Waves Win Second AVCA National Championship
May 3, 2014
GULF SHORES, Ala. - For the second time in three seasons, the Pepperdine sand volleyball team raised the AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship trophy. The Waves defeated Florida State 3-2, relying on Becca Strehlow and Lara Dykstra to clinch the dual in the final match of the afternoon.
Tied 2-2, it all came down to Strehlow (Long Beach, Calif./Woodrow Wilson HS/UCLA) and Dykstra (Redondo Beach, Calif./Redondo Union HS/Nebraska), who beat Stephanie and Kristina Pellitteri in straight - albeit painstakingly close - sets.
"I thought Becca and Lara stayed real calm," said head coach Nina Matthies after the contest, "We're all real competitive and want perfection, but sometimes perfectionism doesn't necessarily win volleyball matches, or anything in life really. But they took it point by point, stayed within themselves and didn't panic.
"That's a lot of pressure right there, for it to all come down to one court," continued Matthies. "I just saw what I've seen from them all along. They're both really great competitors and really great players."
Pepperdine struck first when Sophie Asprey (Southlake, Texas/Liberty Christian School/Tulane) and Victoria Adelhelm (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif./Santa Fe Christian HS) swept Sierra Sanchez and Hailey Luke for the second time this weekend. Although both sets were decided by just two points, Asprey proved to be the good luck charm at set point and deposited an ace to end both frames.
Florida State quickly evened the score as Melanie Pavels and Julie Brown paid Katie Messing (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands HS) and Emily Cook (Huntington Beach, Calif./Murrieta Valley HS) back for the loss in the quarterfinals yesterday. Messing and Cook made a valiant comeback effort in the second frame to try to force a third, but fell just short 24-22.
Caitlin Racich (Santa Barbara, Calif./Dos Pueblos HS) and Delaney Knudsen (Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS), who were edged by FSU in the quarterfinals, once again suffered defeat against Sarah Wickstrom and Fatma Yildirim, bowing out in two sets.
Down 2-1, the Waves were faced with a must-win situation in all the remaining matches. When Racich and Knudsen lost, Team Kell(i)ey, made up of seniors Kellie Woolever (Long Beach, Calif./Woodrow Wilson HS) and Kelley Larsen (Jamul, Calif./Christian HS), was heading to a third set against Jace Pardon and Aurora Davis.
Unbeknownst to them, Woolever and Larsen did not know they had to win in order to keep Pepperdine alive in the dual. Even so, they pair played with the poise expected of seniors.
"I trust those two wholeheartedly. They play free and easy, always smiling, and with enthusiasm together," said Matthies. "I didn't tell them they were in that situation because I wanted them to enjoy the moment."
After a brief pause to regain her composure Matthies mused, "Moments like this just don't come all the time, so you have to enjoy it when they do."
Both teams battled point-for-point, with both duos siding out at near-perfect success rates. Woolever and Larsen finally got the break they needed to take a 13-11 lead. Up 14-11, Pardon and Davis killed off two match points before Woolever put the exclamation mark on a long rally with a kill to keep Pepperdine alive and tie the team score 2-2.
The dual came down to Strehlow and Dykstra on Championship Court against the Pellitteris. The Waves' No. 2 squad had edged the sisters 26-28, 21-19, 15-9 a little more than 24 hours prior.
After taking set point, the Pellitteris knotted the first frame up 21-21 to send the game into extra points. Strehlow and Dykstra didn't let the missed opportunity get them down, however, and the pair prevailed 24-22.
Set two was another battle to score while serving, with both sides siding out at nearly 100-percent. Up 11-10 at the changeover, the Waves strung together a 6-3 run to take command of the second set. From there, it was just a matter of siding their way out to victory, which Strehlow and Dykstra successfully did to clinch the dual.
The pair was greeted by their teammates, sitting courtside, providing omnipresent support. A celebratory dip in the Gulf of Mexico followed, similar to the post match festivities back in 2012, when Pepperdine won the inaugural national crown.
While the team championship is over, Woolever and Larsen, as well as Strehlow and Dykstra continue on tomorrow with the pairs championship.
Dual | #2 Pepperdine 3, #4 Florida State 2