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Pepperdine Opens NCAA Championships with Ohio State Thursday

May 3, 2005

MALIBU, Calif. - The Pepperdine men's volleyball team is headed back to the NCAA Championships for the third time in four years this week after earning the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) tournament title with a 3-0 victory over Long Beach State Saturday night.

Pepperdine (23-2) enters the championships as the top seed earning them the right to play against Ohio State (24-7) of the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA). The Waves enter this weekend's tournament winners of the last six matches and nine of the last 10.

MPSF Player of the Year Sean Rooney is a key component to this year's squad and hopes his third trip to the NCAA Championships is a charm as the Waves fell to Hawaii in the title match to end the 2002 season and dropped a five-game heart breaker to Lewis in 2003. The three-time American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-American is averaging a team-leading 5.32 kills per game with 47 service aces and 89 total blocks. John Parfitt adds 3.65 kills per game, while All-MPSF third team selection John Mayer checks in with 2.78.

The strength of the 2005 is its ability to block. All-MPSF second team selection Andy Hein leads a Pepperdine team which posted a conference-best 3.56 blocks per game. At 6-foot-10, Hein is the tallest player on the team and averages 1.60 blocks per game. Also patrolling the point of attack is sophomore Tom Hulse. Hulse is averaging 1.35 blocks per game.

True freshman Jonathan Winder was tabbed the conference's Newcomer of the Year in 2005 and has quarterbacked the Waves to a nation-leading .360 attack percentage.

OSU played its way into the championships with a 3-1 victory over IPFW in its conference championships last Saturday. Mark Graves leads the Buckeye offense with a team-best 4.34 kills per game and is hitting at a .328 clip. Layne Dreven (.481) is the most efficient hitter on an Ohio State team which averages 15.75 kills per game.

Thursday's match will be the 19th between the two schools as Pepperdine holds a 14-4 advantage. First serve is scheduled for 9 p.m. (PDT) at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion. The match will be aired Live on ESPNU and on a tape delay Friday morning on ESPN2.

The first national semifinal will pit Penn State against UCLA. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. Thursday's winners will advance to Saturday's national title match. Tickets can be purchased by calling the UCLA ticket office or at the gate the day of the match.