March 16, 2012
Second-ranked UCLA dispatched No. 7 Pepperdine Friday night in three sets to win the 35th annual Kilgour Cup at the John Wooden Center.
Set scores in the 79-minute match were 25-18, 31-29, 26-24. UCLA snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 19-4 overall, 13-3 in the MPSF race. Pepperdine fell to 11-10, 7-9.
In the Kilgour Cup, UCLA holds a 9-1 series advantage over Pepperdine. The Bruins improved to 27-7 all-time in Kilgour Cup matches.
UCLA found its serve and attack on Friday night, and discovered a new opposite: redshirt freshman Kene Izuchukwu. Although the six foot rookie didn't hit for a high average, his thundering solo block of Pepperdine's Josh Taylor sealed set two for the hosts.
The Bruins won the first set easily breaking away from a 7-7 tie and never looking back. A kill by Izuchukwu, a combo block by seniors Weston Dunlap and Thomas Amberg and a kill by Amberg forced the visitors to call their first timeout. The Waves would narrow the gap to 15-14, but the Bruins pulled away on another kill by Izuchukwu, a Pepperdine hitting error and an ace by Amberg to go up 18-14, forcing the visitors to use their last timeout of the set. From that point, the Bruins out-scored the Waves, 7-4, closing the set with a kill from Amberg.
Neither team led by more than two points in the second set; in fact, the Bruins fought off two set points at 24-25 and 25-26. The hosts had two set points before Amberg notched a kill to make it 30-29 and Izuchukwu blocked Taylor to end it.
The Bruins squandered a 24-21 lead in set three, as the Waves tied it with a kill from Taylor, a combo block of Dunlap by Matt Tarantino and Matt West and a hitting miscue by Dunlap. Senior setter Kyle Caldwell restored order with his eighth kill and Taylor hit long to end the match.
Caldwell had a hitting line of 8-0-16 (.615), served an ace and recorded two block assists for 10.0 points. Amberg led the Bruins with nine kills (.900) and 15.0 points. Dunlap also added eight kills (.312) and 9.5 points. Izuchukwu had 6.5 points on five kills, both career highs.
Taylor led the Waves with 16.5 points and 15 kills. Junior Maurice Taylor added 14 kills and 15.5 points.
The Bruins will take a week off for final exams before traveling to UC San Diego (Mar. 30) and UC Irvine (Mar. 31). They return home for their final regular season home matches against BYU, Apr. 6 & 7.