April 12, 2007
MALIBU, Calif. - There was no let up in the Pepperdine Waves Thursday night. Even with the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation's (MPSF) top seed sewn up, they kept their win streak alive with a 3-0 (30-25, 30-28, 30-25) victory over the No. 8 Cal State Northridge Matadors at Firestone Fieldhouse.
Pepperdine improved to an NCAA best 24-1 overall and equaled the 2002 and 2005 Waves teams for most MPSF victories in a season with a 20-1 record. Pepperdine will look to set the conference record for wins with 21 in the regular season finale on Saturday night against UC Santa Barbara.
Dan Rhodes needed a match-high 38 swings to record 15 kills but was limited to just .132 hitting after being blocked five times. Kevin McKniff added nine kills for Northridge, which at 16-14 overall and 10-11 in conference play maintains its current sixth-place standing by one-half game over Hawaii in the MPSF.
Greg Gaudino and Jon Grobe opened the match by blocking Rhodes but the ensuing 5-0 Northridge run forced Pepperdine into an early timeout. The Waves didn't take long to get back in the match after a Schleppenbach kill evened the score at 7-7. Neither team gained any sizeable advantage until Gaudino extended a 23-22 Pepperdine lead with a kill that started the home team on a 5-1 run.
Pepperdine appeared to have seized control of game two, leading 18-12. But out of a timeout, Northridge mounted a 5-0 run to pull within one at 18-17. The game remained a one-point affair until Grobe and Hulse teamed up to stuff Rhodes and reserve setter Travis Bluemling got tangled in the net as part of a 3-0 Waves' run. The Matadors answered right back with a 3-0 run of their own to close the gap to 25-24 when Hulse and Jonathan Winder teamed up to stop an Eric Vance attempt. Pepperdine traded sideouts with Northridge the rest of the way in building a 2-0 lead in the match.
Northridge gained the early upper hand in game three and following consecutive kills from McKniff and Mike Gaudino, led 10-6. But Pepperdine used an 8-2 run to regain the lead 14-12. The Matadors used a 5-1 run moments later to take a 19-17 lead only to see Carroll drop three straight kills to give the Waves a 20-19 lead. From there it was all Waves as they closed out the match scoring 10 of the final 15 points, including the final four.
Pepperdine will honor its seven seniors Saturday night prior to its 7 p.m. PDT first serve against the No. 4 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Firestone Fieldhouse. The Gauchos have already locked up the MPSF tournament's fourth seed and will host the UCLA Bruins on Sat., April 21 in a quarterfinal match for the right to play Pepperdine in the tournament's semifinal match on April 26 in Malibu.