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BRUINS, WAVES KEY ON DEFENSE.

Byline: Lee Barnathan Staff Writer

MALIBU - Gambling isn't in their blood. So the UCLA and Pepperdine men's volleyball teams won't take chances.

``We have to win,'' said UCLA setter Brandon Taliaferro.

``We've got to win on Saturday,'' said Pepperdine interim coach Jeff Stork.

Opponents on the court share the same view off it: A win tonight in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference championship, starting at 7 at Pepperdine, earns the victor a berth in next week's NCAA Final Four in Ft. Wayne, Ind.

The loser will await word Sunday from the three-person NCAA committee about the at-large berth, feeling like a guy at a roulette table powerlessly awaiting to see if the ball lands on his number.

``I wouldn't know what three people are thinking,'' UCLA coach Al Scates said, ``and I don't know who they are.''

So the second-seeded Waves (22-4) and fourth-seeded Bruins (26-5) will meet for the third time this season. Each has a home victory.

The match will be won or lost above the net, for each team relies on its blocking. Eight UCLA players combined for 43 blocks in Thursday's semifinal victory over Loyola Marymount, led by Scott Morrow's 10. Pepperdine was outblocked by USC 29-26 in the Wave's four-game victory, but Andre Breuer had one solo and eight assists against just one error.

Both teams also distribute the hitting. Six Bruins had between 11 and 15 kills against LMU, and four Waves had between 15 and 27 kills against the Trojans.

MPSF MEN'S VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT FINAL

--Who: UCLA at Pepperdine

--When: Today, 7 p.m.

--At stake: Guaranteed berth in NCAA Final Four

CAPTION(S):

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Box: MPSF MEN'S VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT FINAL (see text)
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 29, 2000
Words:281
Previous Article:THOMAS INQUIRY CONTINUES.
Next Article:LAKERS NOTEBOOK: GAME 3 WON'T BE EASY, WARNS JACKSON.


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