MALIBU, Calif. -- Third-ranked Pepperdine gets set for two challenging matches this week, starting with No. 1 UCLA on Wednesday. The Waves continue home action on Saturday when they entertain No. 8 UC Santa Barbara. A pair of wins this week would guarantee Pepperdine at least a share of first place in the MPSF standings.
The Bruins currently have the best record in the NCAA at 9-1 and enter Wednesday’s contest on a nine-match win streak. UCLA outside hitter Gonzalo Quiroga has a 0.54 aces average in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. He also accounts for 3.46 kills per set. Robart Page paces UCLA with 4.17 kills per set. Page has picked up both MPSF and AVCA player of the week nods once already this season.
Pepperdine has faced an AVCA No. 1 team 52 times since the organization began issuing rankings in 1986. The Waves have produced a 17-35 record against top-ranked teams, with their last win coming on Feb. 15, 2013 when Pepperdine, No. 5 at the time, topped BYU 3-2.
Pepperdine, which is coming off handing BYU its first MPSF loss of the season, is averaging 10.77 digs per set, second in the NCAA. The Waves have recorded 60-plus digs in two matches in 2014. They also lead the NCAA with 3.37 blocks per set.
Other top-10 notes:
No. 2 Loyola Chicago opened league play with a sweep of No. 15 Ohio State last weekend, and will face No. 10 Lewis for its first conference road game on Wednesday. ... Fourth-ranked BYU is idle untile Feb. 14. ... No. 5 Southern California, which started the season with four consecutive wins, is 2-3 since then. ... No. 6 Long Beach State is idle until Feb. 12. ... Seventh-ranked Stanford, in the middle of a four-match homestand, has rebounded from a three-match losing streak to win two of its past three. ...No. 8 UC Santa Barbara faces a difficult week, with No. 5 Southern California and No. 3 Pepperdine on the slate. ... Tenth-ranked Lewis is opening conference play when it plays host to No. 2 Loyola Chicago on Wednesday. The Flyers come in on a six-match win streak.