#5 Waves Remain Undefeated at Home, Top #1 BYU in Five Sets
Feb. 15, 2013
MALIBU, Calif. – The #5 Pepperdine men’s volleyball team’s mental toughness was on display on Friday night against top-ranked BYU. The Waves overcame the loss of a starter and a late Cougar comeback effort to battle their way to a five-set victory.
Pepperdine, now 7-4 overall and in conference play in 2013, is a perfect 5-0 when playing inside Firestone Fieldhouse.
Although the Waves got off to an incredible start, and won the first two sets 25-13, 25-22, the Cougars (8-3, 7-2 MPSF) got themselves back in the match with 25-23, 25-22 triumphs in the third and fourth stanzas. Pepperdine dug deep in the deciding frame, and won 15-9 to tally its 17th win in program history over a #1-ranked opponent.
The Waves suffered a major blow in the second set when Kyle Gerrans (Los Gatos, Calif./Valley Christian HS) went down and exited the match. Sophomore Scott Rhein (Pleasant View, Tenn./Aaron Academy) stepped up in his absence and contributed a season-high nine kills and tied-for-career high five blocks.
Maurice Torres (Riverside, Calif./Orange Lutheran HS) and Josh Taylor (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou School) provided an effective one-two offensive punch. Torres led all hitters with a season-high 23 kills and was credited with his second-straight double-double after he picked up 12 digs. Taylor dished 20 kills while hitting .406 (20 kills-7 errors-32 attempts).
“We played tough, Wave volleyball tonight for Kyle,” said Torres following the match. “We knew we had to stay mentally tough, even after losing two sets in a row, because that’s how Kyle would have played.
“Give credit to BYU,” continued Torres, “They have arguably one of the best teams in the country with great guys both on and off the court. They’re a good passing team and good at bouncing back. In the fifth set we just tried to play together as a team, want every point and generate our own energy.”
Overall, the Waves tallied 66 kills while hitting .271 (66-30-133), and the Cougars registered a .168 (45-25-119) clip.
Matt West (Seattle, Wash./Shorewood HS) quarterbacked Pepperdine’s offense with 58 assists. The sophomore recorded eight digs, three blocks and pair of timely fifth-set aces.
The defense was led by middle blockers Parker Kalmbach (Coto de Caza, Calif./Tesoro HS) and Nikola Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson HS), who were credited with seven and six blocks, respectively.
Three players reached double figures in kills for the Cougars, led by Ben Patch with 16. Taylor Sander followed with 11, while Russ Lavaja nailed down 10.
BYU, who has not played a match away from home before tonight, had a difficult time getting its offense going and Pepperdine was quick to take advantage. Gerrans put down a kill on the first point of the match, and the Waves did not trail the entire frame. Up 18-13, Torres killed the ball for the sideout and Taylor served out the set, ending things with an ace.
It was much closer in the second set, as evidence from the 13 tie scores and six lead changes. Tied at 11, Pepperdine went on a 4-2 run to tip the scales in its favor. Although the Cougars knotted things back up at 22, kills from Kalmbach and Torres, as well as a Torres ace secured the set.
BYU came storming back in sets three and four, and while closely contested by the Waves, the Cougars were able to hold on for the wins to force a fifth and final frame.
Although the momentum was seemingly favoring BYU, Pepperdine took a 4-2 lead in the fifth following a kill courtesy of Rhein and a Cougar attack error. The Waves extended their advantage with outstanding defense, while West provided more separation, 12-5, with a pair of aces that grazed the right sideline. While it was Gerrans who logged the first kill of the match, it was Rhein – who came off the bench after Gerrans’ departure – who befittingly nailed home the final kill to clinch the match 15-9.
The last official time Pepperdine defeated a top-ranked team was during the 2007 season, when the Waves swept the Cougars twice at home.
Pepperdine hosts two matches next week, beginning with UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday, Feb. 19. The Waves close the week with a Saturday, Feb. 23 contests against UCLA.