NCAA: UTA hires Wenger, UCLA, Pepperdine men win in MPSF

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Pepperdine celebrates a point against Cal Baptist/Jean Runglerdkriangkrai photo

Texas-Arlington continued the overall trend of elevating assistants with no head-coaching experience as it hired popular J.T. Wenger as its new coach.

In the MPSF, second-ranked UCLA men swept No. 11 UC Santa Barbara and No. 9 Pepperdine took four to beat Cal Baptist, and the Conference Carolinas had three matches to report.

But first a look at Thursday’s NCAA men’s schedule.

There are two more MPSF matches when No. 8 Stanford (4-2, 1-0 MPSF) plays host to USC (2-5, 1-3) and No. 15 Cal State Northridge (6-3) entertains Division III Cal Lutheran (0-3). Cal Lutheran has losses to Mount Olive, Vassar and SUNY New Paltz.

There is another MIVA vs. EIVA match when No. 12 George Mason (4-2) goes to No. 14 Ball State (6-1).

ConfCarolinas is idle.

UCLA, Pepperdine win MPSF matches: The Bruins improved to 7-1 overall and remain atop the league at 5-0 after beating UCSB 25-17, 25-20, 25-20, with head coach John Speraw at the hospital for the birth of his second daughter.

He posted this on Facebook: “Hailey Paige Speraw was born last night at 10 pm. She weighed in at 7 lbs, 10 oz. Standing reach 20 inches. Vertical jump, zero. Beautiful Mom and beautiful Hailey are doing great. We are now a family of four!”

Fifth-year assistant Brad Keller took over in his place and the Bruins never missed a beat.

Junior Jake Arnitz led a balanced UCLA attack with 10 kills and hit .368. Senior Mitch Stahl added six kills, hit .600 and had three aces and three blocks. JT Hatch had six kills and a match-high eight digs. The Bruins outhit the Gauchos .344 to .195.

They play again Friday night in Santa Barbara at the Thunderdome. UCLA returns home to play Princeton on Sunday night.

UCSB, playing on the road for the first time, dropped to 6-2, 3-2. Jacob Delson had 13 kills, but hit .172 and had four of his team’s 13 service errors. Corey Chavers had six kills and Hayden Boehle five.

Pepperdine improved to 3-2, 1-1 with its 25-20, 23-25, 25-16, 25-14 win over visiting Cal Baptist (2-6, 1-4).

Pepperdine’s Michael Wexter had five of his team’s 10 aces, seven kills, a team-high eight digs and three blocks. David Wieczorek led with 15 kills and six digs. Alex Harthaller had 11 kills, two aces and seven digs.

CBU got 11 kills from Luis Palo, but he hit .000 and had three of his team’s 14 service errors. Rohit Paul had 10 kills, but also hit zero as his team was out-hit .276 to .078.

ConfCarolinas: King won its CC opener, winning at Lees-McRae 25-21, 22-25, 25-17, 25-19. It left King 5-1, 1-0, and Lees-McRae 2-3, 0-1.

Sean Luhmann led King with 12 kills and hit .579 as he had only one error in 19 swings. He also had two blocks, seven digs and an ace. Jeff Sprayberry added nine kills, two blocks and two aces. Lees-McRae got 17 kills from John Sobel, who had four of his team’s 21 service errors. Wes Rogman had 11 kills and four of those errors. And Hector Serviat had 10 kills, hit .471, and also four service errors.

Limestone beat visiting Emmanuel 21-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-22 to improve to 2-1, 2-0. Emmanuel is 1-4 as it lost its league opener.

Bruno Kretzschmar had 12 kills, seven digs and two service aces for Limestone. Kevin Rocklein added 12 kills and Nick Wildes had 10 digs.

Ackeem West had 15 kills for Emmanuel and hit .440. Don Thompson had 12 kills and hit .550 and Gilberto Cervantes had 10 kills but five of his team’s 21 service errors. Emmanuel had four aces and 21 errors, while Limestone had zero aces and six errors.

And North Greenville finally got a victory, improving to 1-6, 1-1 with a 26-24, 25-22, 26-24 victory over visiting Erskine (0-4, 0-1).

Grayson Lawrence, Aaron Campbell and Matthew McManaway had 10 kills apiece for the winners. Isaac Lanier had 14 kills for Erskine.

JT Wenger while coaching at Michigan State
JT Wenger while coaching at Michigan State

UTA tabs Wenger: The former assistant at UCLA, Colorado and for the past season Michigan State played for a national-championship team at UCLA.

Wenger, who is from Illinois, played pro in Puerto Rico. He was an assistant to Al Scates at his alma mater from 2006-11, was associate head coach at Colorado from 2012-15 and then an assistant to Cathy George at Michigan State this past season when the Spartans went 25-9, losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Arizona.

Said UTA athletic director Jim Baker about Wenger, “ … has the vision to take the program to unprecedented heights. We conducted an exhaustive national search and, during the process, received a tremendous amount interest in our program. The UTA athletics program has great ambition and potential while the volleyball program has a history of national success. Our search was conducted with the intent to secure the right person to lead our program.”

There are still plenty of Division I openings, including Stanford, Indiana State, Stetson, Virginia, Penn and Manhattan. Cincinnati head coach Molly Alvey promoted assistant Phillip White to associate head coach and hired Kevin Carroll, a former UC Irvine player and coach.

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