Waves Crash Saint Mary's, 3-2
Nov. 7, 2013
MALIBU, Calif. - A solid all-around defensive effort, plus a match-high 20 kills by Kelley Larsen helped lift the Pepperdine women's volleyball team to a 3-2 victory over visiting Saint Mary's. Larsen finished the night with 16 digs for her team-leading ninth double-double of the season.
The home team rallied back from a 1-2 deficit to ultimately win by set scores of 25-22, 20-25, 22-25, 25-22, 15-10.
"I thought we played relaxed tonight, stuck with the game plan and didn't get flustered," said Pepperdine Athletics Hall of Fame coach Nina Matthies. "We played as a team tonight, made things happen and found ways to score when it mattered most."
The Waves (12-10, 6-8 West Coast Conference) out-killed the Gales 68-58. In additions to Larsen's (Jamul, Calif./Christian HS) 20 kills, a new career-best for the senior outside hitter, Katie Messing (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands HS) and Taylor Racich (Santa Barbara, Calif./Dos Pueblos HS) also finished the night in double digits. Messing sent 14 kills to the floor, while Racich disposed of 15.
Larsen was spectacular, earning her 20 kills on a .224 (20 kills-9 errors-49 attempts) hitting percentage. She terminated the ball when it mattered most, nailing down four kills on six swings in the fifth set alone.
"Kelley was fantastic again tonight. She was unbelievable at BYU last week," praised Matthies of her outside hitter. "Becca (Strehlow) did a wonderful job spreading out the offense and all the pin hitters did their job. I'm very proud of how everyone came together tonight."
Five different Waves, including Larsen, reached double figures in digs to bring the team total to a season-best 94. It was the most digs collected in a single match since 2011, when Pepperdine was credited with an even 100 vs. USC in the NCAA Regional Finals.
Messing also achieved the kills-digs double-double with 19 pick-ups. Jillian Bergeson (Friendswood, Texas/Friendswood HS) surpassed the 20 digs plateau for the sixth time this season with 21. Becca Strehlow (Long Beach, Calif./Woodrow Wilson HS) and Kellie Woolever (Long Beach, Calif./Woodrow Wilson HS) added 15 apiece.
Strehlow, a sophomore setter, orchestrated an offensive unit that hit .224 (68-29-174) as a team. She finished the match with a career-high 58 assists.
At the net, the defense was led by Samantha Cash (San Diego, Calif./Canyon Crest Academy) with six blocks, three of which came in the first six points of the deciding fifth frame.
Saint Mary's (13-8, 9-4 WCC) was led by Kristina Grave, who produced 19 kills and 13 digs. Natalie Loos was impressive at the net and threw the roof on a match-high nine times.
The match was a back-and-forth affair from the start, with 48 tie scores and 18 different lead changes in the first four sets alone.
Down 1-2, Pepperdine found themselves down 10-13 in set four. The Waves climbed back, however, and overtook the lead on a Messing ace, 17-16. Although SMC knotted the score back up at 19-all, Larsen put down a kill to give the Waves the lead once and for all as they went on to win 25-22.
The Waves broke out to a 5-2 lead in the deciding fifth set, thanks in part to a string of three Cash roofs. The Gaels battled diligently though and tied the score at five before taking a brief lead 7-8. Racich stepped in for a kill and a block on back-to-back points to tilt the score back in the home team's favor.
Saint Mary's would only be allowed two more points, as Larsen took over and scored four of the final five points (all on kills) for Pepperdine.
The Waves return to action on Saturday, November 9 when they face Pacific a 1 p.m. The following week, November 16, Senior Day will be celebrated as Larsen and Woolever will play in their final home match inside Firestone Fieldhouse.