MVB Blocks Way to Sweep Over Waves
The No. 1 UCLA men's volleyball team (18-3,8-1) out blocked No. 8 Pepperdine (14-8, 5-4) by a 15.5 to 4.0 margin while sweeping the Waves in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) match played in Malibu on Thursday night. Scores of the contest were 25-19, 30-28, 25-22. The Bruins can clinch the top seed in the MPSF Tournament with a win on Saturday against Pepperdine in a match which starts at 6 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom that will be televised by the Pac-12 Network Los Angeles.
It was the sixth straight win for the Bruins who are 15-1 this season when outblocking the opponent. Over those last six matches, UCLA owns a 54.0 to 25.0 blocking edge over the opposition. Merrick McHenry posted a career-best seven block assists to lead the way. Guy Genis added two block solos and four block assists to go with a career-high three aces. Ethan Champlin, with 12, was the lone Bruin in double-digit kills which marked a team-best ninth time this season that he has registered 10 or more spikes in a match. Miles Partain set the team to a .386 hitting percentage, the 12th straight match UCLA has hit at least .300.
UCLA stormed out to a quick 4-0 first set lead behind the serve of Genis. UCLA led 8-5 following a kill by Miles Partain. After Pepperdine closed to 11-10, UCLA ran off five straight points behind the serve of Champlin to open up a 16-10 cushion. An Alex Knight kill left UCLA in front 19-14. McHenry's swing pushed the margin to 23-16. Another McHenry kill ended the set at 25-19. UCLA hit .577 for the frame and Champlin led the way with seven kills.
The Waves moved to a 1-4 advantage in the early going of set two. UCLA closed to 8-9 after a Champlin/Genis block. A Kevin Kobrine kill pulled UCLA even at 12-all. McHenry's swing handed the Bruins a 14-13 edge. A Genis/Knight block pushed the gap to 19-17. Pepperdine came back to level the score at 20-all. After the Waves went up 21-23, UCLA answered with three straight points with kills by McHenry and Kobrine combined with a block by the pair to go up 24-23. Pepperdine came back to even the score at 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28-all. Back-to-back kills from McHenry and Champlin won the set at 30-28.
UCLA used a couple of blocks to help pull away to a 5-2 lead to begin set three. Another block by Genis made it 8-5. A series of Wave errors helped the Bruins open up a 13-9 edge. Knight's kill made it 17-12. A Genis swing put UCLA in charge at 21-14. Pepperdine closed to 23-20, but a J.R. Norris IV kill put the Bruins at set and match point. The Waves saved a couple of match points but an error on their third attempt ended the contest.