Waves Win, Tie for First in Final MPSF Standings
April 12, 2014
MALIBU, Calif. – The #2 Pepperdine men’s volleyball team defeated #9 Hawaii 3-1 on Senior Night, and in doing so ended the regular season in a tie for first place in the MPSF with #3 BYU. The Waves will enter the MPSF Tournament as the No. 2 seed and will host seventh-seeded Long Beach State on April 19.
Pepperdine concludes the regular season with an 18-6 record, all league matches, with the 19-25, 28-26, 25-18, 26-24 victory. It is the first time the Waves have concluded the regular season atop the MPSF standings since 2007 and sixth overall. Although Pepperdine is tied with BYU, the Cougars hold the tiebreaker over the Waves and will be the top-seeded team in the league tournament.
Prior to the match, Pepperdine Athletics recognized seniors Kyle Gerrans (Los Gatos, Calif./Valley Christian HS), Leonardo Granato (Reseda, Calif./Pierce College) and Ryan Plueger (Los Angeles, Calif./Harvard-Westlake), alongside their families.
“There’s a saying, ‘You’re only as good as your seniors,’ said head coach Marv Dunphy after the match. “That doesn’t necessarily mean they are King Kong out there. All three add an element of class to this program.”
Dunphy continued with a few special words about Plueger: “I have never had a player who is a better teammate than Ryan. He is mature beyond his years and has been ever since he arrived. I’ve never coached a better person. Period.”
Although Pepperdine had defeated Hawaii in straight sets on Friday night, the Rainbow Warriors proved this evening they weren’t going down without a fight. UH struck first and forced the Waves to play catchup for a good part of the match before succumbing to a season-ending defeat.
“Give Hawaii credit, they served really well start to finish and had us on our heels,” continued Dunphy.
While the Rainbow Warriors were in a must-win situation in order to keep their playoff hopes alive (also reliant on a UCLA loss, which was not realized) the Waves were also hungry for the win and needed it to secure the No. 2 seed over Stanford. A loss tonight would have relegated the Waves back to third place in the standings behind the Cardinal in one of the closest MPSF races in recent years.
Dunphy’s men handled the pressure with ease.
“The hardest thing any coach has to do is to get their players to train at the level they need to in order to be good,” explained the veteran coach. “That is the only pressure I’ve ever felt. And then either you’re good enough or you’re not. It’s about the process and these guys have trained well.”
Proving that training hard in practice translates into “being good enough” was Josh Taylor (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou School), who led the Waves with 18 kills tonight. His 16th of the match was career kill No. 1,000 for the junior. He is now just the 18th Pepperdine student-athlete to reach the milestone.
J.J. Mosolf (Saugus, Calif./Hart HS/Hawaii), playing in place of the injured Parker Kalmbach (Coto de Caza, Calif./Tesoro HS), played like he’s been starting all season long and earned his career-first double double. He tagged down 12 kills and finished the night with 10 digs.
“You want to be your best when the best is need,” said Dunphy of his reserve.
Gerrans was the third Pepperdine player to reach double figures in kills, tallying 12 to go along with his five blocks on Senior Night.
Although Hawaii hit at a respectable .328 (58 kills-20 errors-116 attempts) attack percentage, the Waves trumped that with a .356 (57-15-118) clip.
It was a tug of war in the opening frame, as both teams battled for control. Hawaii produced a stellar service game, however, and with it was able to take the set 25-19.
The Waves dug themselves into a four point hole in set two and were forced to play catch up for most of the frame. Although a Taylor ace gave Pepperdine its first lead at 16-15, Hawaii pieced together a 4-1 run to retake the advantage 19-17 and force a timeout. After the Waves knotted the score up at 21-all, Tarantino took over at the service line.
After forcing an overpass that translated into a Taylor kill, Tarantino dished an ace to lift the home squad to a two point lead, 23-21. Hawaii was able to fight off three set points, and then Sinisa Zarkovic came through with a timely ace to tip the scales in the Bows’ favor. Another tough serve was handled nicely by Gerrans and Mosolf sided out with a kill.
Gerrans terminated a ball to set up set point No. 4, and then capitalized with another kill on a second chance opportunity to clinch the frame 28-26.
The Malibu Roofing Company took over in set three, out blocking the Rainbow Warriors 5.0-1.0 en route to the 25-18 triumph.
The fourth set proved to be another barn burner. Tied for the 14th time at 24-24, Sedore sailed an attack long to give Pepperdine match point. Taylor took full advantage, putting down career kill No. 1002 to clinch the match 26-24.
The MPSF Tournament begins next week Saturday, April 19, with the top four seeds hosting the bottom four seeds. The top remaining seed after the quarterfinals will host the semifinals and finals on April 24 and 26. First round match-ups include #8 USC at #1 BYU, #7 Long Beach State at #2 Pepperdine, #5 UCLA at #4 UC Santa Barbara and #6 UC Irvine at #3 Stanford.