Gauchos Fall Just Short Against Cal State Northridge

Chad Kingi (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Chad Kingi (Photo by Tony Mastres)

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. — A late fifth game surge from the No. 11 CSUN Matadors proved to be the deciding factor in a tightly contested win over the No. 9 Gauchos at the Matadome on Friday night. Trailing 11-9 in the decisive set, the Matadors stampeded their way to four straight points and a commanding 13-11 lead. From there, the teams would trade sideout points to a CSUN victory.

The Gauchos (3-2, 1-1 MPSF) loss — their first since the opening match of the season— snapped a three match winning streak. UCSB is now 0-2 in five set matches through the first week of the season. Cal State Northridge improved to 1-1 with the victory.

Game scores for the match went 25-16, 16-25, 25-20, 21-25, 15-13.

The Gauchos were led by sophomore outside hitter Austin Kingi, who finished with 15 kills and seven digs. His brother, libero Chad, anchored the UCSB defense, leading all players with 14 digs.

Freshman setter Jonah Seif continued his impressive early season form, racking up 50 assists and 12 digs for his first career double-double. In limited action, sophomore outside hitter Weston Nielsen maintained his strong play with seven kills and a .455 hitting percentage in two sets. Freshman middle blocker Ryan Hardy recovered from a slight dip in performance against Long Beach State with nine kills and a .500 hitting percentage. Though he had one of his more forgettable attacking nights, senior middle blocker Dylan Davis did lead the Gauchos in blocks with four.

Though the Gauchos outhit and outdug the Matadors, the home team had a clear advantage in the serving and blocking categories. Cal State Northridge accrued 11 aces to the Gauchos four, and also beat them at the net with 11.0 blocks compared to 6.0 blocks. CSUN setter Travis Magorien led all players with three aces, but seven different Matadors were able to claim an ace.

CSUN's offense was led by Brandon LeBrock, who had a match-high 19 kills, including back-to-back kills in the fifth game which sparked CSUN's decisive rally. Jared Moore led the middles with six blocks, two of which were solo.

After a grueling week in which the Gauchos played five matches, UCSB will play just one match next week, as they host the UCLA Bruins at Rob Gym on Friday night. Tickets for that match can be purchased online here.