No. 2 Pepperdine downs Hawaii to share MPSF regular-season title
MALIBU, Calif. -- Second-ranked Pepperdine defeated No. 9 Hawaii 3-1 on Saturday, and in doing so ended the regular season in a tie for first place in the MPSF with No. 3 BYU. The Waves will enter the MPSF tournament as the No. 2 seed and will host seventh-seeded Long Beach State on April 19.
Pepperdine concludes the regular season with an 18-6 record, all league matches, with the 19-25, 28-26, 25-18, 26-24 victory. It is the first time the Waves have concluded the regular season atop the MPSF standings since 2007 and sixth overall. Although Pepperdine is tied with BYU, the Cougars hold the tiebreaker against the Waves and will be the top-seeded team in the league tournament.
Although Pepperdine had defeated Hawaii in straight sets on Friday night, the Rainbow Warriors proved Saturday evening they weren’t going down without a fight. UH struck first and forced the Waves to play catchup for a good part of the match before succumbing to a season-ending defeat.
“Give Hawaii credit, they served really well start to finish and had us on our heels,” head coach Marv Dunphy said.
While the Rainbow Warriors were in a must-win situation in order to keep their playoff hopes alive (also reliant on a UCLA loss, which was not realized) the Waves were also hungry for the win and needed it to secure the No. 2 seed versus Stanford. A loss Saturday would have relegated the Waves back to third place in the standings behind the Cardinal in one of the closest MPSF races in recent years.
Dunphy’s men handled the pressure with ease.
“The hardest thing any coach has to do is to get their players to train at the level they need to in order to be good,” Dunphy said. “That is the only pressure I’ve ever felt. And then either you’re good enough or you’re not. It’s about the process and these guys have trained well.”
Proving that training hard in practice translates into “being good enough” was Josh Taylor, who led the Waves with 18 kills tonight. His 16th of the match was career kill No. 1,000 for the junior. He is now just the 18th Pepperdine student-athlete to reach the milestone.
J.J. Mosolf, playing in place of the injured Parker Kalmbach, played like he’s been starting all season long and earned his career-first double double. He tagged down 12 kills and finished the night with 10 digs.
“You want to be your best when the best is need,” Dunphy said of his reserve.
Gerrans was the third Pepperdine player to reach double figures in kills, tallying 12 to go along with his five blocks on senior night.
Matt Tarantino led the defense with six blocks, while Matt West managed the offense with 47 assists.