April 7, 2007
STOCKTON, Calif. - For the fourth time since the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) went to a round-robin schedule in 2002, the Pepperdine Waves have captured the regular-season title by sweeping the Pacific Tigers (30-28, 30-23, 30-27) at the Alex G. Spanos Center.
The victory improved Pepperdine's road record to 11-0 marking the first time in program history the team went undefeated away from Firestone Fieldhouse. It also extends the team's win streak to 20 straight, four shy of breaking the all-time mark of 23 set from during the 1985-86 seasons.
J.D. Schleppenbach led Pepperdine (23-1, 19-1 MPSF) with 14 kills, while Paul Carroll chipping in with 12. Jon Grobe punched out nine and Greg Gaudino added seven for the Waves who hit .358 for the match. Pepperdine outblocked Pacific (14-15, 8-12 MPSF) by a 16-8 margin, led by Tom Hulse's nine, Carroll's seven and Gaudino's six.
Matt Cornell led all players with 21 kills on an impressive .485 hitting and Maor Nutkevitch had 12 but was held to a .074 clip.
A balanced attack by Pepperdine helped the Waves pull out a game one victory despite Pacific holding a 20-15 advantage in kills for the set. Pepperdine's largest lead of the frame came at 15-11 after the Tigers committed three hitting errors to aid a 4-0 Waves' run. Pacific battled back from the deficit to take its first lead of the set at 19-18, forcing Pepperdine to call a timeout. The Waves scored consecutive points out of the stoppage and did not trail the rest of the way.
Pepperdine recorded less kills than Pacific in the second game as well, but hit at a .625 clip, committing just one error, to the Tigers' .242 hitting and 10 errors to go up 2-0 in the best-of-five match. Despite three straight hitting errors by Pacific to start the stanza, the set was tightly contested with eighth ties leading to a 15-15 stalemate. Carroll broke the tie and Joe Forbes followed with an error to put the Waves on top, 17-15. The Pepperdine run reached 6-2 when Nutkevitch was triple-blocked by Gaudino, Schleppenbach and Carroll. Gaudino and Carroll teamed up on game point to stuff Dan Hammer to seal the victory.
Pacific got out to a 4-0 lead in game three only to see Schleppenbach one of six Schleppenbach kills in the set tie the score at 7-all. Ten ties followed until a Forbes kill and a Pepperdine hitting error put the home team in front by a 20-18 score. Pepperdine quickly tied the score at 20-20 only to see the Tigers go back up by two 23-21. Grobe pulled the score back to even at 24-24 and ties at 25- and 26-all ensued. Nutkevitch's errant attack gave Pepperdine its first lead since 10-9 and set the Waves off on a 4-1 run to close out the match.
Pepperdine closes out the 2007 regular season next week when it hosts Cal State Northridge on Thursday at 7 p.m. PDT and UC Santa Barbara at the same time on Saturday. The Waves will then be idle until Thurs., April 26. Pepperdine is set to host the MPSF Championships for the second time in the last three years after claiming the regular season title.