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Clash of the Titans Goes to Pepperdine, 3-2

March 12, 2005

MALIBU, Calif. - The 2,450 fans at Firestone Fieldhouse were treated to a thrilling five-game match with a playoff atmosphere as No. 2-ranked Pepperdine pulled off the 3-2 (28-30, 36-34, 30-26, 27-30, 15-13) victory over No. 1-ranked UCLA Saturday night.

From the first point of the night to John Parfitt's career-high breaking 25 kill to end the match, the largest home crowd of the season was kept in suspense erupting in cheers the entire way. "The home crowd was huge for us tonight," commented Parfitt. "Hopefully they will keep coming out and inspiring us to play every night."

UCLA's (18-3, 13-3 MPSF) Alan Vince gave the Bruins the first break of the night as he served UCLA to a two-point lead, 11-9, in game one. The lead would reach 16-12 before Partfitt served Pepperdine (14-1, 14-1 MPSF) to four consecutive points, knotting the game at 19-19. The Waves would gain their first lead since 9-8 at 25-24 on one of Andy Hein's two kills in the game. The lead would not last and Vince recorded a kill and teamed up with Dennis Gonzales on a block to swing the lead back in UCLA's favor, 26-25. Sean Rooney's sixth kill of the game evened the score at 28-all but back-to-back Wave errors put the Bruins in control of the match, 1-0.

Rooney paced all players with 30 kills as he ended the night with a .439 attack percentage. The senior outside hitter would add a pair of service aces and four blocks in the match. John Mayer finished the night with 12 kills and 13 digs for his team-leading third double-double of the season, while Hein recorded eight kills with six blocks. Tom Hulse chipped in six blocks as well.

Paul Johnson carried UCLA with 17 kills on 28 swings (.536), while Brennan Prahler and Jonathan Acosta added 15 and 14, respectively.

Pepperdine seemed to be suffering a bit of a hangover after dropping the first game as the Bruins sped out to a 4-1 lead. But the Waves regrouped and forced an UCLA timeout after scoring five of the next six points to take their first lead of the game at 6-5. Back-to-back Bruin errors put Pepperdine up by two at 12-10, a lead which would reach five moments later at 18-13. The Bruins would fight their way back in to the game. Trailing, 27-23, UCLA embarked on a 5-1 run as the game was tied at 28. A Rooney kill gave the Waves the first of five game-point tries at 29-28. UCLA would regain the lead at 32-31 but a Prahler ervice error was followed by a Parfitt kill giving Pepperdine another attempt to close the game. Consecutive Wave errors swung the pendulum back to the Bruins side as they served for their second game-point. Hein's only kill of the game knotted things up at 34-all and set up back-to-back Rooney kills as Pepperdine evened the match up at 1-1.

"How we played tonight is kind of how we have been playing as of late," noted Marv Dunphy. "We are playing well enough to win but not necessarily meeting all the standards to win. I feel like tonight we almost took turns playing well on our side of the net, no one person was great the entire match."

Pepperdine took a 2-1 lead in the match by limiting UCLA to just .162 hitting in game three. Despite trailing 7-4 and 10-6, the Waves remained calm until a Rooney kill was followed by a Hein, Parfitt block and a Hulse service ace, giving Pepperdine an 18-16 lead. The Bruins would go back on top at 20-19 as the teams traded points to 23-22, UCLA. Then a 4-1 Wave run gave Pepperdine a 26-24 edge. The match would lock up again at 26-all before the Waves sealed the deal with a 4-0 run.

Game four would see Pepperdine get out to a 12-8 lead, only to have the Bruins even the game at 20-20. UCLA would push the lead to three at 26-23 before a Hulse solo block cut the lead to one, 27-26. A Rooney attack error was followed by a Prahler kill setting up game-point for UCLA. Rooney made true on a second attack but a ball-handling error on setter Jonathan Winder sent the match to a fifth game.

Winder quarterbacked the Pepperdine offense to near perfection the entire night, but was unstoppable in game five as the Waves pounded out 11 kills with just two errors in hitting .529 in the decisive game. A solo block from Rooney and an attack error by Kris Kraushaar gave Pepperdine a 5-3 lead. UCLA would score the next two points which were answered by the Waves as they regained the lead at 7-5. Vince's service error gave Pepperdine the 8-6 lead as the two teams switched ends of the court. Back-to-back Johnson kills evened the game at 9-9, then it was all Rooney. The Wheaton, Ill., native put the Waves up 11-9 only to see the Bruins tie the game at 11-each. Rooney again banged home consecutive kills to put the Waves back on top, 13-11. Prahler cut the lead to one before a Rooney kill and service error set up Parfitt's career night.

"[Jonathan] Winder came to me and said `this ball is going to you, you have to put it down," remembered Parfitt about the match's final point.

With the win, Pepperdine now controls its own destiny within the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation race. The Waves sit alone in first 1.5 games ahead of UCLA.

Pepperdine continues its five-match homestand Thursday night when the USC Trojans visit Malibu. The Waves swept USC in Los Angeles in the two team's first meeting on Feb. 4.