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Pepperdine Holds off Pesky Saint Mary's Squad, 3-2

Nov. 9, 2006

MALIBU, Calif. - Despite putting up gaudy stats Thursday night, the Pepperdine women's volleyball team was pushed to the limit by Saint Mary's before pulling out the 3-2 (30-19, 25-30, 30-18, 28-30, 15-11) West Coast Conference (WCC) victory over the Gaels in Moraga, Calif.

Pepperdine (13-10, 9-3 WCC) was led by senior Sophia Milo (Portland, Ore.) and Julie Rubenstein (Camarillo, Calif.) who recorded 20 kills apiece. For Rubenstein, it marked a season-high, while Milo was just one off of tying her career-best effort of 21. Freshman Rachel Lumsden (Brea, Calif.) added 13 kills and digs for her team-leading 10th double-double, while Cassi Chamberlain (Lakewood, Calif.) and Kayla Walker (Kaysville, Calif.) each finished the night with 10.

Freshman setter Kiah Fiers (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.) logged eight kills to go along with 56 assists and 17 digs. Senior Kekai Crabbe (Honolulu, Hawaii) ended the night with 34 digs, one off her school record of 35 set earlier this season.

Missie Stidham's 20 kills paced Saint Mary's (9-13, 4-7 WCC), while Christina Kirk chipped in with 13.

Pepperdine wasted little time jumping out on Saint Mary's 5-1 in game five only to see the Gaels capitalize on four straight Wave errors and tie the frame at 5-5. Milo regained the lead for Pepperdine but Stidham answered to tie the game at 6-all. Consecutive kills by Crabbe and Chamberlain but the Waves up as the two teams switched ends of the court, 8-6. Stidham refused to let Pepperdine get away and evened the score at 8-8 with consecutive kills. The two teams traded the next four points before Cassandra Kolkka gave the home team its first lead of game five, 11-10. Rubenstein tied the set for the sixth time with her final kill. Stidham was errant in her attempt to knot the score and Milo drove the nail home with three straight kills and the 15-11 victory.

The Waves had no problems with the Gaels in game one, hitting at a .349 clip and limiting Saint Mary's to just .159. Pepperdine used an early 4-0 run to take a 4-1 lead it would never relinquish despite the Gaels pulling within one, 6-5. Lumsden and Rubenstein would record consecutive kills to start the visitors on a 6-1 run which was capped by a pair of Milo kills. With the game already in hand, the Waves scored eight of the final 11 points.

Game two was much closer but saw Pepperdine playing catch-up the entire way. Leading 10-8, Saint Mary's extended its lead to six with a 4-0 run. The Waves were not out of the set and slowly chipped away and following three strait kills Pepperdine trailed by one, 23-22. Saint Mary's maintained its lead to 26-25. Then the Gaels closed out the game with four consecutive points.

Out of the intermission, Pepperdine scored the first six points of game three and never looked back. Already ahead by seven, the Waves rattled off the next six points and never let up in taking a commanding 2-1 lead in the match.

The match appeared well on its way to being over early in game four as the Waves built a commanding 6-2 lead. But Pepperdine would let the Gaels off the hook, committing six hitting errors and two reception errors leading to a 9-0 Saint Mary's run. Pepperdine closed the gap to two, 16-14, before three straight kills and a Gaels' ace pushed the lead to six, 20-14. The Waves battled back again and finally tied the contest at 23-all as Rubenstein capped a 4-0 Pepperdine run. Saint Mary's pushed its lead back to two on a kill and a block before the Waves rallied back to knot the game at 26-26. The Gaels picked up a two-point advantage before the two teams traded points, forcing the decisive set.

The win keeps the Waves in sole possession of second place in the WCC standings a game up on Santa Clara and two back of San Diego. Pepperdine will wrap up the road portion of its league schedule Saturday when it travels to San Francisco for a 1 p.m. PT match against the Dons.