NCAA mens volleyball: PFW’s Vargas returns, Pepperdine beats Harvard

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Rob Mullahey-Pepperdine vrolleyball-NCAA mens volleyball 1/16/2020
Pepperdine setter Rob Mullahey stretches for the pancake/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Pelegrin Vargas is back.

The 6-4 Purdue Fort Wayne senior outside hitter played for Puerto Rico in the Olympic Qualification Tournament, and therefore missed the opening week of the NCAA season. (His teammate middle blocker Tomas Gago did the same, competing for Chile.)

On Wednesday, in Vargas’ first match back in the lineup, the No. 10 Mastodons celebrated the program’s first victory over CSUN in the Matadors’ home gym. Vargas put away 22 kills, living up to his billing as the MIVA preseason player of the year.

There were three NCAA men’s matches in total Wednesday. Thursday’s slate of five matches includes Sacred Heart of the EIVA taking on five-time Division III national champion Springfield. Daemen College, which is in its second season fielding a men’s team, hosts Harvard, and Belmont Abbey travels just 15 miles from home to play Queens in Charlotte, North Carolina.

No. 15 Ohio State, which has yet to drop a set in its first three matches of the season, all played inside the brand-new Covelli Center, has Lincoln Memorial at home. And USC plays its first home MPSF match of the season against Concordia Irvine.

To watch those matches or any others that are being shown, go to the VolleyballMag.com TV listings page for direct links to the broadcasts.

In addition to his match-high kills performance, Vargas hit .588 and contributed three aces to Purdue Fort Wayne’s (3-0) straight-set victory (25-20, 25-23, 26-24). As a team, the Mastodons hit .357 with 40 assists from Frederico Santos, who added two kills of his own on four attempts to hit .500. Libero Troy Gooch led the team with eight digs, while Wilmer Hernandez, a freshman outside hitter from Puerto Rico, contributed six digs and nine kills.

Sophomore middle blocker Daniel Wetter led the CSUN (1-3) scoresheet with 11 kills and made just a single attack error for a .667 hitting percentage on the night. Maciej Ptaszynski also made it to double-digits in the kills column, but had four errors to go with his 10 points to hit .222. As a team, the Matadors hit .286.

“That’s a good team we played tonight, but again it came down to a couple points here and there,” CSUN head coach Jeff Campbell said. “Our serving was much improved from last weekend and when we passed to the net, (Daniel) Wetter was amazing.”

UC San Diego improved to 2-1 with a sweep (25-21, 25-17, 25-18) of Division III Vassar (0-1). The Tritons hit .338, with outside hitter Wyatt Harrison leading the attack to the tune of 13 kills, but blocking made an even bigger impact on the outcome. UCSD tallied 11.5 total block’s to Vassar’s 2.5. UCSD’s 6-6 sophomore middle Shane Benetz led the way in that category with five stuffs, while Logan Clark had four, Kyle McCauley and Connor Walbrecht added three each, and Gabe Avillion, Ryan Ka, and Collin Shannon contributed two apiece.

McCauley, the reigning Big West player of the week, had a fairly quiet night with just four kills on 12 attempts and three digs. Redshirt freshman Ka made his collegiate debut in the match and to his pair of blocks added three kills on four attempts to hit .750.

Seventeen service errors severely hampered Vassar’s ability to compete. Gavin van Beverin, a 6-7 freshman, led the Brewers with nine kills, hitting .375 in his collegiate debut.

No. 8 Pepperdine (3-0) scored a four-set victory (25-18, 20-25, 25-22, 25-19) over Harvard (2-2) in Amherst, New York, where the two teams are being hosted by Daemen College.

Three Waves made it to double-digit kills, including Noah Dyer, who served as the team’s libero in 2019, with 10. Redshirt freshman opposite Jacob Steele led all players with 15 kills and just one error to hit .560. He also tallied two aces, two blocks (one solo), and six digs. Outside Ben Weinberg had 11 kills, three aces, and three digs, and setter Rob Mullahey led the match with 45 assists, leading the team to a .343 hitting percentage.

Campbell Schoenfeld led the Harvard attack with 15 kills but had 10 errors to hit just .135. Freshman middle Ethan McCrary, on the other hand, had exactly zero errors to go with his 11 kills and hit .786. Setter Matt Ctvrtlik collected 37 assists and four kills on nine attempts with zero errors to hit .444.

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