Waves Win Dual with USC, Ross and Racich Earn Pairs Championship Honors
April 7, 2012
MALIBU, Calif. – The Pepperdine women’s sand volleyball team capped its two-match home stand with a 4-1 triumph over local rival USC. Following the dual, the pairs squared off in a single elimination tournament. Caitlin Racich and Summer Ross were the last duo standing after going a perfect 4-0 on the day.
The Waves opened the day at Zuma Beach with four-straight set wins and improved their overall record to a perfect 10-0 on the season.
Kelli Branning (Menlo Park, Calif./Menlo-Atherton HS) and Emily Cook (Huntington Beach, Calif./Murrieta Valley, Calif.) opened the day with a convincing 21-15, 21-18 win against Kati Duddridge and Megan Thornberry.
Branning earned a season-high 16 kills along with 14 digs, while Cook dished three aces and three blocks.
The Waves took a 2-0 lead following Kellie Woolever (Long Beach, Calif./Woodrow Wilson HS) and Victoria Adelhelm’s two-set triumph in the No. 4 flight versus Kendall Bateman and Eve Ettinger.
In set one, USC jumped out to a 9-4 lead and still led by five at 13-8. The Waves rallied back to tie the set at 17-17. After trading points, the Women of Troy held a 20-19 lead and served for the set. Adelhelm answered with a kill and a service ace to put Pepperdine in front 21-20, and after a USC point, Woolever had a kill and ended the set with an ace (23-21).
In set two, USC again led early, going up 11-7 after four straight points, aided by two kills and a block by Ettinger. USC still led 18-14 when the Waves rattled off seven of the next eight points for the victory.
Kim Hill (Portland, Ore./Portland Christian HS) and Lilla Frederick (Huntington Beach, Calif./Cornelia Connelly HS) put Pepperdine out of reach with a dominating 21-12, 21-11 win from the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
The Wave duo out-killed Kelly Irvin and Kirby Burnham 22-15, and held a 4-1 blocking advantage. Hill was responsible for all four rejections. Overall, Hill and Frederick were extremely efficient on the attack, registering a .500 (22-3-38) hitting percentage compared to the Women of Troy’s .078 (15-11-51) clip.
Racich (Santa Barbara, Calif./Dos Pueblos HS) and Ross (Carlsbad, Calif./Carlsbad Seaside Academy) took down USC’s top pair of Sara Shaw and Geena Urango 21-16, 21-18 to tally the Waves’ fourth and final dual match win of the afternoon.
In set one, Pepperdine went up 5-2 and 8-4, but USC eventually closed the gap to one point at 11-10. After the timeout, Pepperdine scored four straight points on two kills by Ross and two by Racich. The Women of Troy got no closer than three points the rest of the way and Ross had back-to-back kills to end the set at 21-16.
In set two, USC led by a couple of points early on, but four straight points by the Waves put Pepperdine in front 7-6. The teams continued to trade the lead until tied at 18-18, Pepperdine scored three unanswered points to put the match away 21-18.
The Trojans avoided the sweep with a tight win in the No. 3 flight. Katie Fuller and Natalie Hagglund, who would go on to be USC’s most successful pair of the day, edged Stevi Robinson (Hermosa Beach, Calif./Mira Costa HS) and Kelley Larsen (Jamul, Calif./Christian HS) 25-23, 24-22.
A single elimination pairs championship followed, beginning with the No. 4 teams from each squad playing the No. 5 duo. The Waves advanced to the quarterfinals in both play-in matches, beginning with Woolever and Adelhelm, who eliminated Duddridge and Thornberry 21-16, 21-11.
Branning and Cook also reached the quarterfinals after downing Bateman and Ettinger, 21-15, 21-18, but suffered a straight-set loss to Ross and Racich to end their day with a 2-1 record.
Robinson and Larsen avenged their loss in dual play, beating the Trojan’s No. 2 pairing of Irvin and Burnham, 21-23, 23-21, 15-6.
They proceeded to fight in another three-set battle, this time against Ross and Racich, but the No. 1 Pepperdine pair advanced to the finals following a 21-15, 19-21, 15-10 triumph.
Ross and Racich met with Hagglund and Fuller – who entered the match 3-0 on the day – in the finals. The Waves maintained the lead from start to finish in the opening frame, and took the set 21-15.
Hagglund and Fuller opened set two on a 4-1 run and led 9-5 at the change over, but the Waves rattled off five of the next six points to comeback within one at 10-11.
Pepperdine overtook the lead 15-13, and although the Trojans were never far behind, the Waves never trailed the remainder of the set.
Up match point 20-17, USC won an exciting marathon point thanks in part to the impressive digging of Hagglund, but Racich was able to terminate the next ball to clinch her and Ross’ first pairs championship title of the season.
With the win, Racich and Ross now boast an 18-2 record.
The Waves return to action next weekend, April 14 and 15, when they battle Loyola Marymount, Long Beach State, USC and Hawaii at the USA Volleyball Collegiate Challenge in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
Pepperdine 4, USC 1