by Dave Kimball, BYU Athletic Communications
LONG BEACH, Calif. (Apr. 26, 2008) -- The BYU men's volleyball team (25-5) fell to Pepperdine (16-10) Saturday in a 2-3 loss (30-28, 30-28, 30-32, 27-30, 8-15) in the championship match of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif.
The fifth-set loss is the first the team has suffered this season after going 5-0 in the fifth set during the regular season. The Cougars fall to 18-12 all-time in MPSF Tournament play and 3-2 in Tournament Championship matches.
Senior All-MPSF First Team honorees Ivan Perez and Russell Holmes were named to the All-Tournament team. Perez tallied his team-leading 10th double-double of the season with 20 kills and 12 digs. Holmes had 13 kills and five blocks, and senior Jonathan Charette also had 20 kills on the night.
"I was proud of my boys tonight," BYU head coach Shawn Patchell said. "It wasn't clicking for us, but we found ways to win the first two sets and never quit trying. I told them in the locker room that I was proud of the way they competed for such a long time."
BYU struggled from the service line in the first set, knocking eight serves into the net. The Cougars trailed most of the set, trailing by as many as five points, but tied the match for the first time at 27-27 on a hitting error from All-MPSF First Teamer Paul Carroll. BYU took its first lead of the match at 28-27 on Perez's second service ace. Pepperdine tied the set again at 28-28, but the Cougars sided out and subsequently won the set 30-28 on a Charette kill off the Waves' block. The Cougars has no blocks in the set and hit .256 as a team compared to Pepperdine's 3.5 total team blocks and .233 attack percentage.
The Cougars fell behind early again in the second set 3-9, but tied the set at 12-12. The Waves built another steady three-point lead, but BYU tied the match again at 24-24 and took the lead on the next point. The two teams were tied for the last time at 27, but the Cougars won three of the next points to earn their second come-from-behind set win on the night. Defensively BYU produced much more with 5.5 total team blocks in the set led by Trent Sorensen's four block assists. The Cougars hit .128 in the set, but held Pepperdine to .111.
The third set was different from the first two only in that the scales tipped the Waves' way at the end. Pepperdine held a steady three-point lead midway through the set, but BYU came back to knot it up at 18-18. Neither team took much of an advantage down the stretch, though. The Cougars were own 27-28, but won the next two points to earn a match point opportunity. BYU did not close the match on that chance and Pepperdine won the set 32-30 hitting .350 as a team to BYU's .381.
Again, the Cougars fell behind by five points in the fourth set down 11-16. Sophomore setter Reed Chilton checked into the match in an attempt to change the pace of play and shift momentum back in BYU"s direction. The two teams traded sideouts through the heart of the set to a 24-19 Pepperdine lead. The Waves remained in control of the set and had six set points before winning the set 30-27 with a .487 attack percentage and 2.0 total team blocks in the set. BYU hit .311 with only 1.0 total team block.
The Waves won the first four points and six of the first seven points of the deciding fifth set. Pepperdine was up 8-3 when the teams traded sides of the net. The Waves earned eight match-point opportunities up 14-6, but the Cougars could only score two more points before the Waves scored the final point to win 15-8.
The NCAA Final Four will begin Thursday at UC Irvine. Penn State and Ohio State have already qualified for the tournament by winning their respective conference tournaments along with Pepperdine. The at-large bid will be announced Sunday along with seedings and match times.