No. 2 Cal State Northridge Holds On to Defeat No. 13 Hawai'i 3-2


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Northridge, Calif. - Junior Eric Vance put down a career-high 40 kills as second-ranked Cal State Northridge held off the upset bid of No. 13 Hawai'i to win in five games (30-28, 41-43, 26-30, 30-22, 15-13) in an MPSF match on Tuesday at The Matadome.

With the win, the Matadors claim their 12th-consecutive win and improve to 18-4 overall and 14-3 in the MPSF. The loss drops the Warriors to 10-12 overall and 7-10 in conference play.

Vance's 40 kills, the best in the MPSF this season, came within one of the Northridge rally-scoring era record of 41 set by Dan Rhodes against Pepperdine in 2006. The junior from Camarillo took a career-high 86 swings on Tuesday, shattering his previous career-high of 57 attempts against UCLA in 2006. Vance hit .326 and added four aces, nine digs and three blocks. Senior Isaac Kneubuhl added 19 kills (.170), nine digs and a pair of aces and Kevin McKniff played well in the middle with 15 kills (.565), four blocks and a career-high five digs. The Matadors were without the services of middle blocker Cody Loe who missed the match with an injury.

Northridge senior setter Travis Bluemling also had a good night registering a career-best 71 assists to go with nine digs and three blocks while Ali'i Keohohou and Mike Gaudino each posted a career-high in digs with 20 and 18 respectively.

For Hawai'i, Brennon Dyer led four hitters in double figures with 18 kills (.216). Jacob Schkud added 12 (.091) and Joshua Walker (.054) and Keali'i Frank (.643) each added 10. Warrior libero Ric Cervantes posted an MPSF rally scoring era (since 2001) record 28 digs in the loss.

The first two games were both see-saw affairs as both teams held leads but by never more than four points. Northridge led by three twice in game one, the last at 29-26 before kills from Walker and Schkud got Hawai'i within one at 29-28. But the Matadors got a kill from Kneubuhl and took game one 30-28.

In game two, took a 13-9 lead following a Gaudino service error (one of 34 for the Matadors in the match) before the Matadors battled back to tie the score 13-13 following a Dyer hitting error. Northridge then held brief leads of 15-14 and 16-15 before the Warriors took back the lead and held it until 26-25 when a Vance kill followed by a Vance solo block gave the Matadors a 27-26 lead. Northridge then had two chances to go up two games but Hawai'i held firm and took the lead 32-31 after Kneubuhl hit long. Next it was the Warriors who squandered five game points before the Matadors reclaimed the lead 38-37 on a Vance kill. Hawai'i staved off two more game points and then cashed in on its third attempt as a Frank kill followed by a Brennon-Frank block on Kneubuhl evened the match at one game apiece. The second game proved to be the longest in the MPSF this season and the second highest point total in league history after the 45-43 affair between the Matadors and Pepperdine in 2007.

Hawai'i looked to take control of game three by running off three straight points with the score knotted at 19-19. Northridge battled back to tie the score three times and eventually took a 26-25 lead only to see the Warriors claim five straight points to steal the frame 30-26.

Not willing to see their win streak come to an end, the Matadors rebounded by holding Hawai'i to a .121 hitting clip in leading start to finish in game four. After jumping out to an 8-3 lead Northridge's lead was never less than three the rest of the way.

Then in the decisive game five, the Matadors trailed just once at 5-4 and held on despite nearly giving up a three-point cushion.

Article courtesy of Cal State Northridge athletics.

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