Torres

MALIBU, Calif. -- No. 5 Pepperdine kept its chances of hosting a first-round Mountain Sports Pacific Federation tournament match alive by outlasting No. 10 Cal State Northridge in five sets on Thursday inside Firestone Fieldhouse. Maurice Torres pounded a career-best-tying 28 kills while hitting at a .500 clip to lift the Waves to victory.

Final set scores were 22-25, 25-23, 17-25, 25-18, 15-11.

Pepperdine is 13-9 overall and in fifth place with a 12-9 mark in league action. UCLA sits in fourth but lost Thursday to Cal Baptist to fall to 13-8 in league play, leaving the door open for the Waves to move ahead a spot in the standings. The top four teams are awarded home-court advantage during the first round of the conference tournament, set to open April 20. BYU, UC Irvine and Long Beach State have already clinched the top three spots.

Torres was the star of the match, tallying 28 kills off 44 attempts and just six errors for a final hitting percentage of .500. The Waves improved to 10-1 this year when Torres is hitting at .300 or higher. Torres also credited with a match-high seven blocks and three aces, as well as seven digs.

Prior to Thursday, Torres was credited with 28 kills against USC in 2010 as a freshman. Coincidentally, it also was the 28th time in his career he has surpassed the 20-kills mark.

Matt West, who entered this week ranked second in the NCAA with 11.41 assists/set, conducted the offense with 63 assists, which ties for most by any MPSF player in a single match this season. 

The Waves’ offense got a lift from Josh Taylor, who racked up 19 kills and two blocks.

Middle blockers Parker Kalmbach and Leonardo Granato kept the CSUN’s offense in check with six blocks apiece. It was Granato’s first start of the season.

Beau Vandeweghe came off the bench with nine kills and tied a career high with eight digs.

Pepperdine got off to rough start in the opening frame, falling behind 8-3. Torres rattled off two aces to bring the score within one at 9-8 and the Waves even took a brief lead at 18-16. The Matadors never fully relinquished the momentum, however, and won 25-22.

The second set played out extremely close from start to finish, but another Torres ace sparked a 3-0 run to give the home team a 22-19 advantage. The small separation was enough and Pepperdine sided out its way to a 25-23 triumph.

The momentum continued to swing back and forth as Cal State Northridge took the third set and Pepperdine won the fourth, both in convincing fashion.

The Waves played an inspired fifth set and opened the final frame on a 3-1 run. The Matadors narrowed the gap to one, 10-9, but Torres and Vandeweghe nailed down kills in succession to give Pepperdine a 12-9 lead. After a CSUN sideout, Taylor accounted for the final three kills to secure the set 15-11.

The win was a repayment of sorts, as Cal State Northridge was on the winning side of a 3-2 decision back in February at the Matadome. The Matadors are 9-12 in conference play and clinging to the eighth and final spot in the MPSF tournament.