March 5, 2008
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - The No. 13 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team lost its fourth straight match Wednesday as third-ranked Cal State Northridge handed the Gauchos a 3-1 defeat at the Matadome. Northridge, which had four players with 10 or more kills, has won its last nine matches.
CSUN (15-4, 11-3 MPSF) won the opening game 30-25. UCSB (7-11, 5-9 MPSF) came back to take game two by the same score, but the Matadors hit almost .600 over games three and four to take 30-17 and 30-23 wins.
The Matadors held advantages in almost every statistical category including kills (71-51), attack percentage (.340-.286), service aces (11-1), and digs (47-37). The Gauchos out-blocked Northridge 12 to 9.
Santa Barbara was led by middle blocker Theo Brunner, who registered 14 kills and hit .650. Freshman opposite Jeff Menzel had 13 kills, while middle Matt Thobe set new career highs with six kills, seven blocks, and 9.5 points. Libero Ben Brockman totaled 13 digs.
For CSUN, outside hitter Isaac Kneubuhl led all players with 22 kills, matching his career high. Outside Eric Vance got his third double-double of the season with 19 kills and 10 digs. Middle blocker Cody Loe had 14 kills and outside hitter Mike Gaudino added 11. All four hit over .300, with Kneubuhl and Gaudino coming in over .400.
Gaudino and Vance were hot at the service line as well, posting four aces each. Ali'i Keohohou had a match best 14 digs.
With game one tied at 3-3, the Matadors won 12 of the next 16 points to take a 15-7 lead. UCSB got back to within two points four times, the last coming at 27-25. A Gaucho attack error and two Matador kills gave Northridge the 30-25 victory.
UCSB started strong in the second game and ended up hitting .441 in the frame. The Gauchos led for much of the game, which saw the score tied 14 times. With the score knotted at 24-24, UCSB took a timeout and came back to the floor to score two straight points on a Brunner kill and a triple block by Thobe, Vince DeVany, and Mike Runkle. After a Menzel put UCSB up 28-25, the Matadors took a timeout. After the break, the Gauchos put the game away via a Northridge hitting error and another kill from Menzel.
Games three and four were owned by the Matadors. After hitting .130 in game one and .194 in game two, they turned it up several notches and hit .600 in the third frame and .588 in the fourth.
Northridge got off to an early 5-1 lead in the third game and never looked back. It was the same story in the final set as the Matadors never trailed in the game. Four straight points on a Gaucho service error and three consecutive aces by Vance put CSUN up 23-15. From there, Santa Barbara closed the gap to four on two occasions, the last at 26-22 following a kill by Menzel. Vance had three kills the rest of the way to ice the win for the Matadors.
CSUN has defeated UCSB three times this season, but the Gauchos own a 42-30 lead in the all-time series.
Tonight's match was the final of four consecutive road contests for UCSB. The Gauchos host USC on March 12 and Pepperdine on March 15. Both matches are set for 7 p.m. starts at Robertson Gymnasium.
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