LA JOLLA, Calif. - Third-ranked Pepperdine University made the final plays when necessary at the end of close first and third sets, and ultimately produced a 3-0 sweep of UC San Diego in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) action Saturday night inside RIMAC Arena. Scores were 32-30, 25-16, 27-25.
UCSD (0-13, 0-12 MPSF) was able to suit up just 12 players for the second straight night against a top-five nationally-ranked opponent.
Pepperdine, entering the match after back-to-back losses, improved to 7-3 overall and 7-3 in league play. The Waves took the season’s first meeting in Malibu, also 3-0, on Jan. 11, and has now won six straight meetings with the Tritons.
Senior opposite Mike Brunsting (Poway/Francis Parker School) had eight of his career- and match-high 17 kills in the opening set. He hit .636 in that opener (8-1-11), with the Tritons as a team out-hitting the Waves in the first, .324-.244.
The first set featured 15 tie scores and three lead changes. Solo blocks by redshirt freshman middle Mathew Schnitzer and true freshman Shayne Beamer made it 19-18 in favor of Pepperdine and 20-20, respectively. Schnitzer then combined with sophomore Eric Barber for a combo stuff on Scott Rhein to give UCSD the first of five set points, but a service error tied it back up.
The Waves themselves had a pair of set points before successive kills by Parker Kalmbach and Kyle Gerrans finally won it. Kalmbach had seven kills in the first.
Pepperdine never trailed and controlled the second game. The Waves tallied the first two points in the third. Moments later, a 4-0 run by the Tritons gave them a 6-4 edge. Pepperdine quickly responded with the next five points for 9-6.
A Brunsting kill and back-to-back attack errors by Kalmbach later tied it at 13-13. Successive kills by Schnitzer knotted things again at 19-19 later still.
The Waves took it to the first of two match points at 24-22 on a service error, of which UCSD had 20 on the night. Brunsting put an incredible swing on an overpass, however, for his 17th and final kill of the night, and a Kyle Gerrans hitting error evened it up at 24-24.
Two more service mistakes around a Schnitzer kill gave Pepperdine a fourth match point, and Rhein and J.J. Mosolf teamed up to block Brunsting for the capper.
The Waves had a triple block in each of the first two sets, with Rhein, Nikola Antonijevic and Matt West combining late in the first (30-29) and Antonijevic, Gerrans and Kalmbach midway through the second (11-7).
Sophomore libero Elliott Shaw got to a career- and match-high 10 digs for UCSD. Junior setter Garrett Dempsey had 38 assists. Sophomore outside hitter Kirill Rudenko matched his season high from the night before with eight more kills.
Kalmbach finished with 13 kills to lead Pepperdine. Gerrans added 11 kills and eight digs to his match-high six service aces. West had 38 assists and seven digs.
UCSD is back on the road during the week ahead, playing at No. 13 Cal State Northridge on Wednesday, Feb. 19, and at No. 6 Long Beach State on Friday, Feb. 21. Both matches will start at 7 p.m.