MALIBU, Calif. -- Fifth-ranked Pepperdine earned arguably its most impressive win on the road this season with a 3-2 triumph against No. 4 UC Santa Barbara. Junior Josh Taylor led the floor with 22 kills and helped the Waves snap the Gauchos’ four-match win streak.
With the 22-25, 25-21, 18-25, 25-21, 15-12 victory, Pepperdine moves into third place in the MPSF standings behind a 12-5 record. The Gauchos were relegated back into fourth, a half a match behind the Waves at 12-6.
Although UCSB out-killed the Waves 69-56, Pepperdine made up for the deficit by keeping its hitting errors to a minimum. The Waves committed 13 fewer errors on offense, leading to a .336 (56 kills-14 errors-125) team hitting percentage.
Pepperdine also won the blocking battle, with 14.0 blocks compared to the home squads’ six. Nikola Antonijevic assisted on seven rejections while Taylor followed with six block assists.
In addition to his sound defensive performance, Taylor led the floor with 22 kills earned at a .439 (22-4-41) clip.
Matt Tarantino was once again impressive, and for the third match in a row, did not commit a single hitting error. Tarantino, a middle blocker, went 10-for-16 (.688) on the attack. Earlier in the week at UCLA, he put down 12 kills off of 16 swings for a career-high rate of .750.
Last week, Tarantino earned 11 kills off of 15 errorless attempts in a 3-0 win against Pacific.
Quarterbacking the offense was Matt West, who dished 53 assists in the win.
Parker Kalmbach and Kyle Gerrans finished the evening with nine kills apiece.
The Gauchos were led by Matt Hanley, with 20 kills, and Evan Licht, who produced 18 kills and seven aces. Libero Chad Kingi picked up a match-high 19 digs.
After UCSB won the opening frame 25-22, the Waves got a set back with a 25-21 victory in the second. Back-and-forth the match went, as the home team took the third and the visitors the fourth with relatively few lead changes.
Pepperdine scored the first two points of the deciding fifth set and never trailed the rest of the way. Although UC Santa Barbara knotted the score up at 2-2, the Waves scored five of the next six points to take a commanding 7-3 lead. Another failed sideout attempt by UCSB put the score at 11-7 in favor of the visitors and the Gauchos were forced to take their second timeout of the frame.
Although the Gauchos narrowed the gap to three, 12-9, Taylor and Antonijevic threw the roof on out of a timeout to tip the momentum back in the Waves’ favor.
Taylor slammed down another kill to bring the score to match point, and sealed the deal for Pepperdine 15-12 with his 22nd kill of the match.