Pepperdine Holds Off USC in Five Set Thriller

Nikola Antonijevic & Josh Taylor

April 5, 2014

Final Stats

Box Score: Pepperdine 3, USC 2Get Acrobat Reader

MALIBU, Calif. – Behind a solid defensive performance, the #3 Pepperdine men’s volleyball team held off #8 USC and was victorious in five sets on Saturday night inside Firestone Fieldhouse. Matt Tarantino was a force to be reckoned with at the net with a career-high 11 blocks, while Josh Taylor paced the offense with 18 kills.

With the 25-18, 21-25, 25-19, 14-25, 15-11 victory, the Waves move to 16-6 and are one match closer to securing home court advantage in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals. In the midst of a heated MPSF standings race, there are still a number of scenarios that could clinch home court advantage for Pepperdine prior to its next match. However, the Waves can control their own destiny with at least one win in a home-and-home vs. Hawaii next week Friday and Saturday.

USC concludes its regular season with a 16-10 record, including a 14-10 mark in MPSF play. The Trojans’ conference tournament hopes now rest on the outcome of the remaining league matches.

Tarantino (Van Nuys, Calif./Bishop Alemany) kept the USC attackers at bay tonight, posting a career-high 11 blocks and slowing down countless attacks to give Pepperdine defenders a better chance at digging a ball. Overall, the Malibu Roofing Company out-blocked the Trojans 16.5-8.0.

Although the visiting team out-killed the Waves 64-52, Pepperdine committed five fewer attack errors. The Trojans were further hindered back service errors with 20 – including one at match point – while the Waves served out 13.

Taylor (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou School) was once again the go-to offensive option, and the junior capitalized with a team-high 18 kills.

Kyle Gerrans (Los Gatos, Calif./Valley Christian HS) and J.J. Mosolf (Saugus, Calif./Hart HS/Hawaii), who was started in place of Parker Kalmbach (Coto de Caza, Calif./Tesoro HS), both finished the night with nine put aways.

“I thought J.J. was steady tonight when we needed it most,” said head coach Marv Dunphy. “With the lights on he did real well.”

Matt West (Seattle, Wash./Shorewood HS) handed out 42 assists, while picking up 12 digs for his seventh double-double of the season. He further aided the Waves with five kills and four blocks.

Libero Brennan Anderson (Newport Beach, Calif./Corona Del Mar HS/Ohio State) was perfect through 23 serve receive attempts, and added eight digs on defense.

It was a close knit battle in the opening points of the first set. Down 4-6, the Waves evened the score on a diving save by West that curved its way around the up official and the antennae to land in no man’s land on the USC side of the floor.

Tied 11-11, the Waves’ defense took over. After Gerrans and Tarantino blocked Tanner Jansen, the tried and true Malibu Roofing Company scored on the block or forced an attack error on the next six-consecutive points to take an 18-11 advantage.

Nikola Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson HS) terminated the final kill to put set one in the books, 25-18. The Waves collected 4.5 total blocks in the frame. Tarantino was present for every roof, while Gerrans assisted on three.

Attack errors hindered Pepperdine in set two. USC took an early 10-7 lead and would not trail again en route to a 25-21 triumph.

The Waves returned the favor in the third, making a 4-0 run to break up a 10-10 tie. Behind five team blocks while hitting .500 on the offensive end, Pepperdine put the frame away 25-19.

Unfortunately, the fourth set went every which way but right for the Waves and USC extended the match to a fifth stanza with the 25-14 win.

The deciding set went back and forth until Antonijevic solo blocked Andy Benesh to make it 5-3. Pepperdine further extended its lead when Tarantino and Gerrans teamed up for the roof to force the Trojans to call for time at 10-7. Although USC blocked back a Gerrans attack out of the timeout, the ball traveled high enough for Tarantino to take a quick second-chance swing which traveled to the floor for the kill untouched.

Up 14-9, the Trojans scored on back-to-back points, prompting Dunphy to call for a timeout. The pause in the action successfully iced USC’s server, Christopher Orenic, who sent his jump serve into the net to put point No. 15 in the board for Pepperdine.

Pepperdine concludes the regular season next week with a pair of matches vs. Hawaii on April 11 and April 12. Senior Day will be celebrated prior to the match on Saturday, recognizing the careers of Gerrans, Leonardo Granato (Reseda, Calif./Pierce College) and Ryan Plueger (Los Angeles, Calif./Harvard-Westlake School)



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