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Men's Volleyball History

Pepperdine Men's Volleyball Media Guide

The rich tradition of the Pepperdine men’s volleyball program continues to this day. The proud owners of five NCAA Championships, nine regular-season conference titles and four* Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament crowns, the Waves regularly demonstrate a level of success that is sustained year in and year out on the beautiful Malibu campus.

Marv Dunphy

Pepperdine’s most successful program has made the NCAA Championships event on 15* occasions, including seven* times over the past 15 years. The Waves’ five NCAA championships (1978, 1985, 1986, 1992, 2005) are the second most of any school in the country and account for five of the nine NCAA titles that Pepperdine has won as a school.

Pepperdine has finished in the top six of the final AVCA poll in 15 of the last 17 seasons beginning in 1997.

As a whole, the Waves have posted an overall record of 709-338 (.677)* in 43 seasons and a cumulative league mark of 498-259 (.658).* Since the MPSF went to its current round-robin format in 2002, Pepperdine owns the best record at 182-84 (.684).* The Waves’ record in MPSF play since the league was established in 1993 is 293-142 (.674)*.

The backbone to the program’s success is head coach Marv Dunphy. Entering his 31st season in 2014, Dunphy is just one of three coaches in any sport to win an NCAA title in four different decades. 

2005 NCAA Champions

He notched his 500th* career win when the Waves defeated Cal State Northridge on February 26, 2010. Dunphy, now with a career record of 546-421 (.694)*, is believed to have become the fifth head coach in NCAA men’s volleyball history to reach that milestone. 

Forty-three different Waves have earned All-American honors a total of 78 times, including 43 first-team selections since 1977. Pepperdine has claimed a National Player of the Year award in eight different seasons, including seven of the last 16 years. Six athletes have earned the honor from the American Coaches Volleyball Association, more than any other school since the AVCA began issuing the award in 1991.

The men’s volleyball program played its inaugural season in 1971 under the direction of coach Moo Park.

Burt DeGroot inherited the head coaching position in 1973 and held the job for two years. Harlan Cohen took over in 1975 for two seasons and led Pepperdine to a share of the 1976 SCIVA title and a runner-up finish in the NCAA Championships.

Dunphy, who played for the Waves in 1972 and 1973 and then served as an assistant coach, became head coach in 1977 and led the Waves to a 15-5 mark. In 1978, Dunphy led the Waves to their second SCIVA co-championship and first-ever NCAA championship with a 21-4 overall record. Pepperdine defeated local power UCLA in five sets.

Pepperdine advanced to the 1983 and 1984 NCAA title matches only to come away as runner-up to crosstown rival UCLA. The Waves continued on their historic four-year run by winning NCAA titles in 1985 with Dunphy and 1986 under Rod Wilde. Both title-clinching victories were over USC.

After a brief three-year hiatus to focus his efforts on coaching the United States National Team to a gold medal at the 1988 Olympics Games, Dunphy returned in 1989 and brought the volleyball program back to prominence in 1992 with the school’s fourth NCAA title.

Pepperdine won its fifth and most recent national crown in 2005. The 1985 and 2005 teams both went 25-2, good for the best overall winning percentage (.926) in school history. The 2002 Waves won a school-record 29 matches.

In addition to its five titles, Pepperdine placed second at the NCAA Championships in 1976, 1983, 1984, 1998, 2002 and 2008*.

*Pepperdine later vacated all wins (66), NCAA Tournament loses (1), MPSF Tournament Championships (1) and NCAA Tournament appearances (1) accrued during the 2008, ‘09, ‘10 and ‘11 seasons due to self-reported NCAA violations. Records marked with an asterisk do not reflect this. Pepperdine’s official NCAA all-time record prior to the 2014 season is 643-337, while Marv Dunphy’s official  NCAA record at Pepperdine is 480-240 overall. Pepperdine’s official conference record is 44-259 and its official MPSF record is 242-142. The Waves have officially won three MPSF Tournament titles and made 14 NCAA appearances. Official season records are as follows: 2008, 0-10; 2009, 0-5; 2010, 0-10; 2011, 0-15.