No. 3 Pepperdine holds off No. 8 Southern Cal in five-set thriller
MALIBU, Calif. -- Behind a solid defensive performance, No. 3 Pepperdine held off No. 8 Southern California and was victorious in five sets on Saturday night inside Firestone Fieldhouse. Matt Tarantino was a force to be reckoned with at the net with a career-high 11 blocks, while Josh Taylor paced the offense with 18 kills.
With the 25-18, 21-25, 25-19, 14-25, 15-11 victory, the Waves move to 16-6 and are one match closer to securing home court advantage in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals. In the midst of a heated MPSF standings race, there are still a number of scenarios that could clinch home court advantage for Pepperdine prior to its next match. However, the Waves can control their own destiny with at least one win in a home-and-home versus Hawaii next week Friday and Saturday.
USC concludes its regular season with a 16-10 record, including a 14-10 mark in MPSF play. The Trojans’ conference tournament hopes now rest on the outcome of the remaining league matches.
Tarantino kept the USC attackers at bay on Saturday, posting a career-high 11 blocks and slowing down countless attacks to give Pepperdine defenders a better chance at digging a ball. Overall, the Malibu Roofing Company out-blocked the Trojans 16.5-8.0.
Although the visiting team out-killed the Waves 64-52, Pepperdine committed five fewer attack errors. The Trojans were further hindered back service errors with 20 -- including one at match point -- while the Waves served out 13.
Taylor was once again the go-to offensive option, and the junior capitalized with a team-high 18 kills.
Kyle Gerrans and J.J. Mosolf, who was started in place of Parker Kalmbach, both finished the night with nine put aways.
“I thought J.J. was steady tonight when we needed it most,” head coach Marv Dunphy said. “With the lights on he did real well.”
Matt West handed out 42 assists, while picking up 12 digs for his seventh double-double of the season. He further aided the Waves with five kills and four blocks.
Libero Brennan Anderson was perfect through 23 serve receive attempts, and added eight digs on defense.
It was a close knit battle in the opening points of the first set. Down 4-6, the Waves evened the score on a diving save by West that curved its way around the up official and the antennae to land in no man’s land on the USC side of the floor.
Tied 11-11, the Waves’ defense took over. After Gerrans and Tarantino blocked Tanner Jansen, the tried and true Malibu Roofing Company scored on the block or forced an attack error on the next six consecutive points to take an 18-11 advantage.
Nikola Antonijevic terminated the final kill to put set one in the books, 25-18. The Waves collected 4.5 total blocks in the frame. Tarantino was present for every roof, while Gerrans assisted on three.
Attack errors hindered Pepperdine in set two. USC took an early 10-7 lead and would not trail again en route to a 25-21 triumph.
The Waves returned the favor in the third, making a 4-0 run to break up a 10-10 tie. Behind five team blocks while hitting .500 on the offensive end, Pepperdine put the frame away 25-19.