Waves Defeat Long Beach State in MPSF Tournament Quarterfinals
April 19, 2014
MALIBU, Calif. - The #2 Pepperdine men's volleyball team punched its ticket into the MPSF Tournament semifinals following tonight's 3-1 win over #7 Long Beach State inside Firestone Fieldhouse. After falling behind a set, the Waves fought off two set points to win the second frame 26-24. The home squad would go on to close out the match in four.
With the 22-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-20 triumph, Pepperdine brings a 19-6 overall record into next week Thursday's semifinal vs. third-seeded Stanford in Provo, Utah.
Home court advantage proved to be the deciding factor in all four of tonight's quarterfinals. Fourth-seeded UC Santa Barbara outlasted No. 5 UCLA 15-12 in set five, while No. 3 Stanford held off sixth-seeded UC Irvine's upset bid 15-13 in the fifth. Top-seeded BYU bounced USC 3-0 tonight, and will host next week's semifinal and final inside the Smith Fieldhouse.
For the first time this season, Kyle Gerrans (Los Gatos, Calif./Valley Christian HS) paced Pepperdine in kills with a career-high 17. The senior pounded home six kills in the first frame alone before settling into his rhythm. It was his final match inside Firestone Fieldhouse.
"Steady Eddie," said head coach Marv Dunphy describing his senior outside hitter. "I thought there was a point when Kyle tried to do too much, but he figured things out and got some key kills for us."
Josh Taylor (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou School) finished the night with 14 to go along with his seven digs and four blocks, while Matt Tarantino (Van Nuys, Calif./Bishop Alemany) also reached double figures in kills with an even 10.
Matt West (Seattle, Wash./Shorewood HS), now a two-time All-MPSF first team selection following Thursday's all-conference announcement, distributed 44 assists, leading the Waves to a .239 (57 kills-23 errors-142 attempts) hitting percentage.
"I think Matt West is a good player, continued Dunphy. "He was pretty good when he came in, but to his credit he is getting better."
West also helped out on the defensive side with nine digs and three blocks.
Middle blocker Nikola Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson HS) earned a team-high six blocks at the net, while Brennan Anderson (Newport Beach, Calif./Corona Del Mar HS/Ohio State) and J.J. Mosolf (Saugus, Calif./Hart HS/Hawaii) eclipsed double figures in digs with 14 and 10, respectively.
After Pepperdine jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the opening frame, Long Beach State hit its stride and surged forward to overtake the advantage 13-9. The Waves would be forced to play catchup the rest of the way and found themselves down set point 16-24. After a Pepperdine sideout, 49er attacker Cody Martin appeared to have clinched the set with a kill. As the teams began switching sides, the play was overturned, citing Martin with an illegal back row attack. With new life, the Waves score six-straight points - including three off the block - to come back within two 22-24. After the second Long Beach State timeout during the run, the visiting squad finally got the sideout they needed, but not after Pepperdine stole a good amount of the momentum.
Set two was a close battle, but tied at 14, Long Beach State pieced together a 4-0 run to take the timely advantage. Although the Waves knotted the frame up at 20, the 49ers pushed ahead again to take a 24-22 lead. After Gerrans disposed of a kill for the crucial sideout, a long rally that featured a big-time Taylor dig ended with a Mosolf put away.
With the crowd behind them, Pepperdine forced back-to-back attack errors and took the stanza 26-24.
"I think game two really was the key tonight," said Dunphy. "The margins are so narrow at this level and there's not a lot that separates the teams. Long Beach State is a really good team. Everyone played hard tonight."
Aside from a brief one point deficit in the opening plays of set three, the Waves would not trail again, although the 49ers always lingered close behind.
After Long Beach State made a comeback of their own at match point in set four, similar to Pepperdine's in the opening stanza, Gerrans cashed in on match point No. 3 with his career-best 17th kill of the match. The senior's previous collegiate best was set at 16.
NCAA kills leader Taylor Crabb helped his average tonight with 5.00 per set for an even 20. Andrew Sato, son of former Pepperdine coach Gary Sato, picked up a match high 17 digs.
The Waves, the No. 2 seed, must now contend with Stanford, the only MPSF team they have yet to earn a win against in 2014, on Thursday in Provo, Utah. The Cardinal is riding a 12 match win streak, but Pepperdine is 16-7 at the conference tournament when playing as the higher seed.