Cal State Northridge seems to be peaking at just the right time. Getting timely hitting from Oliver Heitmann, Craig Hewitt and Jason Hughes, the Matadors swept the San Diego State Aztecs, 15-13, 15-11, 15-11, Saturday night in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation interdivision match at CSUN.
The victory, the Matadors' third in a row and fifth in six matches, kept Northridge (13-8, 9-6 in conference play) two games behind second-place Brigham Young in the MPSF Mountain Division standings.
The top three teams in each division, plus the two remaining teams with the best records, regardless of division, advance to the postseason tournament.
Northridge, which has swept its last two opponents, has four matches remaining--two at home, and two on the road.
"We're definitely on a roll," Northridge Coach John Price said. "We kind of gave a match away last week against Hawaii or we'd be 6-0 (in our last six matches). No matter what kind of roll you get on now, it's not enough come playoff time."
The Matadors, who defeated San Diego State in four tough games at the Asics tournament earlier this year, were expecting a strong effort from the Aztecs (14-9, 8-7), who entered the match in third place in the MPSF Pacific Division.
But the Aztecs, who held brief leads in all three games, never led after a game reached eight points.
"Three-and-oh, that's deceiving sometimes. It can be a lot tougher than some five-game matches," Price said. "I wasn't comfortable in any of the three games.
"We seemed to get a lead every time, and they came back every time. I don't think we ever dominated."
San Diego State led, 7-5, in the first game, but Northridge scored six of the next seven points to take an 11-8 lead. The Aztecs tied the score, 11-11, but the Matadors pulled away and won when freshman Nick Pabarcus hit wide cross-court at game point.
Northridge fell behind, 4-1, in the second game, but rallied behind Heitmann to win 10 of the next 11 points and take an 11-5 lead. The Aztecs got as close as 13-11 before the Matadors won on a dink by Hewitt to an empty midcourt.
Northridge pulled away from an 8-8 tie in the final game and won on a smash by Heitmann down the middle.
Heitmann, who had 10 kills in the first game and 12 in the second, finished with a match-high 31.
Hewitt, who finished with a .586 hitting percentage, had 20 kills and seven digs, and Hughes added 17 kills and seven digs.