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Waves Left Weeping After Loss


MALIBU — There were tears after it ended Wednesday, followed by questions about the location of Pepperdine's heart.

This was supposed to be the year the Waves beat USC in women's volleyball, which hasn't happened since 1990.

But the heart and the timing were missing on Wedensday, and so was a victory, as USC beat Pepperdine, 15-6, 11-15, 15-13, 15-6 at Firestone Fieldhouse.

Pepperdine (5-3) has lost its last five matches against the Trojans and 24 of 31 overall .

"It seemed like we lost some heart and we can't do that," said Pepperdine outside hitter Nicole Sanderson, who had 23 kills. "We have to believe in ourselves."

At certain junctures, they did.

After a poor first game (14 kills, 10 errors), the Waves put themselves back into it with defense.

Their digging helped win the second game--so did seven kills by Sanderson and six by Kymme Vicknair--and their blocking was big in the third.

Anna Witkowski and Carrie Romer each had two blocks as Pepperdine took a 7-2 lead.

But USC (6-1) is ranked No. 11 for a reason. Actually, a couple.

Jasmina Marinkovic helped the Trojans with eight kills in the third game.

Pepperdine soon trailed, 14-11, and fought off four game points before falling on a block by Kirsti Olson.

The fourth game was dominated by USC outside hitter Vesna Dragicevic, who had 10 of her 27 kills.

"She was amazing," said Marinkovic, who had 17 kills.

The beginning of the season was impressive for Pepperdine, which defeated two top-25 opponents in Pacific and Brigham Young.

But losses to Idaho State and Colorado State last weekend, and now to USC, have dimmed things.

"To be honest, we thought we could compete with this team and beat them," said Pepperdine Coach Nina Matthies, who got nine blocks from Romer and 17 kills from Vicknair. "We only get once a year to play these guys. I've seen us play at a higher level and as a coach, I expect them to play better."

Matthies says at the beginning of the season her team executed everything and looked crisp.

"Then we might have felt, gosh, we're pretty good," she said. "We might have taken the edge off, not pressed as bad, not taken the extra step. We're a good team if we get together and help."

It's no longer a September to remember, but the Waves have a chance to rebound Saturday at 15th-ranked UC Santa Barbara.

Said Sanderson: "It's going to be a tough match for us, but we've got to get our heart back."

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