April 30, 2005
MALIBU, Calif. - The Pepperdine men's volleyball is headed back to the NCAA Championships for the third time in four years after downing up-start Long Beach State, 3-0 (31-29, 30-21, 30-27) before 2,107 fans Saturday night in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) championship match at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu, Calif.
Trailing by two, 22-20, in game three, Pepperdine's (23-2) John Parfitt's 13th kill of the night started what would be a 10-5 Wave's run to complete the team's first sweep of an opponent since April 2. With the win, Pepperdine joins Ohio State, Penn State and an at-large team in next week's NCAA Championships at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.
It was a total team effort down the stretch for Pepperdine as five different Waves recorded kills including MPSF Player of the Year Sean Rooney who logged the final two.
Long Beach State (22-10) led by as many as five, 18-13, midway through the final game but was unable to match the .514 attack percentage the Waves posted in the final stanza. A Jonathan Winder and Andy Hein block was followed by a solo stuff from Rooney of Yassir Sliti to cap off the night's wildest play and cut LBSU's lead to two at 19-17.
During the play both teams had numerous good looks only to see the opposing team scramble to keep the play alive. A 49er attack was barely kept alive by a diving James Ka. The dig sailed over the net into the waiting swing of Sliti who proceeded to deliver a punishing blow, but a heads up Rooney scrambled to the net and rejected the try.
The Pepperdine offense was in full swing Saturday night as the team turned in a .460 attack percentage compared to LBSU's .294. Rooney led all players with 16 kills on just 35 swings (.429), while Parfitt checked in with 13 and Hein and John Mayer each ended with 10. Hein did his damage with pin-point accuracy taking only 11 swings (.909) to break Greg Shankle's (.900) 15-year old school record for hitting percentage in a match, he also added a match-high eight blocks.
Pepperdine out-blocked The Beach by an 11.0-2.5 margin.
LBSU was paced by Robert Tarr's 12 kills. Three other 49ers ended the night in double figures as Duncan Budinger had 11, while Sliti and Teddy Liles each tuned in 10.
Game one started out in LBSU's favor as the team built up a five-point lead at 13-8 when Marv Dunphy called for a timeout. The Beach's lead would reach six at 16-10 before a Hein kill was followed by a Parfitt service ace and a pair of Pepperdine blocks closed the gap to one, 16-15. But LBSU would maintain its lead until an attack error by Tarr evened the game at 26-all. The stalemate continued until 28-28. That is when Hein and Winder teamed up for a block giving the Waves their first game point try. LBSU evened the game back up at 29-29 as Hein was called for being in the net, but a Parfitt kill on the next ball was followed by a Liles attack error putting Pepperdine up 1-0 in the match.
Long Beach looked to be feeling the effects of dropping game one and quickly fell behind in the second. Leading, 11-7, Pepperdine used a 7-2 run to push its lead up to eight, 18-10. LBSU cut the lead down to six at 26-20 but would give the Waves three of their final four points off miscues.
With three of the Final Four spots claimed Saturday, the 49ers will have to wait until Sunday morning to learn if their late-season run was good enough to earn them the lone at-large bid. ESPN will air the at-large selection and tournament pairings tomorrow morning between 12:30 and 1:00 p.m. (PDT).