Pepperdine People Magazine
Pepperdine People Magazine Fall 2005
2005 National Volleyball Champions: Men's team rises to "Maliub Roofing Company" heights.
By Jaclyn Tully
On May 7 in UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, two crosstown rivals met to battle it out for the NCAA National Men's Volleyball Championship title. It was the UCLA Bruins vs. the Pepperdine Waves. More than a national championship was at stake. UCLA had never before lost a championship match on its home court. Pepperdine was hoping to lift its winning season to the level of the 1985 Waves team, which was celebrating the 20th anniversary of its national championship over USC, also played at Pauley Pavilion.
The 1985 and 2005 teams shared remarkable similarities. Under the head coaching of Marv Dunphy, both had set 25-2 all-time school records, both had 15-game winning streaks, and both were known for their blocking abilities. In fact, it was the outstanding blocking record that earned the 1985 team the nickname "the Malibu Roofing Company." (In volleyball, a "roof" is a block.) The 2005 final championship match, a best-of-five competition, got off to a strong start. Pepperdine won the first game over UCLA (30-23) and then lost the next two (23-30, 24-30). The fourth game was crucial and the Waves managed to keep the lead the entire game, winning 30-25.
"In between game four and five, Marv reminded us that we were 6-0 in five-game matches," recalls James Ka, who played libero, a back-row specialist. "That gave us the confidence we needed heading into game five." With that statistic in mind and maintaining the momentum from game four, the Waves leaped to an early 8-1 lead in the final game. Victory came in the form of a cross-court kill from senior outside hitter, Sean Rooney, the tournament's MVP. Pepperdine defeated UCLA 15-10, claiming the 2005 National Championship title.
More awards flowed as Pepperdine earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Coach of the Year, Player of the Year, and Newcomer of the Year. With its fifth national championship title in hand, the men's volleyball program brought glory and deserved recognition not only to the players and coaches, but to the entire University.
Coach Marv Dunphy
Marv Dunphy, a name synonymous with volleyball, is quick to applaud the championship team members and their families, his assistants, and the Pepperdine community.
Earlier in the season, Dunphy made a choice that many coaches would consider fatal. Dunphy boldly moved some of his players into positions they had never played. "He made changes in the lineup that I don't think any coach would have ever made," recounts Rooney. "But Marv had a vision for what would work, and I don't think anyone else would have been able to come up with that."
Rather than accept credit for his unprecedented decision making, Dunphy heaps praise on the team. "I know how hard it is to change behavior, which is what these guys had to do when we switched their positions. We got a championship because of their ability to do that."
With this win, Dunphy, 2005 Coach of the Year, moves into an elite group of coaches. He is one of few that have won a championship in each of the past four decades, and he picked up his 400th college career victory. He notes, "Any success I've had in my career is based not only on having good assistants and good players, but the benevolence of this institution and the investment they have made in me."
The AVCA Player of the Year, Rooney is also modest when it comes to his accomplishments. "Marv took me, an average player, and turned me into a good player." A promising recruit, Rooney was named AVCA Freshman of the Year, helping the team to a 25-9 record and the 2002 NCAA title match. He was also named to the first team All-American twice, and named the Volleyball Magazine Player of the Year before entering his senior year at Pepperdine.
Freshman setter, John Winder, named Newcomer of the Year by the AVCA, is much like the rest of the players, applauding Dunphy and the other coaches for the team's success. "Marv has the ability to find and bring out the best aspect of each player and use it to benefit the whole team. He, along with [Assistant Coach] Rick McLaughlin really gave me a lot of knowledge about the game."
In February and coinciding with Pepperdine's Homecoming, Firestone Fieldhouse fans gave a rousing welcome to the 1985 champion players, back after 20 years so that they could be honored by the 2005 team. A dramatic moment followed as the 1985 champions stepped off the court and the current team members stepped on, filling their predecessors' spots. "Nothing was said, but I could tell that the guys were thinking, 'We have some big shoes to fill,' " recalls Dunphy.
Knowing it's not just about winning and losing, Dunphy concerns himself with the entire volleyball program, including individual student athletes, assistant coaches and trainers. Not only does Dunphy stress the importance of working hard in practice, but he demands excellence from his players in all areas of their lives. "Marv has always been interested in my life outside of volleyball, asking about my family and stressing that class was my first priority," notes John Mayer, a senior outside hitter.
Dunphy's goodwill extends beyond his players. Rather than finding a few great assistants to stay year after year, he encourages a policy of a two-year minimum and a three-year maximum with the team. Dunphy feels that this formula helps his assistants grow in their careers.
This spring, the team graduated three of its outstanding starters: Ka, Mayer, and Rooney. Ka has begun work in the marketing and public relations field, and is currently coaching volleyball. Mayer will return to Pepperdine to get his teaching credential, and hopes to coach volleyball in the future. Rooney hopes to play on a European team this fall, and is in training for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. In the meantime, Rooney and Mayer have teamed up to compete in summer beach volleyball.
All three graduates are hopeful for the next season. Each echo Rooney, who says, "The 2006 squad holds onto much of the talent that took us to the 2005 title." And they all agree that not much will change when the team begins to practice next season: coach Dunphy will expect the guys to play steady, keep it simple, and "to do things right."
The championship team presents President
George W. Bush with a custom Dewey Weber
surfboard. - White House photo by Eric Draper
The night of the championship, Dunphy didn't sleep. After Saturday's victory reception, he met up with good friend and former Pepperdine staff member Gary Moy to continue their tradition after each championship since 1985 – hanging out together to share some soda and pretzels. Sunday morning dawned and, following breakfast, Dunphy moved on to his next appointment, an all-day league meeting.
Finally returning to Pepperdine Sunday evening, he pulled up to Firestone Fieldhouse in an unmarked van. A student public safety officer stopped him to ask him who he was with. Grinning, Dunphy said, "I am with the Malibu Roofing Company." Unaware of what he was talking about, the officer asked helpfully, "Well, do you know where you're going?"
Still smiling, he said, "Yes ma'am, I sure do."