#5 Waves Trump #8 Loyola Chicago in Five-Set Thriller
Michael Wexter had a career-high night with 22 kills on a .405 success rate in front of 1,322 fans at Gentile Arena.
CHICAGO, Ill.: – The 5th-ranked Pepperdine men’s volleyball team had another exciting five-set match-up in front of 1,322 fans this Friday night at Gentile Arena as the Waves downed 8th-ranked Loyola Chicago for the second win of the season.
Loyola took the first advantage with a 25-18 set, but Pepperdine evened things up in the second with a close 25-23 edge. The Ramblers then won the third 25-19, but the Waves were good for a 25-21 second set score. Then, after working back-and-forth in the fifth, Pepperdine prevailed with a 15-11 victory to earn the overall win.
With the 2-2 tied heading into the final set, both teams were looking to make the impactful first points. The Ramblers produced a 6-3 advantage early, fueled by a strong offense, but after a Waves’ timeout and head coach Marv Dunphy’s words in the huddle the team came out strong. Pepperdine evened the score at the 8-8 mark, and then started to work the edge, producing a 4-1 run over the opposition to pull ahead 12-9.
Senior Max States (Honolulu, Hawai’i/Solimar Academy) then put in his serving prowess to put the Ramblers off-kilter and allow Pepperdine’s Michael Wexter (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way West HS) to pick up his career-high 22nd kill of the night for the 15-11 Waves’ win.
The Waves improved to 2-0 on a .310 hitting percentage after amassing 71 kills with only 22 errors on 158 attempts. The team added 67 assists, three aces, 51 digs and 8.0 team blocks. In opposition, the Ramblers (2-2) posted 62 kills with 15 errors on 137 attempts for a .343 hitting percentage. LUC also added 59 assists, 54 digs and 11.5 blocks with one ace on the night.
Sophomore Wexter, who grew up just 25-miles south of Chicago and who’s brother is an assistant coach for the Ramblers, highlighted the night with a massive career-high performance. He tabbed a career-best 22 kills on 42 attempts for a .405 hitting percentage, while also leading his career performances with eight digs.
Junior Alex Harthaller (Innsbruck, Austria/Akademischeg Gymnasium/IPFW) and freshman Noah Dyer (San Clemente, Calif./Saddleback Valley Christian HS) also hit for big double-figure kills. Harthaller tallied 18 kills on a .237 output, while adding seven digs, three blocks and an ace. Dyer was good for 16 kills on a .325 success rate and added four digs.
Seniors Joshua Stewart (San Jose, Calif./Bellarmine College Prep/Pacific) and Soren Dion-Kindem (Agoura Hills, Calif./Agoura HS) led the team in playmaking duties with 37 and 25 respectively. Stewart added seven digs, while Dion-Kindem produced his third career and first 2017 double-double with 11 digs, while posting an ace.
Senior Mitchell Penning (St. Louis, Mo./Westminster Christian Academy) produced nine kills on a .381 attack percentage and added five digs and three blocks. Redshirt-sophomore and hometown Chicagoan David Wieczorek (Chicago, Ill./Loyola HS) led the squad with four blocks and put up seven digs.
Junior Owen Yoshimoto (Ventura, Calif./Adolfo Camarillo HS/Santa Barbara CC) also picked up seven digs on the night and States finished with an ace late in the fifth set. Sophomore Max Chamberlain (Burbank, Calif./John Burroughs HS) amassed four kills and two blocks.
The energy was high on both sides of the court to start that match. After both teams hit the 8-8 mark early, Loyola Chicago started to pull away, advancing by a small margin to a 12-11 lead. Despite a strong Pepperdine effort and a small one-point deficit at the 17-18 mark, the Ramblers pulled ahead on the home stretch en route to a 25-18 set one win.
Pepperdine came out strong in the second, however, intent on tying the match. The Waves posted a 10-8 lead on a kill by Dyer in the middle of the set, and continued to maintain the advantage until the home team tied the set at the 21-21 mark. A pair of back-to-back Wexter smashes and a big serve from States helps the Waves to a 25-23 victory to tie things up heading into the third.
After another 8-8 tie, the Ramblers pulled away to a 17-11 lead. Pepperdine inched towards the end line, coming within a four-point spread at the 21-17 and 22-18 marks, but LUC finished out the set with a 25-19 set win to go up 2-1 on the night.
The Waves went off to start the fourth set, totaling a 10-4 lead early on, fueled by three Mitchell Penning smashes. LUC came back within two at the 20-18 mark, but the Waves had the energy and solid fan support in the stands to root States on to an ace. Followed by back-to-back Penning, Wieczorek rejections on the defensive and a forced error across the net, the Waves won the set 25-21 to take the match to the fifth.
Tomorrow, the Waves will trek 25 miles south of the city to take on 9th-ranked Lewis at the Neil Carey Arena in Romeoville, Ill. at 5 p.m. (PT). Follow Pepperdine @PeppVolleyball on Twitter and Facebook for immediate updates and head to PepperdineWaves.com for recaps, results and more.