Blocks were key in lifting No. 3 UCLA and No. 14 Concordia Irvine to MPSF quarterfinal sweeps on Saturday night. No. 20 USC meanwhile pulled the lone upset of the night, besting No. 8 Pepperdine in four sets with help from 19 Gianluca Grasso putaways.
#2 Seed UCLA def. #7 Seed Stanford 3-0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-18)
- UCLA moves to 23-6; Stanford falls to 6-20
- Los Angeles, California
- Box Score
- Stanford Recap / UCLA Recap
- UCLA moves on to MPSF semifinals to face Concordia Irvine
Key Stats: UCLA piled up 14 blocks, holding Stanford to a .057 hitting effort in the sweep. The Bruins hit at a .389 clip and also boasted the advantage in kills (29-27), blocks (14-3) and aces (5-1). The Bruins hit .524 in the opening set, racked up seven blocks, limiting the Cardinal to a -.217 effort in the second, and turned in a .333 hitting effort in the third.
Stat Leaders: A balanced offensive attack was key for the Bruins. Senior opposite Christian Hessenauer led the way with eight kills, while junior outside Dylan Missry (7), sophomore middle Daenan Gyimah (6) and senior outside Jake Arnitz (5) followed. Gyimah hit at a .500 clip and put up six blocks, while Missry hit .455. Redshirt senior middle Oliver Martin added five stuffs, while Hessenauer and junior setter Micah Ma’a chipped in four apiece. Ma’a also served up two of the team’s five aces.
Junior outside Jordan Ewert was tops offensively for Stanford with nine kills, but hit at a -.043 clip (9-10-23). Freshman opposite Jaylen Jasper tallied six kills, but hit .000 (6-6-19), while redshirt senior middle Kevin Rakestraw added five putaways on a perfect 1.000 clip (5-0-5). Rakestraw was one of five players with a block to his credit, while Ewert served up the team’s lone ace.
It Was Over When: UCLA led throughout Set 3, leading by as many as seven in the 25-18 victory. After a tie at 8, the Bruins scored five straight, including three Stanford miscues, to go up 13-8. From there, the Cardinal would get no closer than three, although they did so six times, last at 18-15. UCLA pulled away for good with a 4-0 run, helped by three Stanford errors and a block by Missry and Gyimah. A Sam Kobrine kill made it 24-17 and a triple block by Hessenauer, Gyimah and Jake Arnitz sealed the victory two points later.
#6 seed USC def. #3 Seed Pepperdine 3-1 (25-22, 19-25, 26-24, 25-18)
- USC moves to 8-19; Pepperdine falls to 15-8
- Malibu, California
- Box Score
- USC Recap / Pepperdine Recap
- USC moves on to MPSF semifinals to face BYU
Key Stats: USC outhit Pepperdine .387 to .267, thanks to .550 plus efforts in the final two stanzas of the victory. After hitting just .182 in the opening set, USC bounced back with a .308 effort and two .550-plus clips to wrap up the match. The Trojans also edged the Waves in kills (57-55) and blocks (8-6). Pepperdine, which won both regular season meetings with the Trojans, 3-2 on Feb. 17 and 3-0 on March 29, boasted a slight 6-5 lead in aces.
Stat Leaders: Junior outside Gianluca Grasso downed a team-best 19 kills and hit at a .607 clip, while adding seven digs, three blocks and two aces to lead the Trojans. Junior outside Ryan Moss just missed a double-double, turning in nine kills and 10 digs, while freshman middle Sam Lewis chipped in six kills and seven stuffs. Redshirt senior setter Gert Lisha served up two aces to go with 47 assists, eight digs and two blocks.
MPSF Player of the Year David Wieczorek posted 20 kills and senior outside Alex Harthaller followed with 15 to top the Waves offense. Harthaller hit at a team-high .378 clip and added two aces and three blocks, while junior middle Max Chamberlain racked up five kills and three blocks, while hitting .364. Junior outside Michael Wexter also put up three stuffs, while also contributing five kills and two aces.
It Was Over When: Leading by just one at 9-8 in Set 4, USC scored five in a row, including two blocks, to vault ahead 14-8. After a service error, the Trojans poured on three of the next four, with kills by Grasso and Jack Wyett, to go up 17-10. A Wyett ace pushed the margin to eight at 20-12, but Wieczorek notched two putaways in a 4-1 Pepperdine run to make it 21-16. Two Lewis putdowns put USC on the hill for the upset at 24-17. A service error paused the Trojans momentarily, but a block by Wyett wrapped up the match and extended USC’s season.
#4 seed Concordia Irvine def. #5 seed Grand Canyon 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-23)
- Concordia Irvine moves to 16-14; Grand Canyon falls to 18-11
- Irvine, California
- Box Score
- GCU Recap / Concordia Recap
- Concordia moves on to MPSF semifinals to face UCLA
Key Stats: A 7-0 advantage in aces and 12-4 lead in blocks lifted the Eagles to the home sweep. Concordia Irvine outhit GCU .318 to .237 and also owned a 41-39 edge in kills. The Eagles hit .333 or better in sets 1 and 3, while holding the Lopes under .300 the entire night.
Stat Leaders: Senior outside Jonathan Predney led the way for the Eagles with 10 kills, while five others notched four or more putaways. Junior middle Hunter Howell downed eight kills on a team-best .727 hitting effort, while also putting up seven blocks. Redshirt sophomore outside Raymond Barsemian chipped in eight putdowns and four aces, while senior opposite Josiah Bergt managed six kills on a .750 hitting effort. Redshirt junior setter Chandler Gibb put up eight stuffs, while also accounting for 35 assists, a team-high five digs and two aces.
Senior outside Luke Turner paced the Lopes with 13 kills, while hitting .556 and adding five digs. Senior outside Shalev Saada and sophomore middle Caleb Blazer turned in five putaways each, while redshirt senior middle Ashton King and junior outside Will Schwob downed four apiece. Blazer put up a team-high three blocks, while Schwob hit .667 and Saada added five digs.
It Was Over When: Concordia Irvine took control of Set 3 with a 4-0 run, which put the Eagles up 10-6 and forced a GCU timeout. Howell notched a kill and a block in the rally, which was capped by a Barsemian ace. Down five at 14-9, Grand Canyon mounted a comeback, scoring seven of the next 11 to narrow the gap to two at 18-16. A block and a kill by Barsemian and two Turner putaways aided the Lopes in the stretch. The Eagles pushed ahead by five at 23-18 as Predney, Darcy Taig and Saada each posted a kill. A Predney putaway and GCU hitting error wrapped up the sweep and sent Concordia on to the MPSF semis.