Pilots earn first ever season sweep over Pepperdine

By Molly McSweyn | November 3, 2016 10:40pm
by Hannah Baade / The Beacon

The Pilots had yet another record-setting night as they clinched their first ever season sweep over Pepperdine on Thursday, beating them in four sets.

With the win, the Pilots improve their record to 14-10 overall and 7-5 in WCC play while Pepperdine drops to 10-14 on the year and 4-8 in conference.

The Pilots had a strong start, leading Pepperdine 6-1 early on. But the Waves did not let up and brought the score to a tie at 9-9.

As the Waves kept up their aggression and pulled to a lead, the Pilots began to look worried and frantic in their movements. Their nerves got the best of them as players began making small mistakes that cost them points.

“I thought we did some things well this match,” coach Brent Crouch said. “We passed pretty well, we had some good serves and some good defense. But our offense was sputtering a bit, we had a tough time getting kills. So we will get back in the gym and try to clean that up a bit.”

Even as their energy wavered, the Pilots did not let the game slip away from them, keeping the score within a few points at all times.

In the last minutes of the game, junior outside hitter Hannah Troutman made three huge points to clinch the first set win at 25-23.

The Waves pulled to an early lead in the second set but the Pilots did not let up. The teams continued to battle it out with long rallies but the Pilots were able to pull ahead and hold on to their slight lead for the rest of the set.

Troutman helped pull the Pilots to a wider lead with a point off of a Pepperdine block, which put the score at 21-15. The Pilots kept their lead as senior middle block Brittney Markwith came away with a point off of a ball violation by Pepperdine to win the set 25-21.

“I thought it was really great,” Troutman said. “We worked hard on getting our offense back together again, I thought we did a really good job tonight. And our defense was amazing.”

The teams both came out in the third set with renewed energy. They looked more ready to play and hungry for each point.

The Pilots were able to pull to a slight lead early on as sophomore Reghan Pukis made a solo step block point to put the score at 6-3. But the Pilots could not hold the lead for long and the Waves found themselves on top 10-8.

The two teams continued to fight but the Waves held onto their lead as the Pilots continued to drag for the rest of the set. Pepperdine cinched the set by beating the Pilots 25-23.

“I think that we started out really well against them, we started on fire,” freshman setter Cali Thompson said. “I mean 6-1, that was awesome. We just have a tendency of letting them come back and get on a run but thankfully we pulled it together and won the first two sets, and the third set we didn't start off that well and just made a lot of unforced errors. But then in the fourth set we came back and did much better; it was ugly but we came out with the win.”

The Pilots pulled to an early lead in the fourth set, earning an 8-3 lead. But Pepperdine did not slow down and they were able to pull to a lead at 14-13.

The ball was aggressively volleyed back and forth as the two teams battled to hold the lead towards the end of the fourth set. Pukis came up big to score multiple times, putting the team at 21-18. The Pilots were able to hold the lead and Troutman scored the set-winning point, topping the Waves 25-22.

With the end of the season nearing, the team has their work cut out for them as they head into a difficult stretch of games with matchups against BYU and Pacific. Still, players are confident in their abilities to have a good showing.

“I feel really good,” Troutman said. “Once you get to the end of a season it usually dwindles but we have been really progressing and just exponentially growing.”

The team has their work cut out for them as they play LMU, who is 16-9 overall, on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Chiles.