Pepperdine to play defending national champs in 2020

Jonathan Bates | Associate Editor

Pepperdine and Long Beach State have yet to play a regular season match since the Big West Conference started sponsoring men’s volleyball, but that will change in 2020. The two teams will meet for a match at the Walter Pyramid on January 24, a rematch of a NCAA Tournament semifinal match from last year.

Both teams had a strong 2019 as Long Beach State repeated as national champions, while Pepperdine won both the regular MPSF title and the conference tournament.

Both teams were hit hard from graduation, as the Waves lost five of their six starters to graduation. The Beach lost four of their six starters and their libero. How significant this talent loss? Look no further than the All-American award list from last year. These combined for four first-team selections, one second-team selection, and an honorable mention nod.


Pepperdine’s graduated starters represented 95% of their kills, 92% of their aces, and 88% of their blocks last year. On the other side of the net, Long Beach State’s graduated starters represented 96% of their aces, 88% of their digs, and 81% of their kills and aces.

It’s not all gloom and doom for the Waves as they welcome back Noah Dyer (2017 MPSF All-Freshman Team) who played libero last year. Joining Dyer is starting setter Robert Mullahey (2018 MPSF All-Freshman, 2019 All-American Honorable Mention).

The Beach welcomes back starting middle attacker Simon Andersen (2019 Big West Honorable Mention) and outside attacker Ethan Siegfried.

Pepperdine has brought in a strong freshman class, highlighted by Boys Youth National starting setter, Joe Karlous. Outside attacker Akin Akinwumi and opposite Scott Solan were on the U19 training team as well.

The teams have played 97 matches all-time against each other, with Pepperdine holding a 51-46 edge. The Beach has a 27-16 each on their home court, and has won the last five overall in the series.  Long Beach State has won their last 43 matches at home, a streak that goes back to March 2016.

The Waves will start the 2020 campaign with a pair of exhibition matches against Canadian teams, Guelph and Brandon. Pepperdine will play 23 matches overall, including 11 in non-conference play. Of the 11 matches, four will be against EIVA schools, three will be against Big West schools, two will be against Independents, and two will be against Division III schools.

2020 Pepperdine Schedule

Monday, Dec. 30 vs. Guelph (Exhibition)
Wednesday, Jan. 1 vs. Brandon (Exhibition)
Sunday, Jan. 5 vs. Cal Lutheran
Tuesday, Jan. 14 at Daemen
Wednesday, Jan. 15 vs. Harvard (Neutral site)
Friday, Jan. 17 at George Mason
Friday, Jan. 24 at Long Beach State
Friday, Feb. 6 at Stanford
Friday, Feb. 8 at BYU
Wednesday, Feb. 12 vs. Concordia-Irvine
Friday, Feb. 14 vs. USC
Friday, Feb. 21 at UC Santa Barbara
Sunday, Feb. 23 at Grand Canyon
Wednesday, Feb. 26 vs. UC Santa Barbara
Friday, March 6 vs. St. Francis Brooklyn
Wednesday, March 11 vs. Jamestown
Friday, March 13 vs. UCLA
Sunday, March 15 vs. Harvard
Saturday, March 21 vs. NJIT
Wednesday, March 25 at UCLA
Friday, March 27 vs. Grand Canyon
Thursday, April 2 at USC
Saturday, April 4 at Concordia-Irvine
Thursday, April 9 vs. BYU
Saturday, April 11 vs. Stanford