Sept. 14, 2006
MALIBU, Calif. - For the fourth time in nine matches the 20th-ranked Pepperdine women's volleyball team went five games with its opponent as the Waves rallied from a 2-0 hole before falling, 3-2 (30-20, 30-24, 24-30, 23-30, 15-12) to No. 9 USC Thursday night at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu, Calif.
Pepperdine's (4-5) Sophia Milo (Portland, Ore.) overcame a slow start to the night to lead all players with 20 kills, on a match-leading .581 hitting, and four blocks. Freshman Rachel Lumsden (Brea, Calif.) added 18 kills and Sophomore Julie Rubenstein (Camarillo, Calif.) tacked on 11 for the Waves. Freshman Kayla Waker (Kaysville, Utah) posted a career-best 12 kills, on .312 hitting, with five blocks. Kiah Fiers (Palos Verdes, Calif.) and Cassi Chamberlain (Lakewood, Calif.) each finished the night with six blocks, while Pepperdine as a team totaled 13.5.
USC (10-0) received 19 kills from Diane Copenhagen, 16 from Asia Kaczor and 10 from Bethany Johansen and held a .240-.192 hitting edge over the Waves. The Women of Troy also finished the night with a slim 14.0-13.5 lead in blocks.
The Trojans came out on a mission in game one and after an 8-1 run early in the set, USC never looked back. For the frame, the visitors hit at a .387 clip, while Pepperdine committed 11 hitting errors with only 10 kills for a minus .023 percentage.
USC continued to apply pressure on the Waves in game two, using a 4-0 run to take a 5-3 lead. Pepperdine answered as Lumsden started a 4-0 run will a kill the pushed the home team up by two, 7-5. The game was mostly a sideout battle from that point as the Trojans never let the Waves run away and Pepperdine never led USC gain a lead. Following consecutive kills from Milo broke a 20-20 stalemate, the Trojans burned their final timeout.
"We were up and we should have been out of there," said head coach Nina Matthies about the end of game two. "We had [the game], then we made errors. That is what I told the kids. We are doing some great things and we are learning. We are playing some incredible volleyball at times then we turn around and make five errors in a row. And that is what is killing us right now."
In taking a 2-0 lead in the match, USC used five Pepperdine hitting errors and a reception error to close out the game on a 10-2 run.
The Waves fell behind early in game three but instead of mailing the match in, Pepperdine received consecutive kills from Walker, Rubenstein and Fiers to pull within one, 11-10. Coming out of a media timeout, Walker recorded a pair of kills, Milo and Rubenstein chipped in with a kill each and the Waves had taken a three-point, 19-16 lead. USC knotted the game at 20-all and again at 21-21. With the score even at 23-23, USC's Katelyn Bishop's service error opened the flood gates. A 7-1 run by Pepperdine off kills from Lumsden, Chamberlain, Rubenstein and Walker pushed the match to a fourth game and had the home team in control of momentum.
Game four was all Pepperdine. The Waves limited USC to just .061 hitting, while recording 17 kills of their own lead by Milo's five kills on five swings. Pepperdine jumped out to a 10-5 lead in the game and looked like they would run the Trojans out of the gym the rest of the match. But USC was not ready to go away quietly. A 7-2 run evened the game at 12-12. The Waves reclaimed a three-point advantage before the Trojans battled back to lock the score at 20-20. In scoring 11 of the next 15 points in the game, Pepperdine had successfully tied the match at two games each.
Pepperdine was poised to top the Trojans for a second consecutive time after taking a 6-4 lead in the fifth frame.
"We were up and then we make three errors in a row," said Matthies. "I thought we would change sides leading 8-6 or 8-5. Then all the sudden it is 8-6, them. You can't scratch and claw in game five, you have to come out hard in that game, get ahead and stay ahead."
USC took a 12-7 lead as the Waves started to see their upset bid coming up short. Pepperdine put up one last fight with a 3-0 run before fighting off a Trojans' match point, but in the end it was not enough.
The Waves will return to action Saturday night when it hosts No. 14 Purdue at 7 p.m. (PDT). Preceding the match Pepperdine will welcome back several of its former greats during the Blue v. Orange Alumni Match. The two teams of former players will begin at 3:30 p.m.