Third-Ranked Northridge Receives a Helping Hand in Victory Over Pepperdine

TIMES STAFF WRITER

With a boisterous contingent of visiting fans giving Cal State Northridge a home-court advantage at Pepperdine's Firestone Fieldhouse, the third-ranked Matadors downed the fourth-ranked Waves, 17-15, 13-15, 15-9, 15-12, Tuesday night in a Western Intercollegiate Volleyball Assn. match.

Although the Waves still lead the WIVA's DeGroot Division by virtue of playing four more WIVA matches than the Matadors, Northridge drew within one game of the Waves in divisional play.

Northridge (12-6, 6-2 in the WIVA) increased its win streak to four matches and has won 11 of its last 14.

The Waves fell to 9-3 in the WIVA, 17-3 overall.

In the fourth game, momentum changed constantly as fatigue took its toll on both teams, particularly on defense.

Many points were long and characterized by scrambling, diving plays, out of bounds, into the stands, through team benches and to the wall.

"We played with a lot of heart and a lot of emotion," Northridge All-American Coley Kyman said. "We really wanted to win it. We came together when we needed to."

Kyman made several of his 22 kills in the final game.

"I tell everyone, when you need me to out the ball down I will," Kyman said. "I'd like to think I'm a clutch player."

The Matadors built a 5-1 lead, saw it evaporate, then rallied for an 8-5 advantage, but Pepperdine would not wilt and stayed within two points as the scores climbed into the teens.

With Northridge leading, 13-12, Ken Lynch's kill gave the Matadors the serve and the Alon Grinberg's kill attempt was long, giving Northridge its 14th point. On match point, Greg Weaver and Jamal Thompson blocked Grinberg's kill for the final point.

"This is huge," Northridge Coach John Price said. "To beat them at their place. We've got to take care of business Thursday and Friday (at Brigham Young) and if we do that then we go home for four matches and we're in great shape."

Axel Hagar, a 6-foot-7 junior outside hitter from Hamburg, Germany, who ranks seventh nationally in aces, delivered an ace for the 13th point in the final game and led the Matadors with 29 kills and 10 digs.

"They were trying to shut down Coley and Ken (Lynch) was off a bit, so Axel bailed us out a lot," Price said.

Lynch finished with 22 kills and five digs.

In the first game, the Matadors showed the effects of a 10-day layoff following their upset of No. 1-ranked, defending NCAA champion Cal State Long Beach.

Inconsistency cost them a 3-0 lead and they eventually fell behind, 9-5.

Hagar gave them a spark with a first-hit kill for the Matadors' sixth point. Following a sideout, Northridge scored four consecutive points on a pair of kills by Greg Weaver and two epperdine kill attempts which soared out-of-bounds.

Pepperdine tied it, 15-15, with a block of Lynch's kill attempt, but the Matadors wrapped it up with a block by Lynch and Thompson for the 16th point and a block on game point by Thompson and Hagar of Sorenson's kill attempt.

Pepperdine won the second game but Northridge took a 10-6 lead in the third game and closed out the match with a flurry of point-scoring blocks.

Thompson finished with a team-high eight blocks after replacing middle blocker Craig Hewitt midway through the first game. Hewitt suffered a left ankle injury when he collided with Hagar on a block attempt.

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