No. 7 Pepperdine Sweeps Previously Unbeaten No. 3 Long Beach State
Malibu, Calif. - The return of All-American Paul Carroll helped spark the No. 7 Pepperdine men's volleyball team to its biggest victory of the season, as the Waves swept previously unbeaten and N0. 3-ranked Long Beach State, 30-26, 30-24, 35-33, in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation action on Wednesday night in Firestone Fieldhouse.
Carroll (Forster, Australia), a junior opposite who was an All-American first teamer a year ago, played in his first match since Jan. 12 after recovering from a fractured right (non-hitting) hand suffered in an off-court mishap. He missed the previous eight matches (Pepperdine went 3-5 without him). After coming off the bench late in game one and getting off to a slow start, Carroll finished with 13 kills on 27 swings and hit .370.
Pepperdine improved to 6-5 overall and 6-5 in the MPSF, while Long Beach State dropped to 9-1, 7-1. Without Carroll, the Waves suffered a three-game defeat in Long Beach two weeks ago.
Senior setter Jonathan Winder (Irvine, Calif./Woodbridge HS), last season's national player of the year, had 46 assists and directed Pepperdine to a season-best .483 team hitting percentage. Freshman outside hitter Cory Riecks (Auburn, Calif./Placer HS) recorded a match-high 17 kills and hit .600 for the Waves.
"The guys have been practicing really well, and we've been playing pretty well lately, but not getting wins," Pepperdine Coach Marv Dunphy said. "But tonight we sided out pretty well and hit pretty well. Paul was a little rusty but obviously he's a fine player and he got to practice a little yesterday. I didn't want to start him because I didn't think he could last the entire match, but he did pretty well and we were encouraged with what we saw."
Long Beach State got 16 kills from Paul Lotman and 15 kills from Dean Bittner. The 49ers hit .411 as a team.
The Waves built a 17-12 lead in game one after recording 12 kills on their first 14 swings. However, the 49ers responded with a 6-0 run to grab a one-point lead. Tied 23-23, the Waves got an edge after back-to-back kills by junior middle blocker Eric Liebert (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou School) and Riecks. Game one ended on a service ace by junior middle blocker Mark Hulse (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township HS/Rutgers-Newark). Long Beach State hit a blistering .519 while Pepperdine wasn't far behind at .448.
Tied 16-16 in game two, the Waves ran off five straight points. Liebert had a kill and a service ace and the 49ers committed a couple of attacking errors. Long Beach State got within two points a couple of times, but after taking a 27-24 lead, the Waves scored the final three points of the game. Pepperdine continued to hit well at a .444 clip, compared to .296 for the 49ers.
A 4-0 run near the start of game three gave Pepperdine an 8-4 lead, and the Waves still led by four points at 20-16. But Long Beach State rallied in the latter half of the game and actually had three game points at 29-28, 30-29 and 32-31. The Waves staved off each one, however, and broke a 33-33 tie with a kill by Liebert, and the match ended on a 49er attack error. Pepperdine hit .545 in game three compared to .415 for Long Beach State.
The Waves next host UC San Diego this Saturday (Feb. 16) at 2 p.m.
Article courtesy of Pepperdine athletics.