Pepperdine Unable to Deliver Knockout Blow, Falls to UC Irvine

April 28, 2007

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MALIBU, Calif. - Streak are meant to be broken. Luckily for the top-ranked Pepperdine Waves, its school-record tying 23-match win streak was snapped 3-2 (27-30, 24-30, 30-28, 30-28, 16-14) in the championship match of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) by third-ranked UC Irvine instead of a week from now in a possible NCAA Championship Tournament finale.

Pepperdine (26-2) got out to a commanding 2-0 lead in the match and seemed poised to pick up a third straight victory over the Anteaters (27-5) as game three neared the later stages.

In as a blocking specialist, John Parfitt paid immediate dividends as he teamed up with Greg Gaudino to block Matt Webber and then took a set from Gaudino and notched his first kill of the match to give Pepperdine a 25-24 lead as UC Irvine retreated into a timeout.

Out of the stoppage, the Waves committed three consecutive hitting errors to give Irvine a 27-25 lead. The Waves got a kill from Tom Hulse and a block from Hulse and Winder to fight off a pair of match points but it was too little, too late as the Anteaters forced a fourth game.

On Pepperdine's second attempt to close out UC Irvine, the Waves used a 4-0 run fueled by a block from J.D. Schleppenbach and Gaudino to take a 25-23 lead late in game four. Irvine answered with back-to-back kills of its own before Taylor Wilson's service error kept the lead in the Waves' favor.

But Winder's set to Paul Carroll on the ensuing play sailed over the net and out of bounds to keep the score locked at 26-26.

With the Anteaters trailing 28-27, Matt Webber tied the score and Taylor Wilson delivered consecutive kills to stave off elimination for the seventh time during the MPSF tournament.

Pepperdine shook off falling in consecutive deuce games and took a commanding 4-1 lead in game five. Out of an Irvine timeout, Pepperdine committed three straight errors and the game was tied at 4-4 as Pepperdine called for a timeout.

The Waves maintained their lead and when Jon Grobe stuck for his seventh kill of the match Pepperdine once again had a two-point lead at 11-9.

The two teams traded points until with Pepperdine up 13-11 Carroll committed just the 10th Wave service error of the night, to Irvine's 30. But the stoppage in momentum proved too much as Wilson tied the match at 13 and Jayson Jablonsky provided the visitors with match point.

Grobe helped Pepperdine fight off the first Anteater attempt to close the match but it would prove to be the final time the Waves would score as Irvine scored the next two points and secured the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in Columbus, Ohio next week.

Carroll led the Waves with 18 kills on the night, while Gaudino and Hulse chipped in with 15 and 12 kills, respectively.

Irvine was led by Webber's 25 kills, Jablonsky's 21 and Taylor's 20.

Pepperdine will now wait to see if they earn the lone at-large bid to next week's tournament. The announcement is scheduled to air live on ESPNews between 10:30 and 11 a.m. (PDT).

IPFW and Penn State won their respective conference tournaments earlier in the day and will make up the rest of the tournament field.



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