Waves Can't Stop Rally By #11 USC

MALIBU, Calif. – The #5 Pepperdine men’s volleyball team built a 2-0 lead, but #11 USC rallied for a 3-2 win (31-33, 25-30, 30-27, 31-29, 17-15) in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play at Firestone Fieldhouse on Saturday night.


The Trojans (13-13, 10-10) defeated the Waves (12-9, 11-9) in Malibu for the first time since 1999, ending a nine-match skid. USC fought off two match points in game four. Pepperdine dropped to 1-3 this season in five-game matches.


Pepperdine junior opposite Paul Carroll (Forster, Australia) had a match-high 33 kills and surpassed the 30-kill mark for the second straight match and the third time this season. Freshman outside hitter Cory Riecks (Auburn, Calif./Placer HS) added 23 kills (one shy of his career high) and hit .500. Senior setter Jonathan Winder (Irvine, Calif./Woodbridge HS) had his sixth double-double with 67 assists and 10 digs.


Five Trojans reached double-figures in kills, led by senior outside hitter Juan Figueroa’s 29 and freshman outside hitter Murphy Troy’s 18. Freshman outside hitter Tri Bourne had a double-double with 11 kills and 20 digs.


Pepperdine outhit USC for the match, .329 to .315.


Game one was tied 20-20, but the Waves scored five of the next six points to make it 25-21. The Trojans were undeterred and rallied to tie the game at 27-27.  Even though Pepperdine had game point at 29-27, USC tied it again after back-to-back kills by Figueroa. Pepperdine finally ended game one after a kill by Carroll and a solo block by junior middle blocker Mark Hulse (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township HS/Rutgers-Newark). The Waves outhit the Trojans .464 to .279. USC’s Figueroa had 10 kills in game one.


The Waves took a quick 4-1 lead in game two as Carroll had a pair of kills. Their biggest lead was seven points at 15-8 and 16-9. The Trojans tried to rally late and got to within three points, first at 21-18 and last at 28-25, but Carroll ended the game with a kill and a service ace. Carroll had seven kills in game two. Hitting percentages dipped to .258 for Pepperdine and .129 for USC.


The Trojans got off to the fast start in game three and led 6-2. Pepperdine rallied to tie the game at 10-10 and it stayed tied at every other point until it was 19-19, when the Trojans scored twice to make it 21-19. Later, back-to-back kills by Figueroa made it 27-23, and USC held on to claim game three. Hitting percentages were almost identical, with the Trojans holding a .457-.452 edge. Carroll had a game-high eight kills.


The Waves could have put the Trojans away in game four, as they held two match points at 29-27. But Figueroa nailed two straight kills, and after a Pepperdine attack error, Figueroa sent down yet another kill to finish the 4-0 run and earn a game four win for USC. The Trojans outhit the Waves .444 to .286. Carroll had 10 kills in game four.


USC took a 3-1 lead in the decisive game five after a block by Figueroa and senior middle blocker Andrew Vernon, then went up 5-2 after a service ace by senior setter Jimmy Killian. Pepperdine was able to tie the match at 8-8 after consecutive Trojan hitting errors. After a USC timeout, however, the Trojans scored the next two points on a Troy kill and a Wave attack error to retake a two-point lead at 10-8, and then went up 12-9.


The Waves came back again, as Riecks had a pair of kills and Pepperdine tied the match at 13-13. Tied 15-15, USC ended the match with kills by Troy and sophomore middle blocker Hunter Current. Troy had a team-high four kills in game five and USC had a .217-.150 edge in hitting.


The Waves finish the regular season with two home matches next weekend (Friday and Saturday, April 11-12) against Hawaii. Both matches are at 7 p.m.




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