#4 Pepperdine Knocks Off #2 UC Irvine
March 12, 2013
MALIBU, Calif. – The #4 Pepperdine men’s volleyball team upset #2 UC Irvine to open the week inside Firestone Fieldhouse. Leading the offense was Maurice Torres with 22 kills, while Ryan Plueger paced the defense with a career-high 16 digs.
The four-set match played out incredibly close from start to finish, with three of the four sets being decided by just two points. The score was tied 44 times, while the lead exchanged hands on 18 occasions. Final scores were 26-28, 25-23, 26-24, 25-20.
“I thought we played progressively better as the night went on,” said head coach Marv Dunphy, now in his 30th season at the helm. “We got some digs in the beginning that we weren’t able to capitalize on, but we started to put those plays away as the match continued.
“Overall I am very pleased with their performance.”
The Waves move to 11-6 overall and 10-6 in MPSF action, while the Anteaters fall to 16-5 and 13-5 in conference play. As of Tuesday night, that puts the teams in fourth and third place in the MPSF standings, respectively.
Torres (Riverside, Calif./Orange Lutheran HS) surpassed the 20-kills milestone for the sixth time this season with a match-high 22 put aways. The senior also tallied his third double-double in 2013 with 11 digs.
Ryan Plueger (Los Angeles, Calif./Harvard-Westlake) extended his career best to 16 digs after a stand-out performance tonight. The Waves collectively picked up a season-high 51 digs to provide plenty of offensive opportunities to terminate the ball.
Making the most of those opportunities was Parker Kalmbach (Coto de Caza, Calif./Tesoro HS), who notched 12 kills off of just 18 attempts for a final hitting percentage of .611 (12 kills-1 errors-18 attempts). Josh Taylor (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou School) also provided a boost with 10 kills and eight digs.
Matt West (Seattle, Wash./Shorewood HS) effectively managed the Waves’ offense, handing out 51 assists while collected 11 digs on the defensive end.
Nikola Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson HS) made his presence known at the net with a career-high nine rejections.
Pepperdine finished the night hitting .273 (61-26-128), while UCI hit at a .222 (48-20-126) clip. Kevin Tillie tallied 15 kills to lead the Anteaters, followed by Connor Hughes with 13.
The Waves’ defense was impenetrable in the first frame and Pepperdine opened the match with three-straight points – all off of blocks. UC Irvine got back in the match after Jeremy Dejno served his team to a 5-0 run to give the visitors a 13-12 lead. The score would tie up 13 more times, and the Waves would kill off three set points, but the Anteaters took advantage of a pair of ill-timed Pepperdine errors to secure the set 28-26.
The momentum seemed to carry over in the second frame, and UCI sprinted out to a 7-3 lead. A 5-0 run put the control back on Pepperdine’s side, albeit not for long. The back-and-forth set came to a head at 19-all, when a Taylor ace followed by a Torres kill tipped the scales in the home team’s favor 21-19. The small amount of separation was enough, and the Waves sided out their way to a 25-23 triumph.
The Anteaters once again took the early lead in the third stanza, only to see the Waves battle back from behind. Tied at 24, Beau Vandeweghe (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon HS) pounded down a kill, followed by another put away courtesy of Taylor to take the set 26-24.
Vandeweghe came off the bench in set two and finished the night with six kills, three digs and a block.
UCI controlled tempo early on in set four, fighting to force a fifth frame. Down 5-9, Pepperdine’s defense cashed in on some timely blocks to provide the energy the home team needed to get back into the set. Still down 14-17, the Waves score five unanswered points to take over the lead and tip the momentum back in their favor. Pepperdine couldn’t be touched after that, and closed out the fourth set 25-20 to clinch the match.
Overall, the Waves held a 13-11 advantage in blocks and out-dug their opponent 51-35.
Next up, Pepperdine hosts to UC San Diego on Friday, March 15 at 7 p.m. inside Firestone Fieldhouse. The match will be broadcast live and for free on WaveCasts.