Ninth-ranked UCLA came up short in a hard-fought five set match played on Thursday night at Cal State Northridge. Scores of the MPSF contest were 22-25, 25-19, 26-28, 25-16, 21-23. UCLA is now 15-10 on the year and 12-9 in league action.
The Bruins outhit the Matadors .433 to .336 and outblocked the home team 11.0 to 4.5 but came up short on the scoreboard. CSUN did win the service game nine aces to four.
In set one, UCLA gained a little separation in a back-and-forth battle with three straight kills from Jake Reeves, Gonzalo Quiroga and Mitch Stahl to take a 13-11 lead. The score was then tied at points 14 through 16. The Matadors strung some points together to go in front 18-21. A Spencer Rowe kill put the Bruins down two at 19-21, but it was as close as they would come. CSUN captured the first set 22-25 after a UCLA service error.
The Bruins ran out to a 5-1 advantage in set two. Northridge battled back to even the score at nine-all. A couple of Quiroga kills made it 12-10 UCLA. The Bruins held a 16-12 edge after a Robart Page tally and went on to win the set 25-19.
The Matadors owned the early lead in set three at 3-6. UCLA tied the set at 10 following a kill from Mitch Stahl and enjoyed a 15-13 cushion after a Trent Kersten kill. Rowe’s kill tied the score at 18-all. The Bruins took a 23-22 lead on a kill by Quiroga and a 24-23 edge after a Page blast, but could not put down the winning point. CSUN rallied to come away with a 26-28 decision.
UCLA had an 8-6 lead after a Page kill in set four. The Bruins still owned an 11-7 gap on a Stahl kill. Three straight swings for points by Rowe resulted in a 19-12 advantage and the Bruins went on to force a fifth set with a 25-16 win.
Northridge broke a 3-3 tie with five straight points for a 3-8 lead in set five. UCLA narrowed the margin to 8-10 following a Matador service error. A pair of Quiroga blasts made it 10-12 and the Bruins were able to level the score at 13 on a Rowe ace. UCLA took a 14-13 lead on a CSUN attack error, but lost the edge on a service error. A Rowe kill made it 15-14 for the Bruins, but the Matadors were able to fight off a match point and level the score at 15-all. UCLA then battled to stave off match points at 15-16, 16-17 and 17-18. A Kersten kill evened the set at 18s. Kersten and Rowe teammed up on a block to give UCLA another look at the match, but Northridge quickly tied the score at 19s. A Quiroga kill swept away a CSUN match point at 19-20, but a Matador service error helped the Bruins level the score at 21s. The home team then put down two straight balls for a 21-23 win.
Rowe topped UCLA with a career-best 24 kills while hitting .525. Quiroga collected 17 kills and added an ace. Setter Steve O’Dell totaled 55 set assists and team high totals in digs (9) and blocks (6). Page added 10 kills and hit .529.
UCLA will play next at Long Beach State (Sat.) before returning home to host Cal Baptist on Apr. 10 in Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins host No. 2 BYU on Saturday, Apr. 12 in the Wooden Center.