Waves Take Down Defending NCAA Champion UC Irvine in Season Opener
Jan. 10, 2014
MALIBU, Calif. – In the first official match of the 2014 season, the #6 Pepperdine men’s volleyball team took down two-time defending NCAA champion and #3-ranked UC Irvine 3-1 on Friday evening inside Firestone Fieldhouse. The Waves’ offensive assault was led by junior outside hitter Josh Taylor, who led the match with 24 kills.
The Waves improve to 35-8 all-time in season-opening matches, including a 28-1 mark when playing inside Firestone Fieldhouse. With the 25-21, 25-21, 23-25, 25-19 loss, the Anteaters fall to 3-2 overall and 0-1 in MPSF action.
Taylor (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou School) not only averaged 6.00 kills per set in tonight’s contest, he swung at impressive .486 (24 kills-6 errors-37 attempts) clip.
Parker Kalmbach (Coto de Caza, Calif./Tesoro HS) was just as solid, earning his career-high 18 kills off of a .469 (18-3-32) hitting percentage.
Overall the Waves (1-0, 1-0 MPSF) limited the attack errors and finish the night hitting .378 (62-17-119) as a team. Although UC Irvine made just two fewer attack attempts during the match, they struggled to put the ball away and ended the night with just 49 kills compared to the Waves’ 62.
“I’ve been doing this for a few years and you really have to go one at a time,” said 31-year veteran coach Marv Dunphy on tonight’s victory. “Every time we play is a test at where we are in that point in time. We are playing forward. We have to be ready tomorrow (for the match vs. UC San Diego).
"I thought we came up with some balls on off plays and we bettered the ball on quite a few of those plays,” continued Dunphy. “We had some swings in transition and came up with some big kills.”
Matt West (Seattle, Wash./Shorewood HS) and Brennan Anderson (Newport Beach, Calif./Corona Del Mar HS/Ohio State) certainly did their part to keep the ball alive on Pepperdine’s side of the net. West led the match with 12 digs followed by Anderson with 10.
Overall the Waves out-dug UCI 44-29 to create plenty of opportunities to put the ball away.
West, a 2013 AVCA All-American, added 51 assists, three blocks, three kills and an ace to his stat line in his first match of the year.
At the net, Nikola Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson HS) was credited with eight blocks.
Pepperdine never trailed in the opening set en route to the 25-21 win. Up 21-19, Max States (Honolulu, Hawaii/Solimar Academy) came in off the bench to offer serving support. States took full advantage and dished an ace in his first official serve as a collegiate student-athlete. He served the Waves to set point and Taylor pounded home his sixth kill of the frame to secure victory.
Pepperdine was forced to fight from behind in set two. After trailing by as much as four at 5-9, the Waves overtook the lead 16-15 following at Tarantino-West roof. Although the Anteaters sided out for 16-all, another block, this time by Tarantino and Taylor, put the home squad back on top for good. West snuck in a kill to win the stanza 25-21.
UC Irvine avoided the sweep and edged the Waves 25-23 in set three. Despite the setback, Taylor put down an incredulous nine kills in the frame.
The blue and orange opened the fourth set on a 3-0 run and never looked back. Gerrans put the match away, 25-19, with an ace.
Pepperdine continues its opening weekend on Saturday with a 7 p.m. match against UC San Diego. The contest can be watch live and for free on WaveCasts, with Josh Perigo calling the action.