Wexter's Five Aces Propels #9 Waves to 3-1 Win over Cal Baptist
Sophomore Michael Wexter tabbed a career-high five aces and senior Mitchell Penning led the team with a season-high seven blocks.
MALIBU, Calif.: – Michael Wexter plastered a career-high five aces on the leaderboard in Firestone Fieldhouse this Wednesday night, propelling the 9th-ranked Pepperdine men’s volleyball team to the first MPSF win of the season with a four-set win over Cal Baptist. The Waves tabbed 25-20, 23-25, 25-16 and 25-14 set scores to secure the victory.
Along with his aces, Wexter (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way West HS) tabbed seven kills, eight digs and three blocks to help the Pepperdine (3-2, 1-1 MPSF) effort.
The Waves were good for a .276 collective hitting percentage with 41 kills on 105 swings. Cal Baptist (2-6, 1-4 MPSF) tabbed 43 kills, but on 129 attempts for a .078 success rate against the home team. Pepperdine smoked down 10 aces, compared to the Lancers three, and produced 12.5 team blocks compared to the opposition’s 4.0.
Redshirt-sophomore David Wieczorek (Chicago, Ill./Loyola Academy) had a big offensive night for the Waves, picking up 15 kills on a .314 hitting percentage. He added an ace, six digs and two blocks including one solo rejection.
Senior Mitchell Penning (St. Louis, Mo./Westminster Christian Academy) had a season-high seven blocks, just one shy from tying his career-best, while adding five kills on a .714 success rate and an ace for the home team. Also in double-figure smashes was junior Alex Harthaller (Innsbruck, Austia/Akademischeg Gymnasium/IPFW), who produced 11 on top of a .242 offensive output. Harthaller added two aces, seven digs and three blocks including one solo effort.
Senior setter Joshua Stewart (San Jose, Calif./Bellarmine College Preparatory/Pacific) had a big night dishing out plays with 33 assists, and picking up the open drives with seven digs and four blocks. Junior Clay Carr (Costa Mesa, Calif./Newport Harbor HS) also tabbed three blocks with one solo block.
Cal Baptist began the match with a furry of defensive plays, pulling ahead 6-1 over the Waves. Pepperdine would not sit idly by, however, as the home team closed the gap and with a 14-5 run the Waves were looking at a 15-11 lead. The Lancers were not able to overcome Pepperdine’s strong offensive and defensive attacks and the home team prevailed after an ace by Harthaller and a kill, block, kill sequence from Wieczorek to go up 1-0 on the night.
The second set remained close throughout. Despite an early 4-1 from Pepperdine, Cal Baptist rallied back and tie the match 23-23. A pair of kills gave CBU the set and put the match at 1-1.
The Waves flipped the switch in the third set. After a point-for-point start en route to a 13-13 tie, Pepperdine started gaining momentum with a pair of block collaborations from Penning and Wexter to pull ahead 17-13 and put Wexter at the service line. The Illinois native was unstoppable through at five-point sequence that included three consecutive aces and gave the Waves a 22-15 advantage. In the next possession, Pepperdine put senior Max States (Honolulu, Hawai’i/Solimar Academy) at the service line and as he put the Lancers on their heels, Wieczorek delivered the final offensive blows with two kills for the 25-16 win.
In the final set, Pepperdine was confident once again, and after commanding a 9-5 lead to start the set, the Waves refused to slow down. Three blocks propelled the team forward and kills from Penning and Carr put the Waves ahead 17-8. At the 22-14 mark, States entered the match once again and an ace by his effort put the home team in closing position. Pepperdine earned the 3-1 victory with a commanding 25-14 final set victory.
Pepperdine will be back in Firestone Fieldhouse on Saturday, Jan. 28 as the Waves continue MPSF play with a bout against USC at 2 p.m. Follow Pepperdine @PeppVolleyball on Twitter and Facebook for immediate updates and head to PepperdineWaves.com for recaps, results and more.