Pacific Bids Farewell To Senior Class, Falls To No. 6 UCLA In Three


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Stockton, Calif. - The Pacific men's volleyball concluded its 2008 season with a 30-24, 30-23, 30-23 loss to No. 6 UCLA on Saturday, Apr. 12, at the Alex G. Spanos Center. With the loss, the Tigers finished the 2008 campaign 4-24 overall and 1-21 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation action.

The Tigers stepped onto the court Saturday night with emotions riding high. For three members of the Pacific team, Simon Chen-Byerley (Northfield, Ill.), Blake Gentry (Ladera Ranch, Calif.) and Pekka Seppanen (Kuopio, Finland), it was their final match of their Pacific careers, and the last time they would put on the orange and black.

Game one started off difficult for the Tigers, as they fell into an early 7-2 hole to the Bruins behind a service ace from Ryan Ratelle. Errors plagued Pacific over the next few points as UCLA jumped out to a six point lead, 10-4 using three consecutive Tiger errors as a launching point.

After a timeout the Tiger offense woke up, and the team was able to bring the score within five, down 12-7, behind a kill from Seppanen. The teams began to trade kills back and forth for a while, as both offenses refused to back down. The score arrived at 15-10 Bruin lead, after a service ace by Seppanen.

From here, UCLA began to show their dominance, as they scored 10 of the next 20 points to make continue their lead at 25-20. UCLA never let the Tigers closer then five points the rest of the game, and closed out game one 30-24 with a kill from Sean O'Malley on the outside.

The second game started off in similar fashion to the first, with the Tigers struggling out of gate early. Overwhelmed by a dominant UCLA offensive attack, Pacific found themselves trailing 10-4. The Tigers called time-out and it proved to be just what they needed.

Pacific rallied to score five of the next seven points, and bring the Tigers within three, down 12-9. The Bruins, recognizing the Tiger resurgence, decided to take matters into their own hands and put an end to the Tigers. UCLA's offense kept Pacific at bay the rest of the game, leading by as many as seven at one point, 24-17.

Several more errors hurt the Tigers' chances of making a comeback, as a service error by Pacific, gave UCLA game point, 29-23. Garrett Muagututia killed a ball from the outside to end the game, 30-23.

With their backs against the wall, Pacific came out swinging to start game three. Roaring out to 4-0 lead behind a service ace from Seppanen, UCLA was forced to call a timeout and re-group. The Bruins mounted a scoring run of their own, but once again the Tigers retaliated with and offense resurgence. Consecutive kills by sophomore Jason Borchin (Roseville, Calif.), Seppanen, and Gentry, gave Pacific a 9-4 lead in the game.

The honeymoon would not last long however, as UCLA battled back with two kills from O'Malley to come within one, 14-13. More errors crippled the Tigers' play, and gave the Bruins the lead, after a service ace by D.J. Stromath, 16-14. Pacific never recovered, and momentum left the floor, as the Tigers fell behind by six, 23-17. Again, the UCLA firepower proved to be too much, as Pacific struggled to mount any sort of comeback. The Bruins closed out the game, match, and the Tigers' season, 30-23.

Pacific's seniors, Chen-Byerley, Gentry, and Seppanen combined for 27 kills on the night in their final match of their Tiger careers.

UCLA was led by O'Malley, who buried 18 kills for the Bruins.

The Tigers concluded their season Saturday night, and bid farewell to their seniors at the Alex G. Spanos Center.

Article courtesy of Pacific athletics.

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