#9 Waves Suffer Five-Set Loss to #4 UCLA
Senior Mitchell Penning posted a career-high nine blocks, including one solo rejection.
HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY | FINAL STATS
MALIBU, Calif.: – The 9th-ranked Pepperdine men’s volleyball team put in solid work and a big fight against 4th-ranked UCLA in Firestone Fieldhouse this Saturday night, eventually falling in a five-set showdown. After splitting the first four sets, 25-23, 19-25, 25-21, 23-25, the Bruins came out strong in the fifth for a 15-7 win to post the MPSF victory.
Senior setter Joshua Stewart (San Jose, Calif./Bellarmine College Prep/Pacific) impressed for the second-consecutive night, amassing his fourth career double-double with 39 assists and 11 digs. He also added a career best .667 hitting percentage on a 4-0-6 attack output and tabbed three blocks, including one solo towards the Waves’ effort.
Overall, the Waves (5-4, 3-3 MPSF) tabbed a .209 success rate with 51 kills on 139 swings. The Bruins (10-4, 7-3) hit for a .252 percentage with 64 kills on 143 attempts. Pepperdine out-blocked the opposition with 17.0 team blocks, compared to 11.5, but UCLA was good for five aces and 59 digs as opposed to the home team’s three aces and 46 digs.
Senior Mitchell Penning (St. Louis, Mo./Westminster Christian Academy) amassed a career-best nine blocks, including one solo rejection, while adding three smashes. Redshirt-sophomore David Wieczorek (Chicago, Ill./Loyola Academy) led the squad with 15 kills on a .237 attack ouput, while adding eight digs and two blocks.
Sophomore Michael Wexter (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way West HS) produced 14 kills, eight digs and three blocks. Junior libero Weston Barnes (Laguna Beach, Calif./Laguna Beach HS/George Mason) led the team with 14 digs and a solid 29 service receptions with not a single error.
Junior Alex Harthaller (Innsbruck, Austria/Akademischeg Gymnasium/IPFW) was good for a team-best three aces, along with four blocks and eight kills. Redshirt-junior Clay Carr (Costa Mesa, Calif./Newport Harbor HS) added five kills and five blocks.
The Waves stunned the Bruins to open the match in set one. After falling behind 11-7, the Waves started to work back in, but remained one-to-two points behind the opposition until the 20-21 mark. Carr put in four strong services to offset the Bruins and force three attack errors to give the Waves the edge and Pepperdine opened the night with a 25-23 set win.
In the second, the teams worked back-and-forth for a while, but UCLA ultimately had the edge with an early 12-8 lead. Pepperdine was unable to come back from the early deficit and the opposition evened the match with a 25-19 victory.
The energy was on both sides of the net in the third, with the Waves and Bruins going head-to-head through 8-8, 12-12 and 15-15 tied scores before the home team would surge forward. A combined block from Penning, Stewart and Harthaller, followed by a Carr, Wexter collaboration put the Waves ahead 22-18 down the back stretch. Stewart dished out back-to-back kills to Harthaller and Penning to pick up momentum, and a final smash from Harthaller put the Waves ahead 2-1 on the night with a 25-21 win.
UCLA picked up an 11-8 lead in the fourth, but the Waves were quick to tie things up 15-15 with a smash from Wexter. After exchanging advantages en route to a 21-21 tie, UCLA started to edge forward. Two kills from Wexter late in the set put the score at 23-24, but the Bruins put the set away 25-23 on a kill of the team’s own.
With the energy from the fourth-set win and an early ace in the fifth by the Bruins’ Micah Ma’a, the opposition had the enthusiasm and produced a 15-7 set score to shut the match down with a five-set victory.
Next up, Pepperdine hits the road to challenge Cal Baptist and USC at 7 p.m. on February 16 and 18 respectively. Follow Pepperdine @PeppVolleyball on Twitter and Facebook for immediate updates and head to PepperdineWaves.com for recaps, results and more.