Lewis, Pepperdine win NCAA men’s matches, our photo gallery

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NCAA mens volleyball 4/30/2019
Ryan Coenen, Julian Moses, and Tyler Mitchem celebrates for the Flyers/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Lewis lost the first set but came back and beat USC in four, while Princeton simply wouldn’t go away before losing to Pepperdine in five.

And now the NCAA men’s Division I-II national semifinals are set:

Top-seeded Hawai’i (27-2) will play Lewis (26-5) in Long Beach’s Pyramid at 5 p.m. Pacific on Thursday, followed by second-seeded and defending national champion Long Beach State (26-2) facing Pepperdine (23-6).

Both matches will be streamed on NCAA.com with Saturday’s 5 p.m. Pacific final on ESPN2.

Lewis 3, USC 1: The Flyers, who won the MIVA, won 20-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-23, got 18 kills from Ryan Coenen, who added 11 digs and five blocks, two solo.

Lewis hit .289 and had two service aces and 11 errors, but 17.5 blocks, 10 by TJ Murray. USC, which hit .238, had three aces and 20 errors and nine blocks.

Murray, who had a solo block, also had three kills and a dig. Mitch Perinar had 13 kills, hit .393, and had six digs and seven blocks. Julian Moses had seven kills, seven digs and a block. And setter Matt Yoshimoto had a kill in his only try, 41 assists, four digs and five blocks.

“I’m excited. I think that ultimately after game one the guys did a nice job of settling in, especially on the block-defense. I think they got in a good groove and got some good touches on those guys,” Lewis coach Dan Friend said.

“We finished with 17 blocks and really transitioned some points at the same time. We only had seven missed serves going into game four, and I think we missed four or five in game four, we would have separated ourselves if we hadn’t missed those serves. It was a great job by the guys to respond after game one.”

USC, which finished second in the MPSF and got an at-large NCAA bid, ended its season 18-11.

Gianluca Grasso led a balanced Trojans attack with 16 kills. He he had four assists, four digs and three blocks, one solo. Jack Wyett had 15 kills, two assists, eight digs and three blocks, and Ryan Moss had 15 kills, hit .324, and had two assists, an ace, 11 digs and a block.

The attendance was listed at 886.

Pepperdine 3, Princeton 2: David Wieczorek led a balanced attack for the Waves with 18 kills in the 25-23, 19-25, 25-16, 22-25, 15-8 victory.

Wieczorek hit .317, had an assist, five blocks and eight digs, but eight service errors again no aces. His team had four aces and 21 errors, while hitting .318. 

Princeton hit .209 and also had four aces and committed 17 errors.

“I think it comes down to the serve and pass and all the training we’ve done,” Wieczorek said after MPSF-champion Pepperdine played in the NCAA tournament for the first time in more than a decade. 

“We’ve worked hard and I think it boils down to our aggression, coming out, and changing our mentality of just aggressive swings at everything, taking rips and just letting it rip.”

Kaleb Denmark had 13 kills, three aces, three blocks and six digs for the Waves and Max Chamberlain had 10 kills with one error and hit .563. He added nine blocks and a dig but also went 0-for-6 at the serving line. 

Kevin Vaz had nine kills and hit .571 to go with an ace, five digs and five blocks, and Michael Wexter had eight kills.

Pepperdine controlled the fifth set from the start.

“We didn’t want to go home,” Chamberlain said. “We knew it was a big match, big set, so I think the guys realized that and we talked about it and started to play Pepperdine volleyball. And that’s the volleyball you’re probably going to see this week.”

Princeton ended its season 18-13. The Tigers, who won the EIVA championship for the first time since 1998 and made it to NCAA play for the first time, got a monster night from Kendall Ratter, who had 24 kills, nine digs and a block. Parker Dixon had 11 kills, eight digs and a block, and George Huhmann had 10 kills, two assists, two aces, two digs and three blocks.

The attendance was announced as 977.

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