March 31, 2007
MALIBU, Calif. - The top-ranked Pepperdine Waves were pushed to the limit Saturday night at Firestone Fieldhouse by second-ranked UC Irvine Anteaters who saw their 10-match win streak come to an end in a 3-2 (28-30, 30-20, 30-25, 22-30, 15-13) defeat in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) play.
Pepperdine has now won a single-season school record 18 straight matches and improves to 21-1 on the year and more importantly, 17-1 in league play. The Waves just need one victory in its remaining four matches to secure the highly sought after first round bye and home-court advantage throughout the conference tournament.
Jonathan Winder set the Waves to a .331 hitting percentage while adding six kills, a team-high nine digs and four blocks in the match. Paul Carroll led all players with 22 kills and the team's lone ace. J.D. Schleppenbach added 15 kills for Pepperdine and Greg Gaudino had nine on .727 hitting.
The Waves outblocked the Anteaters (22-4, 15-4 MPSF) by an 18-12 margin and were led by Tom Hulse's 10 and Gaudino and Schleppenbach's six.
UC Irvine received 19 kills apiece from Jayson Jablonsky and Matt Webber and 14 from David Smith. Taylor Wilson added 11 and a pair of aces. Webber led all players with three aces and tacked on seven blocks for the visitors.
For the third straight match, Pepperdine dropped game one. The match opened with neither team willing to budge from its game plan, trading punches to a 15-15 stalemate. Irvine picked up the first advantage when a Jablonsky kill was followed by a Webber kill and a Pepperdine attack error that forced Marv Dunphy to burn his first timeout of the night. Still trailing by three, Schleppenbach got the Waves started on a 3-0 run that included a block from Winder and Gaudino and a solo stuff from Schleppenbach that tied the match at 20-all. Out of an Anteater timeout the visitors answered Pepperdine's run and picked up the advantage it needed to take a 1-0 lead in the contest.
Pepperdine was the first team to strike in game two, breaking a 5-5 tie with a 4-1 run that forced Irvine into an early timeout. Jablonsky's lone ace in the match pulled the Anteaters within two at 11-9 but Carroll stated the Waves on a 5-1 run and a six-point lead. Irvine chipped away at the deficit and following an ace from Wilson had pulled within three, 23-20. Wilson's ensuing serve was errant and Jablonsky's attack on the following play was wide as the lead reached five. Irvine got suck in a bad rotation and passing became an issue as the Waves recorded five straight kills to run out the frame and even the score at 1-1.
The Pepperdine block picked up the tempo in game three but not before Irvine had gotten out to an 8-3 lead. Hulse got the Waves started offensively with a kill that opened the door for a 4-0 run that closed the gap to one, 8-7. After a Winder setting error, Pepperdine added three more points to take a 10-9 lead. The Anteaters regained the lead following a Carroll attack error at 13-12 but it would prove to be the final lead of the frame for Irvine as Pepperdine used a 6-1 run to take an 18-14 lead. The Anteaters did not go down without a fight in the game as the managed to use a 4-0 run to close the gap to two at 24-22. The run might have continued had Wilson not be called for being in the net as he and Smith blocked Carroll for a second consecutive play. The Waves did not waste their chance to take a 2-0 lead as Schleppenbach and Hulse teamed up for the team's fifth block of the frame and Gaudino and John Parfitt sealed the set with a block of Webber.
Irvine had control of game four from the get-go. After scoring the first three points of the set the held a 10-7 lead when Pepperdine used its first timeout. The lead reached seven at 19-12 when the Waves burned their final timeout. Pepperdine used a 3-0 run to pull within six but that would be as close as the stanza would get as Irvine forced a game five.
The Waves may have gotten into the head's of the Irvine players early in the decisive set. Pepperdine recorded a pair on thunderous blocks to start the frame and led 4-2 after a third block. Irvine managed to tie the game at 5-5 following a Pepperdine service error and a Carroll attack error but the third Anteater service error of the set kept the Waves in the lead. Irvine picked up its first lead of the frame when a Smith kill was followed by a Schleppenbach error. A Wilson kill had Irvine leading 8-7 at the switch. A Carroll kill tied the score at 8-all and Webber hit out to put the lead back in the Waves' court. Wilson tied the score at 9-9 only to have the fourth Irvine service error keep Pepperdine ahead. With the score knotted at 11-11 Schleppenbach notched a kill and Winder deposited an overpass to extend the lead to two, 13-11. Jablonsky ended the run with a kill only to serve into the net. Smith fought off the first match-point try by Pepperdine only to give the match away when his serve hit the bottom the net.
Pepperdine will take to the road next weekend to face Stanford and Pacific. Both matches are slated for 7 p.m. PDT first serves.