Stockton, Calif. – Taking on one of the top teams in the country, the No. 15 Pacific men's volleyball team suffered a heartbreaking loss to No. 5 Pepperdine, 3-1, on Friday, Mar. 1. The loss for the Tigers dropped their record to 5-8 overall and 3-8 in the MPSF while the Waves improved to 9-5 overall and in conference play.
Battling back and forth for much of the first set, the Tigers fell victim to a big late run by the Waves, which turned a close frame into a comfortable first set victory. Tied at 19-19, the Waves used a 6-1 run, including winning the final five points of the set to pull away from the Tigers. Prior to the Waves run, the Tigers had built an early four-point lead behind a balanced inside-out attack, only to see Pepperdine adjust and flip the tables on Pacific.
In the second set, a rejuvenated Tiger squad hit the floor as Pacific looked to retake the momentum they had early in set one. Coming out on fire, the Tigers did not allow the Waves a chance to steal the set as Pacific buried Pepperdine behind an avalanche from the pins. Behind three kills by senior Adam Troy, the Tigers ran out to a 10-3 lead before the Waves could react, setting the stage for what would be the final margin of victory. In total, the pins recorded 11 of the Tigers' 15 kills in the set as Troy got the Tigers started with three of his five kills in the set while senior Taylor Hughes finished the Waves off with five of his six late.
Looking to take the two sets to one lead in set three, the Tigers found themselves on the verge of the big win four different times, only to be rebuffed by the Waves. In an absolute battle for control, both the Tigers and the Waves put out their best efforts as the two teams each hit over .300 in the frame. As they did in the second set, Pacific went to Hughes early and often, relying on their ace on the outside for 10 of its 17 kills. However, with 17 swings in the set alone, Hughes ran out of gas by the end of the set as the Waves turned the frame around to take the win.
The inability to put Pepperdine away in the third proved to be the beginning of the end for the Tigers as the Waves used the win in set three to run away with set four and with it, the match. After a close start to the set, the Waves took control of the fourth and final frame of the night with a 4-0 run in the middle of the set that turned a 9-9 contest into a 13-9 lead. That four point advantage would be too much for the Tigers to recover from as Pepperdine slowly pulled away over the final half of the set to take the win.
Overall, Hughes finished the match with 20 kills on 36 swings as the senior hit .333. Hughes added six digs and three blocks to round out his match with 22.5 total points. Behind Hughes, Troy tallied 14 kills on .250 hitting while sophomore Tommy Carmody quietly put together a 12 kill night on .429 hitting to go along with a team-best six kills.
For Pepperdine, the Waves were led by Maurice Torres who posted 20 kills on .286 hitting to tie Hughes for the match-high in kills. Josh Taylor added 14 kills while Scott Rhein tallied 13 to round out the top scoring for the Waves. As a team, the Waves outhit the Tigers, .306-to-.239.
Pacific is back in action on Saturday, Mar. 2 when the Tigers host USC at the Spanos Center. The match is scheduled for 7:00 pm.