Jan. 25, 2008
Fortunate circumstances have a way of circling back to the unfortunate. After enduring its share of bad fortune, the UCLA men's volleyball team was more than willing Friday night to accept some from an opponent.
Fifth-ranked UCLA happily took No.2 Pepperdine's only service error of Game 5 at match point to stop several streaks of futility, and hand the Waves their second straight loss at Firestone Fieldhouse.
The Bruins defeated the Waves 21-30, 30-20, 27-30, 30-28, 15-12 in two hours and six minutes in front of 1,357 in Malibu. UCLA improved to 6-3 overall, 4-2 in league play. Pepperdine fell to 4-2 overall and in conference play. The victory snapped UCLA's two-match skid and ended a four-match losing streak to the Waves. The win also was the Bruins' first at Pepperdine since the 2004 season.
In a tug-of-war contest that saw both teams lose their poise in the first two games, the Bruins prevailed in Game 5 by going on a 5-1 run following a timeout at 10-11. The key point of the final game came with the Bruins ahead 12-11. Pepperdine's Matt McKee had an open net and hit his shot long to give UCLA a critical two-point advantage. At 14-12 the Waves committed their only service error of the fifth game to give the Bruins a gut-check victory.
Four UCLA players recorded double-digit kills, led by junior Ryan Ratelle who hammered 23 kills (.333) and scored 25 points, both career highs. Junior Jamie Diefenbach added 21 kills (.690), two aces and five total blocks for 26 points. Fourth-year junior D.J. Stromath pounded 17 kills (.556) and scored 19 points, another career-high, and sophomore Brett Perrine added 11 kills. Senior Libero Tony Ker recorded 16 digs and sophomore Garrett Muagututia added 11. Setter Matt Wade came off the bench to score 4.5 points and distribute 63 assists.
For the Waves, McKee led the way with 21 kills (.359) and 23 points, followed by 18 (.366) from J.D. Schleppenbach, 12 from Cory Riecks and 10 (.643) from Tyler Jaines.
The Bruins return home on Wed., Jan. 30 to face Cal Baptist in a 7 p.m. non-conference match in Pauley Pavilion.