Pepperdine Advances to MPSF Final With 3-0 Win Over Top-Seeded Long Beach State

4/24/2008

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Long Beach, Calif. - An outstanding performance by the No. 5 Pepperdine men's volleyball team lifted the Waves to a three-game sweep (30-27, 30-22, 43-41) of top-seeded and No. 2 Long Beach State in the semifinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament on Thursday night at the Walter Pyramid.

The match featured a tremendous comeback in game one by the Waves (15-10), who trailed 22-14 at one point, and game three tied the second-longest in MPSF history. The 49ers (23-6) fought off 11 match points before it ended.

Pepperdine, the No. 5 seed, won its second straight tournament match on the road and now advances to the championship against either BYU or Cal State Northridge on Saturday (April 26) at 7 p.m. in Long Beach. Ticket prices are $15 for adults, $10 for youth and seniors and $5 for Pepperdine students. They are available through the LBSU Ticket Office (562-985-4949) or at www.longbeachstate.com.

The winner will receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, which are next week at UC Irvine.

Junior opposite Paul Carroll (Forster, Australia) continued his outstanding play with a match-high 21 kills, including 10 in the decisive game three. He was the only Wave in double-figures and it was his eighth straight match with 20+ kills. Senior setter Jonathan Winder (Irvine, Calif./Woodbridge HS) had 35 assists and six blocks.

Pepperdine outhit LBSU .289 to .233 and had a 15-8 edge in blocks. The 49ers hurt themselves with 32 service errors.

"It wasn't necessarily a perfectly played match, but it was hard played," Pepperdine Coach Marv Dunphy said. "We've seen Long Beach a few times and they're really good. I think the first couple of games they didn't play as well as they're capable. The key was that we came back from a rough start and played good volleyball at the end of game one."

Game one could have featured one of the most remarkable comebacks in tournament history. The host 49ers got off to a strong start and steadily grew their lead until it was 22-14. Everything changed at that point, however, as the Waves went on a 16-5 run to claim game one. Pepperdine tied it at 26-26 on a block by freshman middle blocker Tyler Jaynes (Granite Bay, Calif./Granite Bay HS) and Carroll, then went ahead for the first time on a LBSU attack error. After the 49ers tied it at 27-27, Long Beach State committed its 11th service error of the game, followed by a 49er hitting error. Junior outside hitter J.D. Schleppenbach (Ventura, Calif./Ventura HS) ended game one with a service ace. Both teams had hitting percentages around 19 percent in game one.

Despite first falling behind 3-1, the Waves continued their strong play into game two and took a 10-7 lead after another Schleppenbach ace. Carroll then had three kills during a 5-1 run, which made the score 15-9. A Winder block capped off a 4-0 run that made it 19-12. A service ace by freshman outside hitter Cory Riecks (Auburn, Calif./Placer HS) finished another 3-0 run, taking the lead to 28-19, and Pepperdine easily claimed game two. Carroll had six kills as the Waves hit .320, compared to .077 for the 49ers.

Game three was a classic that was the among the longest in MPSF history. The Waves scored the first two points and led for the first half of game three. They had a three-point lead at 11-8 after a block by Riecks and junior middle blocker Mark Hulse (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township HS/Rutgers-Newark). The 49ers tied the game at 16-16, and after the teams traded points for a while, Long Beach finally broke Pepperdine's advantage by taking a 24-23 lead, their first of the game. Three consecutive blocks by Pepperdine (Hulse and Winder were in on all three) put the Waves up 26-24, but the 49ers rallied back with four of the next five points to reclaim a 28-27 lead. Schleppenbach had a kill and a block to put the Waves up 29-28.

That was only the beginning, however, as the game went on and on as each team matched the other. The 49ers stopped the first 11 match point attempts, while the Waves held on two game points for LBSU. With the 49ers holding a 41-40 lead, Carroll had a kill, the 49ers had a hitting error, and Schleppenbach and Jaynes combined for a match-winning block.

"Both teams made great plays in game three," Winder said. "J.D. had a great block at the end. There were a lot of great plays and one super play at the right time ... Our guys are tough and we're coming together right now. We've gotten better and we've hung in there together."

Hulse had seven blocks, Jaynes had six and Schleppenbach finished with five.

Article courtesy of Pepperdine athletics.

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