If volleyball was in the Winter Olympics, the Waves would be as good as gold. Gradually moving its way up from the No. 4 spot in the rankings, Pepperdine has occupied each spot along the way and is currently in possession of the top position.
In their last home match until the middle of March, the team faced Irvine for the third time this year and easily blew by the anteaters in three games, 30-25, 35-33 and 30-23.
The victory constituted the ninth win for the Waves in their last ten matches.
Leading the Waves with a strong offensive effort was senior outside hitter
Lance Walker, who totaled a match-high 16 kills en route to registering a .423 hitting percentage.
Following Walker was freshmen outside hitter Sean Rooney with 13 kills and junior middle blocker Brad Keenan with 11.
Sophomore Jimmy Pelzel led Irvine with 14 kills. Pepperdine’s overall hitting percentage was .366 for the match.
“I think we won the serving game,” head coach Marv Dunphy said. “Which seems odd to say because we still made quite a few serving errors.”
The Waves were able to hold Irvine to a .253 hitting percentage.
“I think our serving game took them out of their offense,” Dunphy said. “Their outside hitters are usually able to get twenty or so kills on us. They weren’t able to set them as much this time which benefited us.”
To complement a strong offense, the Waves also had a strong defensive effort. In the three-game match they totaled 18 blocks and 26 digs.
The Waves are now 12-3 on the season and 7-1 in MPSF play, while the Anteaters fell to 7-7 on the season and dropped to 3-6 in conference action.
The Waves begin a five game road-trip in Stockton Feb. 21 to face No. 15 ranked Pacific. After that the Waves make a short jaunt over to Palo Alto to battle the Stanford Cardinals. Stanford, off to a slow start this year, currently stand at 7-4 in conference play.
However, in perhaps one of the first of many surprises to come this volleyball season, the No. 8 ranked Cardinals recently beat then No. 1 UCLA. Taking the Bruins to four games, the Cardinals won the match three games to one.
This season, the Waves have faced mostly with local teams they know well. They have already had multiple matches against UCLA, Santa Barbara, Northridge, Irvine and Long Beach State. The trip up north constitutes the first time the Waves will get to see both Stanford and University of Pacific’s style of play.
“They are two teams we haven’t really seen yet this year,” Dunphy said. “Stanford’s win over UCLA shows that they are a force to be reckoned with. And we expect Pacific to have a good team as well. We’ll have to see how it goes and if we can coach against them as we go along.”
The madness of March, when the rest of the country is focused on basketball courts, finds the Waves in Provo, Utah going head to head with the 2000-2001 NCAA champion Brigham Young Cougars. The Waves will face the Cougars in their territory on March 1-2.
The defending national champs are currently ranked No. 4 and are 9-2 on the season and 7-2 in MPSF play.
“There is still a lot of volleyball left to play,” Dunphy said. “Our goal is to be the best we can by the end of the season”
The Waves to return to action at Firestone Fieldhouse against Long Beach State on March 15.
February 21, 2002