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Long Beach State Trumps Pepperdine in Three Games


LONG BEACH — Pepperdine was a wild card in a stacked deck in Saturday's first round of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation men's volleyball playoffs.

The Waves lost eight of their last nine meetings with Long Beach State and hadn't won an away match since Feb. 27. When the dealing was done, it was a handful of aces and a full house that kept the Waves from an upset.

In front of 1,066 fans at The Pyramid, the second-seeded 49ers needed only one hour and 22 minutes to sweep the seventh-seeded Waves, 30-21, 30-26, 30-26, for the second time in 15 days.

"We feel very confident playing here and we're playing our best volleyball right now," said outside hitter Dave McKenzie, who led the 49ers with 28 kills. "We knew if we just executed the same way we did last time, the result would be similar."

Long Beach State (18-6) grabbed early leads in each game and trailed only in the third game.

The 49ers used a 5-0 run to take a 9-5 lead in the first game and went on a 4-0 run to lead 17-10. Matt Prosser ended the game with back-to-back aces.

The second game was tied, 24-24, until Tim May spiked through a block and Fred Winters hit wide to give the 49ers the lead for good. May ended the game with a quick kill after Scott Touzinsky's jump serve clipped the top of the net and was dug by middle blocker Chris Van Ruesen.

The last place the Waves wanted to play was The Pyramid, where they haven't beaten the 49ers since 1987. In its regular-season finale, Pepperdine was swept, 30-28, 30-24, 30-28, on the same floor.

"This game is pretty simple," said Pepperdine's 18-year Coach Marv Dunphy. "Basically, you're either good enough or you're not. You always want to be playing well at the end of the year and, as a coach, you always look for tendencies that the other team has that you can take advantage of. But in the end, the better team is going to win and they are a good, well-balanced team."

Pepperdine (14-10) gambled in the third game by switching from two setters to one, Keith Barnett. The teams traded one-point leads for most of the game, but Touzinsky's block on Lance Walker gave the 49ers a 26-24 lead.

On match point, Pepperdine watched Prosser's seventh ace land two feet inside the baseline.

"We knew we didn't play well last time, but we were pretty confident that we could come in here and win," said senior Scott Wong, who led the Waves with 19 kills. "They just outplayed us. They hit better, they served better and they blocked better. I've never ended a season with a win and I really wanted to do that. It's hard to believe my college career is over. It still hasn't hit me. But I graduate next week, so maybe it will sink in then."

Wong never missed a match in four years at Pepperdine. Barnett finished with 56 assists and nine kills, and Walker had 18 kills.

Long Beach State advanced to the semifinals in Provo, Utah, against third-seeded UCLA.

UCLA fought off three match points in game five before defeating Stanford, 27-30, 30-23, 30-22, 27-30, 20-19, at Pauley Pavilion.

Mark Williams and Cameron Mount each had 26 kills for UCLA (20-7).

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