MALIBU, Calif. Â The Pepperdine and Santa Clara women’s volleyball teams battled to the last point of a five-game marathon, with the visiting Broncos pulling out a 30-27, 23-30, 25-30, 30-26, 18-16 victory at Firestone Fieldhouse on Saturday in the West Coast Conference finale for both teams.
Pepperdine now stands at 18-9 overall and finished in third place in the WCC at 9-5. The Waves have one non-conference game remaining. Santa Clara clinched a share of the WCC title at 11-3 in conference and 19-11 overall. Santa Clara holds the tiebreaker over San Diego and earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Junior outside hitter Julie Rubenstein (Camarillo, Calif./Oaks Christian HS) and sophomore outside hitter Kayla Walker (Kaysville, Utah/Davis HS) each had 17 kills to lead the Waves.
Nearly all of Santa Clara’s offense went through freshman outside hitter Krista Kelley and junior outside hitter Brittany Lowe, who combined for 59 of the Broncos’ 75 kills. Kelley had 32 on 81 swings and Lowe had 27 on 64 attempts.
Game one belonged to Santa Clara’s Kelley, who notched 11 of her team’s 17 kills. The Waves led 26-25 but Kelley recorded four kills on the next five points to make it 29-27 Santa Clara, and then combined with sophomore outside hitter Lauryn Dowd on a game-ending block.
The Waves hit nearly a tenth of a point better in game two, going from .222 to .316, and it reflected in the 30-23 score. Pepperdine led at 17-16 and then went on a 7-0 run on Rubenstein’s serve.
Santa Clara took back momentum for a large part of game three and led 20-15. But the Waves turned it around and won 15 of the next 20 points, including three kills by Walker, two service aces by sophomore outside hitter Rachel Lumsden (Brea, Calif./Brea Olinda HS) and back-to-back service aces by freshman libero Krista Friedman (La Verne, Calif./), which ended game three.
The Waves’ lost senior middle blocker Lecca Roberts (Kula, Hawaii/Seabury HS) to an injury between games three and four, and her presence in the middle was missed, as Santa Clara won game four. Lowe had seven kills and the Waves hit just .125. Pepperdine actually led 18-17 but the Broncos rallied to post leads of 20-18, 23-19 and 26-21.
Astonishingly, Pepperdine outhit Santa Clara .391 to .207 in game five, but the Broncos fought off two match points at 14-13 and 15-14. Tied 16-16, Lowe had a kill and Dowd ended the match with a service ace.
Overall, the Waves hit .245 to the Broncos’ .217, though Santa Clara had a 16-11 edge on blocks and a 73-56 advantage on digs.
The Waves’ regular-season finale is on Tuesday (Nov. 20) against UCLA at 7 p.m. at Firestone Fieldhouse. The match is a collection point for the Pepperdine Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s Canned Food Drive, as fans are encouraged to donate canned goods that will be given to the St. Joseph Center in Los Angeles.