Upset Alert: Waves Taint Top-Ranked USC's Perfect Record in Five-Set Thriller
Feb. 11, 2011
MALIBU, Calif. – Another night inside Firestone Fieldhouse, another down-to-the-wire five set thriller for the #11 Pepperdine men’s volleyball team. The Waves, who have now gone five sets in five contests this season, upset #1 USC by scores of 25-23, 20-25, 23-25, 25-16, 17-15. Pepperdine improves its record to 4-5 overall, and 2-5 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play. The Trojans suffered their first loss of the season, and are now 6-1 overall and in conference action.
“We’ll take all the volleyball we can get,” laughed opposite hitter Maurice Torres (Riverside, Calif./Orange Lutheran HS) when asked about his squad’s tendency to play in long matches this season. “We’re fired up to play and I think that really showed tonight. We started making the plays we needed to, and that gave us the momentum we needed to beat a very talented USC.”
The last time Pepperdine bested a #1-ranked team was on Feb. 5, 2010 when they defeated Cal State Northridge 3-1. Ironically, the Waves were listed at #11 on the AVCA poll when they topped a #1-ranked USC last season as well on Jan. 29, 2010.
Torres led the Waves with 17 kills, while contributing a match-high four aces. The balanced Pepperdine attack also saw Beau Vandeweghe (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon HS) hit a career-high 15 put aways on a .545 hitting percentage. Matt Pollock (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg HS) added 12 on 22 errorless swings, and Cory Riecks (Auburn, Calif./Placer HS) finished the evening with 10. His fifth kill of the match, which occurred early in the third game, was the senior’s 1,000th career kill. He becomes just the 16th Wave to reach the milestone.
“It’s a great feeling of accomplishment to be able to say I reached 1,000 kills,” commented Riecks. “because those 1,000 kills helped my team. For me to reach 1,000 kills means 1,000 good passes were made, and 1,000 good sets came to me. Guys like Matt (Pollock) or Tyler (Jaynes) drew blockers away to give me a better opportunity to put the ball away. All the credit goes to my teammates.”
As a team, the Waves posted a .352 attack percentage while holding the Trojans to a season-low .292 clip. Murphy Troy was the go-to hitter for USC, tallying 29 put aways.
Pepperdine’s intensity shined in the first set, matching the Trojans point-for-point. Neither team was able to gain a large lead the entire game. The score was even on nine occasions, while the lead was exchanged five times. Down 21-23, a Riecks attack was blocked back but kept alive by Pollock and finally put away by Kasey Crider (Granite Bay, Calif./Granite Bay HS). A tandem block by Vandeweghe and Pollock tied the game, before a Trojan attack error put another point on the board for Pepperdine. Crider set up Pollock for a kill to win the first stanza 25-23.
USC charged back with wins in sets two and three thanks in part to a combined 12 put downs courtesy of Troy.
The setback proved insignificant to the Waves’ resolve to win, as they cruised to a 25-16 win in the fourth frame. Pepperdine hit a sizzling .550 attack percentage in the set, compared to a .167 success rate on the USC side of the floor.
After falling behind by as much as three points, Pepperdine rallied back to tie the fifth set at 12. Back-to-back sideouts brought the score to 13-all before an untimely service error gave the Trojans match point. Vandeweghe erased it with a kill, before Troy returned the favor with his ninth kill of the stanza. Torres tied the match at 15 with a put away, before Troy committed an attack error to prompt USC to take a timeout.
Tri Bourne’s attack threatened to tie the match again, but Crider was there to dig the ball up. Pollock set up Riecks who nailed down a kill and secured the victory.
Crider managed the Waves’ offense with 55 assists, while helping defensively with seven digs. Pollock tallied a match-high seven blocks.
The go-to hitters on both sides of the court shined for their teams in the deciding fifth set, with Troy tallying nine of the Trojans 13 kills. Torres delivered five kills on seven swings, with no miscues.
The Waves next match is scheduled for Fri., Feb. 18 when they welcome Pacific to Firestone Fieldhouse, and continues on Sat., Feb. 19 when Pepperdine plays host to Stanford. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.