#2 Waves Face #3 CSUN in MPSF Semifinals
UPCOMING Â There likely wasn’t a closer regular-season series anywhere than the one between the #2 Pepperdine and #3 Cal State Northridge men’s volleyball teams, as each team won in five games on the other’s home floor earlier this year. The rubber match will be for the highest stakes yet, as the third meeting will take place in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament semifinals at UC Irvine on Thursday night. The winner will take a big step toward advancing to the NCAA Championships.
MATCH #26 Â Thursday (April 30) at the Bren Events Center in Irvine, Calif.: #2-ranked and #2-seeded Pepperdine (21-4, 18-4 MPSF, second place) vs. #3-ranked and #3-seeded Cal State Northridge (24-6, 16-6, third place) at 5 p.m. The other semifinal between #1-ranked and #1-seeded UC Irvine (25-4) and #4-ranked and #5-seeded USC (18-10) follows at approximately 7:30 p.m.
TICKETS Â Tickets are available through the Bren Events Center Box Office by calling (949) 824-5000. The cost is $15 for adults and $5 for youth/students per day. There are no all-tournament passes, and seating at the Bren Events Center will be general admission. The box office opens 1 Â½ hours prior to each day of competition. There are no pass lists or complementary tickets per MPSF policy.
ON THE WEB Â The MPSF will provide free live audio broadcasts of the semifinals and final at www.mpsports.org. Pepperdine’s own Al Epstein has the call. Live statistics can be accessed at www.ucirvinesports.com. A link to the live stats will also be provided at www.pepperdinesports.com.
MPSF TOURNAMENT HISTORY Â Pepperdine, the defending champion, has won four MPSF Tournament titles. This is the Waves’ 16th appearance and after a quarterfinal victory over Long Beach State they have an all-time record of 21-11 (.656). The Waves won championships in 1998, 2002, 2005 and 2008. Pepperdine won the title last year by beating UCLA and Long Beach State on the road and BYU in the final in Long Beach.
MPSF AWARDS Â Senior opposite Paul Carroll was named the MPSF’s Player of the Year. He earned his fourth All-MPSF selection, the last three on the first team. Junior libero Sean Grubbs and sophomore setter Kasey Crider were selected All-MPSF honorable mention.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE SERIES Â Pepperdine is 48-18 all-time against Cal State Northridge. The teams split their 2009 regular-season series, with each winning on the other’s floor in five games. The teams also split in 2008. Pepperdine is 5-1 against CSUN in the MPSF Tournament. CSUN was victorious in the first matchup, which was a 1993 semifinal in Irvine. The Waves then won in the 1994 first round (Palo Alto), 2002 first round (Malibu), 2004 first round (Malibu), 2005 semifinals (Malibu) and 2006 first round (Malibu).
FIRST MATCH VS. CSUN Â Back on Feb. 25 ... Pepperdine’s first match as the #1-ranked team didn’t go as hoped, as the Waves fell behind 2-0, battled back to send the match to a fifth set, but lost 30-24, 30-22, 33-35, 26-30, 15-12. Then-#4 CSUN ended a 15-match losing streak in Firestone Fieldhouse. Paul Carroll had 22 kills and 12 digs to lead the Waves, while CSUN got 23 kills apiece from Tanner Nua and Eric Vance. The Matadors hit .414, a season high by a Pepperdine opponent, while the Waves hit .345. In the fifth game, CSUN broke out to a 4-0 lead and the Waves got no closer than two points.
SECOND MATCH VS. CSUN Â Back on April 1 ... In an opposite of the first match, the Waves won the first two games, the Matadors rallied to send it to a fifth game, and Pepperdine eventually prevailed, 30-28, 31-29, 28-30, 35-37, 15-12, in the Matadome. Paul Carroll had 32 kills for Pepperdine and Eric Vance had 33 for CSUN. The Matadors had a .351-.348 hitting edge. In the fifth game, the Waves trailed by three points early, but Cory Riecks and Carroll later broke an 8-8 tie with consecutive kills, and the teams traded points the rest of the way.
MPSF QUARTERFINAL RECAP Â Effective blocking and hitting allowed Pepperdine to defeat seventh-seeded and eighth-ranked Long Beach State in four games (30-28, 30-25, 23-30, 30-27) in an MPSF Tournament quarterfinal at Firestone Fieldhouse on Saturday (April 25). Despite having 26 fewer kills (78 to 52), the Waves outhit the 49ers, .330 to .297, and outblocked them, 17.5 to 4.0. LBSU had 32 attack errors to Pepperdine’s 14, and 24 service errors to the Waves’ nine. Paul Carroll had a team-high 19 kills, while Tyler Jaynes had 10 kills, hit .600 and had a match-high nine block assists.
CONFERENCE STATS Â As a team, Pepperdine is first in the MPSF in hitting percentage (.344) and third in digs (10.92), assists (15.09), blocks (3.27) and kills (15.85) ... Paul Carroll is first in the MPSF in kills (6.22) and points (7.08) and 10th in service aces (0.28) ... Kasey Crider is second in assists (13.78) ... Tyler Jaynes is fourth in blocks (1.42) and eighth in hitting percentage (.405) ... Rodnei Santos is fifth in blocks (1.41) and fifth in hitting percentage (.442) ... Sean Grubbs is 10th in digs (2.22).
NATIONAL STATS Â According to the NCAA, Pepperdine ranks second nationally in hitting percentage, third in assists and kills and fourth in blocks and digs ... Paul Carroll is first in the nation in kills ... Kasey Crider is second in assists ... Tyler Jaynes is seventh in blocks ... Rodnei Santos is eighth in blocks.
CARROLL Â One of collegiate volleyball’s most feared hitters, two-time All-American first teamer Paul Carroll (Forster, Australia) is nearing the end of one of the top careers in school history. The starting opposite led the nation in kills (6.54) in 2008 and is doing so again this season. Carroll, who was named Volleyball Australia’s top male player last year, just became only the fourth player in Pepperdine history to record 2,000 career kills, and has moved up to third place on the school’s career kills list (2,031). Carroll has earned the AVCA National Player of the Week award five times in his career, more than any other player in Pepperdine history. He’s earned an MPSF weekly award six times. He’s also been named Pepperdine’s Male Athlete of the Year for 2008-09. Carroll has led Pepperdine in kills in every match this season, with at least 14 every time and a career-high-tying 37 vs. UC Irvine (2/20). That also tied his own school single-match record for the rally scoring era. Carroll has had 20 or more kills 16 times and 30 or more kills seven times. The 2009 MPSF Player of the Year is hitting .394 and is averaging 6.22 kills, 2.07 digs, 1.07 blocks and 0.28 aces.
CARROLL IN THE RECORD BOOKS Â On Pepperdine’s career lists, Paul Carroll currently ranks #3 in kills (2,031), #3 in service aces (150), #3 in points (2,376.0), #4 in kills per game (5.50), #4 in attempts (3,983), #4 points per game (6.44), #5 in service aces per game (0.41), #7 in digs (604) and #8 games played (369) ... His 2009 numbers rank on Pepperdine’s single-season lists (rally-scoring era only) as #2 in kills (591, he’s also #1 with 605 in 2007), #2 in kills per game (6.22, he’s also #1 with 6.54 in 2008), #2 points (672.5, he’s also #1 with 720.5 in 2007), #2 points per game (7.08, he’s also #1 with 7.56 in 2008) and #3 in attempts (1,140, he needs 36 more attacks to tie Sean Rooney for #1).
CRIDER Â With the graduation of four-time All-American Jonathan Winder, sophomore Kasey Crider (Granite Bay, Calif./Granite Bay HS) has taken over the reins at setter. A former youth national team member, Crider saw time on the court as a serving and defensive specialist last season. He has been up to task of replacing Winder, averaging 13.78 assists, 2.08 digs and 0.65 blocks while leading Pepperdine to a .344 team hitting percentage. He was named All-MPSF honorable mention in 2009.
CRIDER IN THE RECORD BOOKS Â On Pepperdine’s single-season records list for the rally-scoring era, Kasey Crider is #2 in assists per game (13.78), #6 in assists (1,309) and #10 in digs (198).
OUTSIDE HITTERS Â Pepperdine’s lineup suffered a blow when senior J.D. Schleppenbach (Ventura, Calif./Ventura HS), one of the postseason heroes of 2008, had offseason shoulder surgery that will force him to redshirt the 2009 season. The two that have been starting for the Waves are senior Matt McKee (Aurora, Ill./Aurora West HS) and sophomore Cory Riecks (Auburn, Calif./Placer HS). McKee saw plenty of playing time last season when Paul Carroll was injured, and later was one of the first players off the bench. He is second on the team with 2.70 kills this season. Riecks started as a freshman last season and was second on the squad in kills last year, and is third this year with 2.59 kills. Junior Brent Schirripa (Los Angeles, Calif./Crespi Carmelite HS) has proven to be a very capable substitute and Cal State Northridge transfer Sean Pedersen (Evergreen Park, Ill./Mount Carmel HS) has seen time as a serving specialist.
MIDDLE BLOCKERS Â The Waves have gotten excellent play from their middle blockers this season. Pepperdine has been going with returning starter and sophomore Tyler Jaynes (Granite Bay, Calif./Granite Bay HS) and junior Rodnei Santos (Sao Paulo, Brazil), a transfer who was a starter at BYU as a 2007 freshman. Jaynes is averaging 1.52 kills and 1.42 blocks while hitting .405, and Santos is averaging 2.21 kills and 1.41 blocks while hitting .442. Waiting in the wings are senior Mark Hulse (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township HS/Rutgers-Newark), a starter last season, and freshman Matt Pollock (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg HS). As a team, Pepperdine is averaging 3.23 blocks per game.
SANTOS IN THE RECORD BOOKS Â On Pepperdine’s single-season records list for the rally-scoring era, Rodnei Santos is #4 in hitting percentage (.442).
GRUBBS Â Junior libero Sean Grubbs (Newport Beach, Calif./Newport Harbor HS/Irvine Valley CC) did an excellent job in his first season with the Waves, averaging 1.88 digs, and is manning the position again. He is at 2.22 digs per game this season and was named All-MPSF honorable mention.
GRUBBS IN THE RECORD BOOKS Â On Pepperdine’s career records list, Sean Grubbs is #3 in digs per game (2.04) ... On the school’s single-season records list for the rally-scoring era, he is #4 in digs per game (2.22) and #6 in digs (211).
2009 HONORS Â Kasey Crider was named MPSF co-Player of the Week on Jan. 19 ... Paul Carroll was named AVCA Player and MPSF co-Player of the Week on Jan. 26 ... Carroll earned AVCA and co-MPSF honors again on Feb. 23 ... Carroll was the MPSF co-Player of the Week again on March 9 ... Matt McKee was the MPSF co-Player of the Week on March 23 ... Crider was the AVCA Player of the Week and shared the MPSF award on March 30 ... Rodnei Santos was the MPSF co-Player of the Week on April 6.
SEASON NOTABLES Â Pepperdine achieved a #1 ranking on Feb. 23 for the first time since the final regular-season poll in 2007 ... The Waves have been #1 on two occasions this season (but lost during that week both times) ... Pepperdine had a 10-match win streak that began on February 28 and ended on April 11 ... The Waves were 9-1 after 10 matches for the seventh time in the last 12 years ... The Waves’ 7-0 start was their best since 1999 ... Pepperdine won its season opener for the 20th consecutive season (last losing one in 1989) ... Rather than play a number of non-conference matches prior to the season, the Waves went to Canada and took part in a couple of exhibition tournaments. They won the Brian Mallard Invitational in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and finished second at the McDonald’s International Classic in Kamloops, B.C. In the fall, the Waves also took part in the Can-Am Challenge in Edmonton, Alberta, and the Preview to the Final Four in Buffalo, N.Y.
DUNPHY Â Marv Dunphy, now in his 26th season as head coach of the Waves, has time and again proven himself to be one of the top teachers in the sport. He has directed Pepperdine to four NCAA championships, each in a different decade (1978, 1985, 1992, 2005). He was the 2005 National Coach of the Year and is a three-time MPSF Coach of the Year. Dunphy has long been involved with USA Volleyball, having been part of the coaching staff at five Olympics, including head coach of the 1988 team and consultant coach for the 2008 squad, both of which won gold. He entered the 2009 season with a career record of 469-184 (.718). Pepperdine’s coaching staff, which includes assistants Scott Wong and Beau Daniels, are all alums of the school.
ROSTER Â The Waves return 10 of 14 letterwinners and five starters plus the libero from the 2008 squad (one of those returning starters is injured, however). Pepperdine returns four other players from last year’s team, plus adds two transfers and two true freshmen to the roster for a total of 18 players. There are four seniors, six juniors, four sophomores, two redshirt freshmen and two true freshmen.
MPSF POLL Â In a preseason vote of the MPSF coaches, Pepperdine and UCLA were named the co-favorites heading into the 2009 season. The rest of the teams were ranked as follows: Long Beach State, Cal State Northridge, UC Irvine, USC, Stanford, BYU, Hawaii, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego and Pacific.
LAST YEAR Â After ending the regular season in a tie for fourth place in the MPSF with a 12-10 record, the Waves went on a remarkable postseason run. They upset three higher-seeded squads Â UCLA, Long Beach State and BYU Â on the road or at neutral sites to win the MPSF Tournament for the fourth time. Pepperdine then beat Long Beach State again in the NCAA Championships semfinals before falling to top-ranked Penn State in the title match. Paul Carroll and Jonathan Winder repeated as first-team All-Americans. The Waves finished with an overall record of 17-11.
2008 GREATEST MOMENT Â The Pepperdine men’s volleyball team’s successful postseason appearance last year won it a "Greatest Sports Moment of 2008" award at the Fourth Annual L.A. Sports Awards, presented by the Los Angeles Sports Council. The Waves won in the "Other Division I Schools" category in an online vote over Cal State Fullerton’s men’s basketball team and UC Irvine’s men’s soccer team.
VOLLEYBALL HISTORY Â Pepperdine has won five NCAA men’s volleyball championships, second only to UCLA. The Waves have won the MPSF Tournament four times and have won or shared nine regular-season conference titles, including four of the last nine MPSF crowns. Pepperdine student-athletes have won national player of the year honors seven times and All-American accolades 71 times. A Pepperdine alum has competed for the U.S. at the Olympics every time since 1984 (Sean Rooney won gold in 2008).
ABOUT PEPPERDINE Â Pepperdine boasts a one-of-a-kind athletic department with unprecedented success for a school of its size. The Waves have won a total of nine NCAA championships in five different men’s sports Â one of just 14 schools to have accomplished this feat. Of the 14, Pepperdine is the only non-BCS school and has by far the smallest enrollment. The majority of Pepperdine’s teams are ranked nationally year after year and several compete for conference and national titles.