MALIBU -- The third-ranked BYU men's volleyball team's season might have come to an end on Thursday, falling to No. 1 Pepperdine, 26-30, 24-30, 30-22, 25-30 in semi-final round action. Having lost just twice in the past 14 matches, the Cougars will now have to await the decision of the NCAA selection committee on Sunday in order to determine if they will be invited as an at-large selection to the NCAA Championship Tournament.
"I thought we played really hard and we had our hearts on the floor," BYU head coach Carl McGown said. "They might have been timid hearts, but we tried hard. We just weren't good enough.
"When it came to the fundamental part of the game, we just weren't very good tonight. We didn't serve-receive very well, which caused [Carlos Moreno] to run around a lot. And when Carlos has to run around, we just aren't able to mix things up. Under those circumstances, you just can win very many matches."
The Waves pounded away at the Cougars with a balanced attack. Four different players recorded 10 or more kills, including Lance Walker who picked up a team-leading 14 kills on 28 swings. The Waves were just as balanced on defense, recording 17 blocks on the night, including 9.0 blocks in game four. Brad Keenan recorded a match-high eight blocks, followed by Chris Van Reusen with seven.
In game one, the Cougars took a brief lead, but Sean Rooney pounded one of his 13 kills on the night to even things up at 19-19. Pepperdine then went on a 5-0 run that seemed to deflate the BYU bid for a game-one victory. The Cougars crawled back to within two at 28-26, but a Brad Keenan kill and a BYU error ended game one, 30-26.
In game two, Pepperdine cruised to a 21-11 advantage when BYU started to make a run. The Cougars produced a 13-4 run to get within two at 25-23. The Waves however, had momentum in their favor and went on to the 30-24 victory, scoring five of the games last six points.
Game three belonged to BYU. While Pepperdine managed to tie things up on two different occasions, the Cougars never relinquished the lead during the game. After Pepperdine tied things up at 15-15, the Cougars went on a 6-1 run to take a 21-16 advantage. Pepperdine made things interesting by cutting the lead back to two at 22-20, but BYU managed an 8-3 rally to end the match with a 30-22 victory.
Game four started out similar to game three, but the top-ranked Waves grabbed the momentum and led by as many as eight points. Trailing 15-23, the Cougars could no closer than 23-26 before the Pepperdine defense proved to be too much. The Waves took the 28-23 lead on a Keenan-Beau Daniels block combo and had a pair of kills from Rooney to end the match, 30-25.
All-American Mike Wall led BYU with 17 kills on the night, followed by Joaquin Acosta with 11. Acosta also led the Cougars with three aces.
The NCAA selection committee will meet on Sunday morning to decided the one and only at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Final Four begins on Thursday, May 2 at Penn State. The winners of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association and the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association will receive automatic bids to the NCAA tournament, leaving one at-large selection.