Feb. 15, 2007
MALIBU, Calif. - The second-ranked Pepperdine Waves maintained their lead in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) race by handing the top-ranked BYU Cougars their third straight loss 3-2 (30-20, 27-30, 32-30, 25-30, 15-13) Thursday night at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu, Calif.
Pepperdine has now won seven straight and improves to 10-1 on the season, 8-1 in league play. BYU drops to 9-3 (5-2 MPSF) on the year after opening the season with nine straight victories.
Paul Carroll led all players with 22 kills. J.D. Schleppenbach chipped in 18 kills and two aces while Jon Grobe and Greg Gaudino ended the night with 14 and 10 kills, respectively. The Waves held a decisive 73-55 advantage in kills but committed 27 service errors to seven aces for the match.
Yosleyder Cala led BYU with 20 kills on .545 hitting. Robby Stowell added 12 kills but hit just .069 while doing most of his damage at the service line for the Cougars.
BYU ended game four on a 3-0 run and picked up right where it left off in game five getting out to a 3-1 lead in the race to 15. Kills by Carroll and Schleppenbach completed the Pepperdine comeback and tied the score at 4-4. After back-up setter Brian Congelliere attempted to dump a tight pass and missed, the Waves held their first lead of the frame 7-6. But the Cougars would lead at the switch after a Pepperdine service error was followed by a BYU block of Grobe. Grobe avenged the block and tied the score at 9-all setting up back-to-back kills by Carroll and an 11-9 Waves' lead. Gaudino pushed the Pepperdine lead to 13-10 but the Cougars tied the score at 13-13 after Russell Holmes and Ivan Perez blocked Carroll. Schleppenbach provided Pepperdine with its first match-point try and on the ensuing play Holmes' attempt went way wide and long.
Pepperdine was first to strike in the match and led 6-3 early in game one. BYU battled back quickly and tied the score four times between 8- and 11-all. Then a 5-2 Waves' run opened the flood gates as Pepperdine jumped out to a 23-16 lead. The lead continued to increase as the Waves closed out the match with a 7-4 run much to the delight of the rowdy home crowd. In the set, BYU scored on its serve just twice as Pepperdine sided out on 19-of-21 chances.
The Waves kept up the tempo in game two and led 9-5 after Gaudino and Grobe turned away a Stowell attempt. With the Cougars trailing 12-9, Stowell toed the service line and gave Pepperdine fits as he changed from float serves to hard serves accurately. Following a 6-0 run BYU held its second lead of the match 15-13. Following a Carroll kill the Cougars scored three more points and led 18-13. A pair of Grobe kills calmed down the Waves and led to a 6-1 run to tie the score at 19-19. Pepperdine finally recaptured the lead 24-23 and a kill by Holmes tied the score again and sent Stowell back to serve. Stowell served the next five points and BYU held off a late 3-0 run by the Waves to tie the match at 1-1. Starting setter Yamil Perez twisted his ankle during game two and never returned.
With the crowd out of the match BYU seized control of game three. The Cougars led by as many as six on two different occasions, the last coming at 24-18. Holmes service error started Pepperdine on its game-changing rush. Carroll followed with a kill as did Schleppenbach and Grobe pulled the score to 24-22. Cala halted the 4-0 run only to see Carroll drop consecutive kills and Gaudino chip in with one to tie the stanza a 25-all. Again, the Cougars looked to Cala who was up to the task and kept the lead in BYU's favor. Schleppenbach's fifth kill of the game tied the score at 28-28 and his ace on the next play gave the Waves game-point. The two teams traded sideouts until a Grobe kill was followed by a Stowell error that gave Pepperdine the 2-1 lead.
BYU got out to a 17-8 lead in game four before an 8-3 Pepperdine run got the Waves back into the set. The Waves closed what was once a seven-point gap down to two 27-25 but three straight errors sent the match to a fifth game.
The two teams will have an encore performance Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. PT in Malibu. Pepperdine is now 3-3 since 2000 as the underdog when No. 1 faces No. 2.