MVB Takes Down Pepperdine to Clinch MPSF Title
The No. 1 UCLA men's volleyball team (19-3, 9-1) captured its seventh straight victory with a decision over No. 8 Pepperdine which clinched the top seed and made the Bruins the host team for the upcoming Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Tournament. Scores of the contest were 25-23, 25-19, 25-19.
The seven-match win streak is the longest by a UCLA team since the 2018 campaign when it achieved a pair of seven-match runs. The last time the Bruins had a longer streak was an eight-match streak in the middle of the 2016 season after it began that season with wins its first 10 contests. UCLA hit .452 in tonight's match to mark the 13th straight contest in which it has hit at least .300. Pepperdine swung at a .183 for the contest and became the sixth straight Bruin opponent to register an attack percentage under .200.
The 2022 MPSF Tournament will be held at UCLA on April 20, 21 and 23 and feature all seven league schools. As the top seed, the Bruins will receive a bye into the MPSF semifinals on April 21. Quarterfinal matches will be played at 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on April 20. The semifinal matches will be on April 21 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. The MPSF Championship will be decided on April 23 at 6 p.m. with the winner receiving the league's automatic bid into the seven-team NCAA Collegiate Men's Volleyball Championship which will also be held at UCLA from May 1-7. All matches will be played in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom. This will be the first time UCLA has hosted the entire MPSF Tournament since 1998. It last served as host of the NCAA Championship in 2018.
After Pepperdine jumped out to a 3-5 lead the begin set one, UCLA responded with the next four points to go up 7-5. The Waves rallied to go back in front 9-10. With the score even at 12-all, the Bruins took advantage of two straight Pepp errors to retake the lead. A block by Alex Knight, Guy Genis and Miles Partain upped the gap to 18-15. A Kevin Kobrine swing made it 20-17. Pepperdine leveled the score at 20 after a couple of Bruin attack errors and an ace. A service error and a block by Ethan Champlin/ Merrick McHenry/ Kobrine pushed UCLA back up 22-20. Knight's swing gave UCLA set point at 24-21. McHenry's smash ended the set at 25-23.
Kobrine's kill left UCLA up 6-5 to begin set two. A Champlin swing increased the margin to 11-9. After Pepperdine closed to 12-11, the Bruins ran off five straight, two on kills by Knight and McHenry, for a 17-11 edge. A Kobrine ace pushed UCLA into a 19-15 lead. Blocks by Genis/Partain led to advantages of 21-15 and 23-16. McHenry ended his second straight set with a kill, this time with a tip into the open court, to end a wild rally and earn a 25-19 win.
UCLA grabbed a 6-4 lead in set three after a kill from Knight. After Pepperdine came back to even the score at 8-all, UCLA tallied five of the next six points to move out to a 13-9 lead. Kills by Partain and Champlin made it 15-11. A Genis spike left UCLA up 19-16. The Bruins owned a 21-17 lead following Partain's ace and then Kobrine's cross court kill ended the match at 25-19.
Kobrine led the UCLA with 11 kills and 10 digs. He has reached double-digit kills in six of the last seven MPSF matches. Champlin recorded an ace for the ninth straight contest. McHenry added 10 kills and hit .769 on the night which was the 15th match this season in which he has reached the .500 attack percentage level in a match. The Bruins will conclude the 2022 regular season with a trip next week to play a couple of matches at BYU on Friday and Saturday nights.