Upset losses on Fridays at home are starting to become a theme for the No. 1 Matadors after losing to No. 10 Pepperdine 3-1 (30-24, 24-30, 30-22, 30-24) Friday night at the Matadome.
It was the second time in as many Friday’s that the Matadors lost at home to the No. 10 team in the country (lost 3-0 to then No. 10 UCLA on Jan. 22).
“The game like we had on Wednesday (against USC) everyone is putting there all on the court,” senior outside hitter Theo Edwards said. “We are sore we are tired and is tough but real good teams can do it as they win that big game on Wednesday and comeback battle again on Friday… we just had a little bit of a letdown tonight, is a little disappointing.”
Edwards had a career high 23 kills in the loss, while junior opposite hitter Tanner Nua added 15 and seniors Mike Gaudino and Kevin McKniff finished with eight a piece.
The Matadors (9-2, 6-2 MPSF) inability to serve and pass throughout the match was evident right from the start as the team combined to hit 0.54 in the first set. Even with all their hitting struggles in the first set the Matadors had a two point lead late in the frame at 21-19 on a kill by McKniff before a 7-1 run by the Waves (4-4, 4-3 MPSF) put the set away for Pepperdine.
“The game comes down to serving and passing, we served very poorly and the other team didn’t make many errors but we just never really handled their serve,” Coach Jeff Campbell said.
The Matadors rebounded from their dismal hitting first set in the second set thanks to a 8-1 run midway through the frame that helped them get out to an 18-14 lead. The Matadors took control of the set after their run, as the Waves were only able to get within three the rest of the frame.
The third set had a similar look to the first with a worst outcome as the Matadors hit .023 as a team and fell behind 8-3 early in the frame. The Matadors responded to the early deficit with a 4-0 that narrowed the margin to 10-9. Three points later the Matadors tied the set at 11 on a kill by Nua, the teams split the next two points. Tied at 14 the Waves took command of the set outscoring the Matadors 16 to 8 to close the set giving the Waves a 2-1 set advantage.
“Our passing broke down,” sophomore setter Matt Stork said of the Matador offensive struggles against Pepperdine. “I tried to get good sets to get a good swing on the ball and I guess I didn’t set well enough for us.”
A back and forth game early in the fourth set turned in to a big deficit midway through. Tied at six the set got away from the Matadors as the Waves went on a 12-3 run to go up 18-9. Pepperdine never looked back surfing there way to a 30-24 set win.
“This is the toughest league in the nation and anybody can beat anybody and they just proved that tonight.” senior middle blocker Jacek Ratajczak said.
The Matadors will look to rebound from the loss this week with back-to-back matches against two teams they defeat this season Long Beach State and UC San Diego on Thursday and Friday.