UC Irvine Edges Pepperdine in Five Games
MALIBU, Calif. - Past success in fifth games played no part as the #11 UC Irvine men's volleyball team spoiled #2 Pepperdine's home finale on Saturday with a 19-30, 30-24, 30-28, 26-30, 19-17 victory in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play.
In conference matches only prior to Saturday, the Waves (14-7, 12-6) were 4-0 in fifth games, while the Anteaters (12-13, 7-11) were 0-7. With MPSF-leading Stanford's loss at Cal State Northridge on Friday, Pepperdine missed an opportunity to remain tied with the Cardinal atop the standings.
The Anteaters fought off three match points to tie the fifth game at 17-17, and Carson Clark put UCI ahead with a kill after a marathon point that saw multiple chances for both sides. UCI then claimed the match on a Pepperdine attack that went wide for a hitting error.
Senior outside hitter J.D. Schleppenbach (Ventura, Calif./Ventura HS) and freshman opposite Maurice Torres (Riverside, Calif./Orange Lutheran HS) led Pepperdine with 17 kills apiece. Junior outside hitter Cory Riecks (Auburn, Calif./Placer HS) had 16 and senior middle blocker Rodnei Santos (Sao Paulo, Brazil/BYU) added 11.
Junior setter Kasey Crider (Granite Bay, Calif./Granite Bay HS) had a double-double with 74 assists and 10 digs, while senior libero Sean Grubbs (Newport Beach, Calif./Irvine Valley CC) also contributed 10 digs.
Junior middle blocker Tyler Jaynes (Granite Bay, Calif./Granite Bay HS) had eight kills and a match-high seven blocks. Senior outside hitter Brent Schirripa (Los Angeles, Calif./Crespi Carmelite HS) came off the bench to record nine kills on 11 errorless swings.
UCI, which was outhit .353 to .336, got 24 kills apiece from Clark and Jordan DuFault. The Anteaters had advantages of 12.5-10.0 in blocks and 7-4 in service aces.
The Waves could do little wrong in the first game and never trailed. A 5-0 run that Schleppenbach began with a kill and ended with a service ace made the score 8-2. Another 5-0 run that included a kill and two blocks by Jaynes made it a double-digit lead at 16-6. The Waves closed out the game from there, with Riecks collecting a game-high seven kills, including on three of Pepperdine's final four points. The Waves had a .485-.167 hitting edge.
UCI followed the same formula to win the second game, as the Anteaters never trailed and broke out to an 8-2 lead behind three early kills by DuFault. The Waves closed within two points at 12-10 after a kill by Schleppenbach, but the Anteaters scored four straight points, two on service aces by Clark. UCI maintained at least a four-point lead the rest of the way and ended the game on an ace by Austin D'Amore. The Anteaters had a .276-.258 hitting advantage behind DuFault's seven kills.
Game three was tied 8-8 when the Anteaters took the lead for good after a kill by Kevin Wynne and a Wave hitting error. UCI's lead grew to six, first at 21-15 and last at 25-19. Without many points to spare, the Waves were able to chip away at the lead. After already fighting off two game points and down 29-28, Pepperdine had a chance to tie it, but an attack went inches long, giving UCI a 2-1 lead. Both teams hit well, with UCI holding a .450-.412 edge.
Pepperdine battled back to win the fourth game and tie the match at 2-2. Tied 8-8, the Waves scored four straight to go ahead to stay, and they later went ahead 18-11 after a block by Crider and Santos. Though UCI would eventually pull within two points at 28-26, the Waves finished the game with a block by Jaynes and Torres, followed by a Schleppenbach service ace. The Waves hit .387 to the Anteaters' .318.
The Waves had six attack errors in the fifth game and hit just .185 to UCI's .450. The first four games combined had seven ties and two lead changes, while the fifth game alone had 11 ties and six lead changes. The Anteaters never led by more than two points, while the Waves never led by more than one.
The Waves play their final four regular-season matches on the road, beginning with a big contest at #1 Stanford on Friday (April 9) at 7 p.m. The Waves then visit Pacific on Saturday (April 10) at 7 p.m.