from start to finish in game one after jumping out to an early 4-1 lead. A kill from Spangler got the Tritons within one at 7-6 and UCSD would knot the score three times, the last at 10-10. But kills from Kneubuhl and Kevin McKniff highlighted a 6-2 Northirdge run putting the Matadors back on top 16-12. A Loe hitting error pulled the Tritons within 19-17 but Northridge scored the next four points to open up a 23-17 cushion and eventually took the frame 30-21.

Northridge again led early in game two before kills from Hardy, Bannan and a Kneubuhl hitting error gave the Trions their first lead of the night at 7-6. UCSD also led 8-7 before a Kneubuhl kill and a Bluemling ace propelled the Matadors on a 5-0 run. The Northridge lead was never less than four the rest of the game as the Matadors went up 2-0 with a 30-19 win.

Northridge led for most of game three but never by more than three points until a Gaudino kill put the Matadors up by four at 19-15. Another Gaudino kill gave Northridge its biggest lead at 23-16 and despite the Tritons closing to within three four times down the stretch (the last at 27-24), the Matadors closed out the match with a three unanswered points.

In addition to the much-anticipated battle with Long Beach State, Cal State Northridge will honor seniors Travis Bluemling and Isaac Kneubuhl prior to Saturday's match. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Article courtesy of Cal State Northridge athletics.

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