Men’s NCAA Volleyball Update, March 16

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Pepperdine had a lot to celebrate with an upset of UC Irvine over the weekend.

Pepperdine Defeats UC Irvine in Five

In a match that pitted the No. 3 and No. 5-ranked teams in the country against each other, Pepperdine upset the Anteaters of UC Irvine, 20-25, 22-25, 25-23, 25-19, 17-15. The Anteaters had won their last nine consecutive matches before facing the Waves on Sunday. With the loss, they dropped to 18-4 overall and 12-3 in the MPSF, while Pepperdine rose to 14-4 overall, 10-4 in the MPSF.

The match was the Waves 14th consecutive win at home. Three Pepperdine players put away double-digit kills (Josh Taylor, 22; Parker Kalmbach, 17; Scott Rhein, 10), but UCI led in most statistical categories, scoring 63 kills to Pepperdine’s 59, serving six aces to Pepp’s three, and, led by senior libero Michael Brinkley, collecting 44 digs to the Waves 36. Both teams had 21 service errors.

In the fifth set, Pepperdine went up 5-0 with Scott Rhein behind the service line; however, the Anteaters caught up and even led at 13-11 and had a chance at the match with a game point at 15-14. Ultimately the Waves rallied and put away the match with a kill from Kalmbach and a block by Mitchell Penning and Kalmbach.

Ohio State Outlasts No. 2 Lewis, Falls to No. 1 Loyola

Lewis lost its first MIVA match of the year when Ohio State took down the Flyers in five sets on Friday, March 13. The win marked Ohio State’s 10th-consecutive win at home this year. Senior captain of the Buckeyes Michael Henchy put on a show, collecting 32 kills with only one error to hit .756, both new career highs for the 6’7″ outside hitter from Ventura, California.

The highly contested match went to extra points in three of the five sets (25-23, 25-27, 34-32, 16-25, 16-14). The loss snapped a 13-match win streak for the Flyers that had held them in the No. 2 spot in the AVCA Coaches Poll since early February.

Ohio State led by a large margin in kills, hitting percentage, and digs; however, the Buckeyes missed 31 serves, and were outblocked by the Flyers 17.5 to 7.

Two nights later, Ohio State found itself outmatched by the top-ranked Loyola Ramblers and dropped its first home match of the year (25-18, 25-21, 25-19). In that match, Henchy put away only six kills with four errors to hit .111. Loyola’s Thomas Jaeschke led the match with 17 kills, hitting .600. The Ramblers outblocked the Buckeyes 10.5 to three.

Lewis and Loyola now sit tied for first in the conference with 6-1 records, while Ohio State ranks third at 7-3.

Penn State Undefeated on West Coast

Penn State, after opening the season with a six-match losing streak, proved it has hit its stride with a three consecutive sweeps in the team’s trip to California.

Last week, the Nittany Lions took down then No. 7-ranked USC. Then over the weekend, the team traveled to Long Beach State to compete in the ASICS Invitational tournament where it defeated Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State.

Senior outside hitter Aaron Russell was named tournament MVP after collecting match-high kills in both tournament contests. Redshirt junior setter Taylor Hammond and redshirt sophomore Matt Callaway also earned All-Tournament honors.

In Sunday’s match against Long Beach State, redshirt freshman Jalen Penrose from Cambridge, Massachusetts, made his first career start for Penn State, putting away nine kills and leading the team with eight digs and four aces.

The Nittany Lions return home to face Ohio State on Saturday.

Hawaii Extends Win Streak with Wins Over Hope International

Hope International journeyed to the Stan Sheriff Center on the campus of the University of Hawaii-Manoa over the weekend where it met the Rainbow Warriors buzz saw. After defeating the Royals 3-0 and 3-1 the Bows extended their win streak to 10 matches. Their last loss came on February 6 against USC.

Hawaii will have a week off before taking on UC San Diego, March 27.

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