#5 Pepperdine to Host USC in MPSF Tournament Quarterfinal
The Waves have a 25-19 all-time record when playing in the MPSF Tournament.
MALIBU, Calif. – The No. 5 Pepperdine men’s volleyball team opens postseason action on Saturday with a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament quarterfinal matchup against USC in Firestone Fieldhouse.
MATCH 23 – Saturday (April 14) at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu, Calif.: No. 5 Pepperdine vs. USC at 7 p.m. (PT) | Watch: MPSF Live Stream ($).
UP NEXT – Pending a win in the quarterfinal win on Saturday, the Waves would venture to Provo, Utah for the MPSF Tournament semifinal and final on April 19 and 21.
MPSF TOURNAMENT – This is the 24th season the Waves have earned a bid to the MPSF Tournament, dating back to 1993. The Waves have won four-MPSF tournament titles and host an all-time MPSF Tournament record of 25-19. The last time Pepperdine played in the MPSF finals was in 2015 against top-seeded and top-ranked UC Irvine.
This season, the Waves enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed, with BYU earning the top-spot and UCLA coming in as the No. 2 seed. Concordia, Irvine will host the first round as the No. 4 seed along with UCLA and Pepperdine. Grand Canyon, USC and Stanford round out the 5-7 seeding for the tournament. BYU will host the following semifinal and final rounds in Provo.
THE NO. 5 WAVES – Pepperdine ranks fifth in the AVCA coaches poll this week. The Waves hold a 15-7 overall record and an 8-4 conference output this after the completion of the regular season. As a team, the Waves average 12.54 kills/set, 11.84 assists/set, 1.90 aces/set 7.94 digs/set and 2.42 blocks/set this season. Pepperdine attackers have amassed a .295 success rate, while allowing opponents .257 on the offensive. The team also allows opponents 11.35 kills/set, along with 10.78 assists/set, 1.01 aces/set, 8.27 digs/set and 2.13 blocks/set against them.
David Wieczorek leads the offensive with 3.94 kills/set on a .358 success rate, while also leading the effort with 0.59 aces/set after finding the floor for a team-high 41 aces this year which ties for sixth in the Pepperdine men’s volleyball rally scoring era all-time records for most aces in a single season. He adds 1.19 digs/set and 0.77 blocks/set as well. Alex Harthaller and Colby Harriman each post 3.04 and 2.75 kills/set and 0.35 and 0.32 aces/set respectively. Harthaller is also good for 1.39 digs/set and 0.67 blocks/set, while Harriman puts up 0.94 digs/set and 0.68 blocks/set for the Waves.
Robert Mullahey leads in the playmaking duties with 10.53 assists/set this season, while amassing 1.46 digs/set, 0.41 blocks/set and 0.19 aces/set for his team. Weston Barnes, Noah Dyer and Spencer Wickens have spent time on the back line, with Barnes posting 2.38 digs/set, Dyer adding 1.44 digs/set and Wickens marking 0.46 digs/set. At the net, Max Chamblerain leads the blockers with 1.19 blocks/set after marking 82 blocks this season. Wieczorek, Harthaller, Harriman and Michael Wexter have all amassed over 50 blocks as well, with Wieczorek, Harriman and Wexter tallying 54 and Harthaller putting up 53.
LAST WEEK – Last week, the Waves split a pair of MPSF matches, first falling to No. 2 BYU before defeating unranked Stanford with a sweep. First in the loss to BYU, the Waves marked 31 kills on a .214 output, while adding 31 assists, four aces, 22 digs and 3.5 blocks. The Cougars were good for 33 kills on a .400 success rate, along with 30 assists, 11 aces, 17 digs and 7.5 blocks. Colby Harriman led Pepperdine with 12 kills and added five digs, while Robert Mullahey led the squad with 27 assists. David Wieczorek posted a team-high six digs and tied the team-best two aces with Alex Harthaller.
Then in the senior day sweep over Stanford, the Waves were unstoppable on the offensive, hitting for a collective .500 success rate with 48 smashes and only seven errors on 82 swings. The Waves also posted 42 assists, four aces, 16 digs and 10.0 team blocks. The Cardinal was good for 34 kills on a .269 clip, along with 34 assists, two aces, 24 digs and 4.0 team blocks.
Wieczorek led the Waves with 15 kills on a .619 hitting percentage, while adding three aces, three assists, four digs and two blocks in an all-around effort. Harriman was next with 13 kills on a .600 clip, along with a team-best seven blocks. Michael Wexter also tabbed six blocks and six kills, while Mullahey led with 35 assists and four digs. Harthaller added nine kills and two blocks, while posting a team best 24 service receptions with no errors.
OPPONENT NOTES: USC – The Waves hold a 64-38 all-time record against the Trojans dating back to 1971 when the teams first met and the Waves on 3-1. The longest winning streak came from 1983-85 when Pepperdine won 10-straight. This season, USC went 7-19 overall record and 3-7 in the MSPF this season. The Waves took five-set and three-set wins over the Trojans in Malibu earlier this season. Last week, USC fell to both Grand Canyon and Concordia, Irvine 3-1 while also beating No. 4-ranked UCLA 3-2.
SPORTS IMPORTS/AVCA AND MPSF WEEKLY HONORS – David Wieczorek and Alex Harthaller have both earned weekly honors this season, with Wieczorek marking four offensive MPSF honors and one AVCA national accolade and Harthaller marking his first-career defensive MPSF award.
The MPSF honor is Wieczorek’s fifth-career and it is the first time currently recorded that a single player has received four honors in a single season (records go back only to the 2006 campaign). It is the first time someone has won back-to-back honors since Wave alumnus Matt Tarantino did so in the 2016 season and first time since 2012 a player has achieved three honors in a single season. The AVCA honor is the Waves’ 29th all-time and the first time for Wieczorek. The last time Pepperdine received the national honors was in 2015 when Brennan Anderson and Matt West did so in separate weeks.
NEW MPSF – Prior to the 2018 season, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation split into two separate conference leagues (MPSF and Big West). Pepperdine, along with Brigham Young, Stanford, UCLA and USC remained in the MPSF. New additions Concordia-Irvine and Grand Canyon also joined the conference in 2018 to make it a seven-team league.
Former MPSF-members Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and Hawai’i, along with NCAA Division II member UC San Diego will make up a six-team league sponsored by the Big West Conference.
LAST SEASON – In 2017, the Waves finished 6th in the MPSF and 8th nationally with a 10-12 overall record and 8-10 conference output. The team produced 12.14 kills/set on a .279 clip and tabbed 11.38 assists/set, 1.05 aces/set, 9.06 digs/set, 2.31 blocks/set and 15.49 points/set. Throughout the 2017 campaign, the Waves posted victories over No. 8 Stanford (3-1), No. 8 Loyola-Chicago (3-2), No. 12 UC Santa Barbara (3-1) and No. 14 CSUN (3-2).
HUNTING SEASON – The 2018 campaign marks the premier season for David Hunt at the helm of the Waves after he was elevated to the position in July, 2017. He won his first-ever match as head coach of the Waves on January 7, 2018 at Firestone Fieldhouse with a 3-0 sweep over Cal Lutheran. Hunt has been with the Pepperdine men’s volleyball program for the past 10 seasons beginning in 2007 as a video coordinator and volunteer assistant. He was elevated to assistant in 2010 and associate head coach in 2014, before taking over the leadership role. During his time with the Waves, Hunt has earned national acclaim as an assistant with three American Volleyball Coaches Association Thirty Under 30 Awards (2010, 2016, 2017). While Hunt had served under former head coach Marv Dunphy, the Waves produced a 160-104 overall record for a .606 winning percentage*. In the summer of 2016, Hunt once again joined the national coaching ranks with the U.S. Women’s National Team and helped lead Team USA to a bronze medal finish in the 2016 Olympic Games. He first earned a spot on the sideline in 2014 and has continued to excel in a leadership position under legendary coach Karch Kiraly.
WE’RE GOOD HERE: Marv Dunphy – Widely recognized as one of the game’s premier coaches, Dr. Marv Dunphy directed Pepperdine to four NCAA men’s volleyball titles and concluded his 34th and final season as the Waves’ head coach in 2016-17. He is still involved with the program and listed as head coach emeritus for the 2017-18 campaign. He directed Pepperdine to four NCAA championships, each in a different decade (1978, 1985, 1992, 2005). He was the 2005 National Coach of the Year and is a three-time MPSF Coach of the Year. He ended his head coaching career with a 612-277 overall record and a .688 winning percentage.
VOLLEYBALL HISTORY – Pepperdine has won five NCAA men’s volleyball championships, second only to UCLA. The Waves have won the MPSF Tournament three times and have won or shared 10 regular-season conference titles. Pepperdine has won either an MPSF regular-season or tournament title (or both) in six of the last 17 seasons. The Waves have finished in the top six in the final AVCA poll in 17 of the last 21 seasons. Pepperdine student-athletes have won national player of the year honors nine times and All-American accolades 82 times. A Pepperdine alum has competed at the Olympics every time since 1984 (Sean Rooney won gold in 2008).
ABOUT PEPPERDINE – Pepperdine boasts a one-of-a-kind athletic department with unprecedented success for a school of its size. The Waves have won NCAA Division I Championships in five different men’s sports — one of just 17 schools to have accomplished this feat — and nine overall. Of this elite group, Pepperdine has the smallest undergraduate enrollment, is the only school without football and is the only university that has not been affiliated with a “major” conference. The Waves have won a total of 25 team or individual national championships in their history. Pepperdine has also earned the Division I-AAA All-Sports Trophy, an award based on postseason success that’s given to the top non-football school, three times (most recently in 2011-12). Located in scenic Malibu, Calif., the university overlooks the Pacific Ocean and its campus and athletic facilities are regularly voted among the nation’s most beautiful. Pepperdine, which is affiliated with the Church of Christ, ranks No. 50 overall on U.S. News and World Report’s list of America’s best colleges.