Waves Knock Out CSUN in MPSF Semifinals


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IRVINE, Calif. - Senior opposite Paul Carroll had 33 kills and 16 digs to lead the #2 Pepperdine men's volleyball team to a come-from-behind 3-1 victory (27-30, 40-38, 30-26, 30-23) over #3 Cal State Northridge in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament semifinal match at the Bren Events Center on Thursday night.

The Waves (22-4) fought off six game points in the marathon second game in order to avoid going into a 2-0 hole against the Matadors (24-7), and once they seized momentum, they had a much easier time of it in games three and four. The victory moves Pepperdine into the MPSF final on Saturday night at 7 p.m. against #5 USC, which shocked #1 UC Irvine with a three-game victory in Thursday's other semifinal.

It also puts Pepperdine one step forward to a berth in the four-team NCAA Championships, which will be contested on May 7-9 in Provo, Utah. The winner of Saturday night's final will receive an automatic berth.

Though Carroll (Forster, Australia) - who broke his own school single-season record for kills in the rally-scoring era and now has 624 this year - shouldered much of the load as usual, sophomore setter Kasey Crider (Granite Bay, Calif./Granite Bay HS) was able to effectively spread the ball around the rest of the time. He collected 70 assists and also had 10 digs.

Outside hitters Matt McKee (Aurora, Ill./Aurora West HS) and Cory Riecks (Auburn, Calif./Placer HS) had 13 and 12 kills, respectively. McKee had a double-double with 11 digs and was close to a triple-double with eight block assists. Middle blockers Tyler Jaynes (Granite Bay, Calif./Granite Bay HS) and Rodnei Santos (Sao Paulo, Brazil/BYU) both had nine kills and eight block assists.

Junior libero Sean Grubbs (Newport Beach, Calif./Newport Harbor HS/Irvine Valley CC) was one of four Waves in double-figure digs with 10.

The Waves finished with a .333-.283 hitting advantage and a 17.5-9.0 edge in blocks. Four Matadors had double-figure kills, led by 31 by Eric Vance.

"We had a game plan, we stuck to it and it paid off for us," Carroll said. "The momentum changed a lot after the second game. Our blocking, with Rodnei and Tyler, slowed them down. This was a big stage and I'm happy we pulled it out."

After CSUN broke a 7-7 tie with three straight points, the Waves spent most of the rest of the first game playing catch-up. A kill by Riecks and a block by Santos and Crider would tie the game at 13-13, but the Matadors then scored six of the next seven points to break out to a 19-14 lead. The Waves attempted another comeback, getting two consecutive kills by Riecks and another by Santos to pull within one point at 23-22, but CSUN came out of a timeout by scoring the next three points. The Waves got back to within one again at 28-27 after a Matador hitting error, but Mike Gaudino recorded the game's final two points on kills. CSUN outhit Pepperdine .409 to .273 in the first game.

The Waves led for most of game two, then held on to win in a superb end-of-game effort. Pepperdine went up by five points at 11-6 and was still up by three at 26-23. CSUN would tie the game up at 28-28, however. Both teams had several chances and several close calls during the extended play. The Matadors served on game point six times, while the Waves did it five times. The Matadors held a 38-37 lead and had a couple of swings to take a 2-0 lead, but the point ended on a block by Santos and Riecks. A Carroll kill put Pepperdine back in front 39-38, and CSUN's Vance had a cross-court shot go wide on the next point to allow the Waves to claim game two. Carroll had 15 kills in the second game alone as the Waves had a slight .232 to .219 hitting edge.

There wasn't nearly the drama in the third game as the Waves jumped out to an early lead and never let up to take a 2-1 lead. Pepperdine scored repeatedly off its serve to take a 10-5 lead. Although CSUN cut the deficit to one point at 13-12, the Waves' blocking led to an impressive 6-0 run that saw five Matador hitting errors, three on Wave blocks. Jaynes was in on all three, teaming up with McKee twice and Crider once. That gave Pepperdine a 19-12 advantage and CSUN got no closer than the final margin. Carroll had seven more kills as the Waves increased their hitting to .371, compared to .256 for the Matadors.

In the fourth game, CSUN led for the first and only time at 1-0. After it was tied 4-4, the Waves took the lead for good at 7-4 after a kill by Carroll and two kills by McKee. Riecks had a kill and a block assist in another 3-0 run that later pushed the lead to 16-10. Pepperdine's fourth 3-0 run of the game, which saw kills by McKee and Carroll and a block by Jaynes and Crider, made the score 20-13. The Matadors got no closer than five points the rest of the way. In the fourth game, the Waves had 18 kills and just one hitting error for a .548 hitting percentage, while CSUN was held to .333.

Prior to Saturday night's MPSF final, Pepperdine's seniors will take part in graduation on the Malibu campus before returning to Irvine for the match.

courtesy Pepperdine athletics

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