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CS Northridge Falls Victim to UCLA Mastery

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The statistics indicated that Coley Kyman of Cal State Northridge and Scott Herdman of UCLA were the top blockers in Wednesday night’s men’s volleyball match at Pauley Pavilion, with 10 and nine, respectively.

But the most important block of the night was of the mental variety.

Northridge, it seems, has one gigantic mental block when it comes to beating UCLA in volleyball. No matter how good Northridge manages to look in early matchups against the Bruins, it always ends up on the short end of the score when it comes to regular-season play.

UCLA, routed by CSUN in consecutive tournament games only weeks ago, continued its mastery of the Matadors in convincing fashion, defeating Northridge for the 19th consecutive time, 8-15, 15-8, 15-8, 15-8, in a Western Intercollegiate Volleyball Assn. match.

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Technically, it was a mini upset. The Bruins (2-1 overall, 2-0 in WIVA play) came in ranked fourth in the nation and the Matadors (5-2, 2-1) were ranked third.

Northridge wore the favorite’s role well in the early going as Kyman took control of the net and UCLA hit an abysmal .060 in the first game.

This, however, has happened on several other occasions during CSUN’s losing streak--like last season at UCLA, when the Matadors won the first game and were pulling away in second before somebody pulled the plug.

True to form, the teams switched roles at a similar point Wednesday. But CSUN Coach John Price was at a loss to explain why.

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“There’s a little more pressure on us because we’ve never beaten these guys,” he said. “There probably are all kinds of reasons I could give, but the bottom line is that good teams win this kind of match.

“We had opportunities, even in the last three games. We just didn’t take advantage.”

After hitting at a .243 clip in the first game, Northridge fell off to percentages of .175, .071 and .208 in the final three.

UCLA’s Tim Kelly, a 6-foot-10 redshirt freshman, was particularly effective both at the net and on the back row, finishing with 13 kills, six blocks and three digs.

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Neil Coffman of Northridge had a match-high 23 kills, but he hit for a season-low percentage of .196. Kyman had 16 kills but likewise hit for an unusually low percentage, .176.

Kelly said the key for UCLA was stopping those Northridge players in particular.

“That’s who everyone knew we had to stop,” he said. “If you stop those two, they’re terrible. They don’t pass for . . . so all you have to do is stop those two.”

Kelly received help up front from Carl Henkel, who had nine block-assists, and Mike Sealy, who had six block-assists and three solo blocks.

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Still, CSUN setter Matt Unger said the Bruins blocking up front was not the problem. He blamed poor passing by Northridge on short serves by UCLA.

“We played so well the first game and then the second game we were never even close,” Unger said. “I thought we could come back, but we never did. We never sided out well enough after that.”

After a horrible hitting performance in the first game, the Bruins rebounded to hit .278 as a team. Henkel led the Bruins with 16 kills and Rich Bland had 14.

The victory vaulted the Bruins into first place in the WIVA’s DeGroot Division, a half-game in front of Northridge. The teams will meet again, March 30, at CSUN.

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“It’s not a devastating loss other than we really wanted to win,” Price said. “It’s still early and we get another shot at them at our place. We just wanted them so bad . . . . definitely more than normal.”


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