MANOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawai‘i men's volleyball team and Pepperdine went the distance in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament first round match with the Warriors winning a five-set thriller, 24-30, 30-24, 30-26, 22-30, 18-16 Saturday night at the Stan Sheriff Center, advancing the Warriors to the MPSF Championship semifinals Thursday, April 29 against top-seeded Stanford in Stanford, Calif.
MPSF Freshman of the Year Jonas Umlauft led the way with a match-high 36 kills, just one shy of his career-high and added six digs and four blocks. Outside hitter Joshua Walker and middle blocker Steven Grgas added 12 kills each while middle blocker Matt Rawson had 11 kills with no errors in 18 attempts.
"It was proven again that this is a great league and if you're not on top of your game every night you get punished for it," Setter Nejc Zemljak said. "We were lucky that we were focused and we got back so we need to enjoy the moment right now, but then we have to get ready for our next game."
In Set 1, the Warriors rallied from a 13-9 deficit and later from a three-point Pepperdine scoring run with a four-point run of their own to close to within 19-18. The Waves put together another three point run, capped by a Tyler Jaynes ace for a 26-21 lead and closed out the game with a 30-24 victory.
The Warriors and Waves battled it out for the first part of Set 2 before UH opened a 20-13 lead with seven straight points fueled by consecutive aces by Walker and back-to-back double-blocks by Rawson and Umlauft. The Waves inched their way back closing to within 21-19 but an ace by Zemljak and kill by Umlauft put UH on top 28-22.
The Warriors would take set 3, 30-26 with the Waves rebounding for a win set 4, 30-22.
In the deciding fifth set, the Waves jumped out to a 5-3 lead and again 9-6 forcing head coach Charlie Wade to use his second timeout. The Warriors tied it at 9 with Zemljak at the service line. The teams traded side outs until Umlauft's hitting error gave the Waves a 12-10 lead. Moments later Steven Hunt's solo block on Santos tied the score at 13. At 14-13 Pepperdine, Umlauft erased match point and his kill off a broken play, gave UH match point at 15-14. The Warriors blew two match points on a pair of service errors but the third time was the charm as Zemljak's fourth ace of the match sent off a wild celebration.
"I tried to make it the same as any other serve," Zemljak said. "We've been working on our serving a lot. If you trust in yourself…the one earlier went into the net and the next one went over."
Entering the match, the Warriors and Waves had split the season series in Malibu, Calif. Pepperdine saw its six-match win streak in the series at the Stan Sheriff Center snapped.
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