No. 3 Pepperdine Tops the No. 4 Trojans, 3-0


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MALIBU, Calif. - The No. 3 Pepperdine men's volleyball team (6-0, 5-0 MPSF) blanked No. 4 USC (5-2, 2-1) 3-0 Friday night at Firestone Fieldhouse. The Waves won by scores of 30-28, 30-24 and 30-19, giving them a third straight home shutout.

With the victory, Pepperdine is off to its best start since 2004 (also a 6-0 start) and have defeated the Trojans in five of their last six meetings. The Waves were once again led by senior Paul Carroll (Forster, Australia/Great Lakes College) with 14 kills and a .333 hitting percentage, but the key statistic according to head coach Marv Dunphy was the blocking differential as Pepperdine jumped up to block 18.5 shots compared to USC's 4.5.

"We were blocking to side out and that was the difference in the match because we were able to do it so much better," Dunphy said. "This is a good early season win, but it's still only January and there's a lot more of the season left to go."

Sophomore Tyler Jaynes (Granite Bay, Calif./Granite Bay HS) led all players with eight block assists, while junior Rodnei Santos and Carroll each came through with seven. Sophomore Kasey Crider (Granite Bay, Calif./Granite Bay HS) and senior Matt McKee (Aurora, Ill./Aurora West HS) were each credited with solo blocks.

The Trojans were hard to rattle through the first two sets, but they came apart late in the third as the crowd of more than 2,400 kept up their chant of, "broken, broken!" Junior Sean Pederson's (Evergreen Park, Ill./Mount Carmel HS/Cal State Northridge) service ace with Pepperdine already leading 23-17 sent the Men of Troy reeling as they proceeded to commit three straight attack errors and had two more shots blocked over the next six points. The last of the Trojan miscues gave Pepperdine its largest lead of the night at 11 points with the score 29-18.

After hitting .263 and .233 in the first two sets, respectively, USC fell to a -.049 hitting percentage in the final frame. For the Waves, they hit .188 in the first set, .333 in the second and .265 in the third.

In the first set, Pepperdine held a four-point lead early on at 12-8 only to see the Trojans come back from that deficit and tie the score six times at the 14, 18, 19, 20, 25 and 26-point marks. The Waves eventually caught a break late in the set when a Crider service error was followed in kind by one off the hand of Brad Keenan, giving Pepperdine a 29-27 lead; then McKee delivered the decisive kill one point after being blocked by Riley McKibbin and Austin Zahn.

Pepperdine again jumped out to an early lead in the second set, but no matter how many times the Trojans fought back to tie the score, they were never able to grab the lead at any point. The Waves called a timeout right after USC knotted the set at 21-21 and responded with back-to-back kills from Santos and Carroll. At the other end, the Trojans did little to help their cause as errors by Hunter Current, Murphy Troy and Tony Ciarelli pushed Pepperdine's lead back to four points at 26-22. Kills from Jaynes, Sophomore Cory Riecks (Auburn, Calif./Placer HS) and Carroll sealed the set for good.

"I felt it was a very hard-played match between the two teams at the beginning, but not very well played at the same time; there were a lot of unforced errors on both sides," Dunphy said. "And as a team, we took turns playing well with different players coming through for us in critical situations. I can specifically remember Casey providing several key blocks."

In addition to his one solo block, Crider was at the net to block five other shots, including four in the third set. He also provided 34 assists and led all Waves with 11 digs

USC committed 25 errors at the net and 19 from the service line while Pepperdine's respective totals in these categories were 15 and 10.

Elsewhere in the box score, Riecks finished the three-game sweep with 11 kills and McKee delivered eight. Ciarelli led USC with 12 kills and delivered an ace.

Pepperdine's next contest is its annual Alumni Match, which will take place Saturday, Feb. 7 at noon.

Article courtesy of Pepperdine athletics.

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