- •#5 Pepperdine def. McKendree 3-2, 23-25, 18-25, 25-14, 25-21, 15-11
- Pepperdine (1-0), McKendree (0-1)
- Hosted by Pepperdine
- Attendance: 327
Pepperdine makes a huge 0-2 comeback on McKendree, to take their first match of the season in five.
Leading the Pepperdine offense was Michael Wexter with 17 kills, Mitchell Penning added 14 on a .619 hitting percentage and five blocks, while Noah Dyer finished with 10 kills and five blocks.
Pepperdine setter Joshua Stewart recorded a double-double with 52 assists and 11 digs.
For McKendree, Maalik Walker put down 21 kills on a .417 hitting percentage, while Wyatt Patterson added 13 kills hitting for .571. Zach Thompson picked up a match-best 15 digs.
Courtesy of Pepperdine Athletics
The No. 5 Pepperdine men’s volleyball program came back tough to open the 2017 campaign with a reverse sweep victory over McKendree this Wednesday night in Firestone Fieldhouse. After going down 23-25 and 18-25, the Waves battled back with 25-14, 25-21 and 15-11 set wins to pick up the first win of the season.
Pepperdine (1-0) produced a .350 hitting percentage overall after refusing to hit below the .467 mark in the final three sets. The Waves were good for 67 kills with only 19 errors on 137 swings and added seven aces, 59 assists, 43 digs and 8.0 team blocks on the night.
In response, the Bearcats posted a .339 success rate with 59 kills, while adding four aces and 8.0 team blocks as well.
Serving as the firecracker to light up the Waves offense after coming in for the third set, redshirt sophomore David Wieczorek (Chicago, Ill./Loyola Academy) led the team with 19 kills, just one shy of his career-high output. He was demanding with a .581 hitting percentage.
Senior setter Joshua Stewart (San Jose, Calif./Bellarmine College Prep/Pacific) was instrumental after dishing out 52 assists and posting his first double-double of the season and second career with a tied career-best 11 digs as well.
Also hitting lights out on the offensive were sophomore Michael Wexter (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way West HS), senior Mitchell Penning (St. Louis, Mo./Westminster Christian HS) and freshman Noah Dyer (San Clemente, Calif./Saddleback Valley Christian HS), who all posted double-figure kill efforts.
Wexter was all around with a career-high 17 kills on a .333 success rate, along with a career-topping three aces, seven digs and four blocks. Penning was tough in the middle for the Waves, amassing 14 kills on a more-than-impressive .619 hitting percentage. He added an ace and tied for the Waves-high five blocks alongside Dyer. Dyer added 10 kills in his debut for Pepperdine, while tallying an ace, five blocks and four digs.
Redshirt senior Kyle Suppes (Union City, Calif./Bellarmine College Prep) tabbed a .750 hitting output with a 3-0-4 performance and added two blocks and redshirt junior Weston Barnes (Laguna Beach, Calif./Laguna Beach HS) was absolutely lights out in the back row with nine digs.
The opposition came out with a strong start in the first and second sets, hitting for .269 and .552 percentages as opposed to the Waves .094 and .182 outputs. The offensive led McKendree to 25-23 and 25-18 set wins to start the night off 2-0.
It was at the beginning of the third set that Pepperdine flipped the switch and started crushing the back row. The Waves annihilated the Bearcats 25-14 to start the comeback. In the first points of the set, Wieczorek was raring to go, posting four of the Waves six first points with kills to put the home team up 6-4. After a quick point exchange, Suppes at the service line put the opponents off-kilter and allowed the Waves to gain a quick 11-6 advantage. It was a lead that the Bearcats would be unable to come back from, and a 7-0-8 output from Wieczorek, including big serves from senior Max States (Honolulu, Hawai’i/Solimar Academy) shut the set down.
In the fourth set, both teams were looking to make an early impact. The Waves were able to gain the edge with blocks from Wexter and Suppes and an ace from Wexter to go up 12-6 early. McKendree put in some solid defense to close the gap to two-points, but the Waves were not willing to roll over so easily and three consecutive kills from Wexter, Penning and Dyer put the home team ahead 18-14. Pepperdine closed the door and shut the set down 25-21 on the attack efforts of Suppes to tie the match and send things to a fifth.
The early moments of the deciding set had fans on edge, but after a quick 2-2 tie, Wieczorek’s service output, including back-to-back smashes from Wexter put the Waves up 5-2. The opposition was unable to close the gap any further than that, and Wieczorek, Suppes and Wexter helped put the set away 15-11 to provide Pepperdine with the team’s first win of the new season.
The Waves will play the No. 2-ranked team in Canada’s national rankings on Thursday and Friday (Jan. 5 and 6) this week, beginning with the first match-up tomorrow in Firestone Fieldhouse at 2 p.m.
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