MALIBU, Calif. - The top-ranked Pepperdine women’s sand volleyball team competes in the first of two USAV Collegiate Challenge events this week, March 14-16, at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. The Waves have duals lined up with #4 Florida State, #9 Nebraska and Grand Canyon, before battling in a pairs championship.
LOOKING BACK - The Waves opened the 2013 season with a convincing 5-0 win over #8 Florida International. Lilla Frederick and Kim Hill held down the top spot in the lineup with a 2-1 (24-22, 18-21, 15-7) victory over Kate Stepanova and Maryna Samoday. The duos of Lara Dykstra/Caitlin Racich, Kelley Larsen/Kellie Woolever and Victoria Adelhelm/Jazmine Orozco all won in straight sets while Emily Cook and Taylor Racich prevailed in three.
NO. 1 - Fifth-year seniors Lilla Frederick and Kim Hill are playing at the top of the Waves’ lineup so far in 2013, and are the only pair who was together last season in 2012 ... Frederick and Hill boast a career-record of 26-9 including 15-4 in dual action ... Both Frederick and Hill picked up AVCA All-American honors last year ... Hill earned AVCA All-American first team accolades during the 2011 indoor season making her the first and to date only student-athlete to be awarded AVCA All-American first team recognition in both indoor and sand volleyball during the same academic year.
PRESEASON POLL - In the first-ever rankings release by the AVCA, the Waves came in at #1. Long Beach State, who finished second at the AVCA National Championship last season, came it at #2, followed by USC and Florida State. The remaining top-10 teams include Hawaii, UCLA, College of Charleston, Florida International, Nebraska and Stanford.
PEPPERDINE TRADITION - Pepperdine is no stranger to winning national titles. Since 1947, the Waves have won 21 various championships. At the NCAA level, Pepperdine has claimed nine team championships (Men’s Volleyball, 5; Baseball, 1; Men’s Golf, 1; Men’s Water Polo, 1; Men’s Tennis, 1) and three individual titles (men’s tennis: 2 doubles champions, 1 singles champion). The Waves have also won national team and individual titles at the NAIA level back in the 1950’s and clinched its first championship when the now defunct football team won the 1947 Small College crown. The Waves’ 2012 AVCA National Championship titles, both the team and the pairs, were Pepperdine’s first national championships captured by any of their women’s teams
ZUMA BEACH - The Waves call Zuma Beach “home,” practicing and hosting all home events at one of Malibu’s most picturesque locations. Courts are located just beyond Point Dume when traveling from campus, or near the 29800 block of the Pacific Coast Highway.
COMING SOON! - The Waves announced that Delaney Knudson will join the team in 2014. Knudson committed to the Waves back in November and is the program’s first National Letter of Intent signee. A product of Valencia, Calif., Knudson has held a AAA rating in the California Beach Volleyball Association rankings since the age of 16.
Nina Matthies - Nina Matthies’ just completed her 30th season as head coach for the indoor team and boasts a career record of 575-332 (.634), which includes 10 conference championships and 20 NCAA Tournament appearances. She is by far the WCC’s all-time winningest coach and is a 10-time WCC Coach of the Year. Matthies was among the world’s top players and is a member of the Beach Volleyball Hall of Fame. In 2009, Dig Magazine rated her and former partner Linda Hanley as the second-best women’s beach team of all time. She won two AIAW national championships as a player at UCLA.
Marcio Sicoli - Marcio Sicoli is in his second season assisting Matthies in the sand after just completing his fifth season on the sidelines for the indoor team. Sicoli is highly lauded for his approach to training and served as head coach for Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings during their gold-medal run at the 2012 London Olympics. Sicoli also served as the assistant coach for the Brazilian Olympic Women’s Beach Volleyball Team from 2000 to 2004. In 2004, his team of Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede took home the silver medal in Athens.
THE FORMAT - This week Pepperdine will compete in a dual format, similar to college tennis, where the No. 1 pair from one school plays the No. 1 pair from the opposing school, No. 2 vs. No. 2 and so on and so forth. A team must win three of the five matches in order to clinch the team victory. A pairs championship will also take place on Friday and Saturday, with the individual pairs playing in a single-elimination bracket.
SAND VOLLEYBALL 101 - Each team competition is called a dual and will consist of five pairs from one school versus five pairs from another school. Each match is worth one point towards the team score. In this best-of-five format, a winner is determined when a team scores at least three points (similar to how collegiate tennis duals are contested).
The separate matches consist of a best-of-three sets, with rally scoring to 21 in the first two sets and to 15 in the third set if necessary. Teams must win by at least two points.
Pairs competitions will also be held this season, with the two-person teams being placed in brackets and playing in single or double elimination tournaments.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? - There are a few key elements of sand volleyball that differ from its indoor counterpart. No open hand tipping is allowed and the block touch counts as the first of three allowable contacts. Coaches may only speak to players or give instruction during timeouts or between sets. Finally, to make a level playing field with regards to impact of the sun and wind, the players switch sides of the court every seven points in a 21 point set, and every five points in a 15 point set. The court is also smaller at 8x8 meters, while the indoor court measures 9x9 meters.
WHAT’S AN EMERGING SPORT? - Collegiate sand volleyball is an “emerging sport.” It has 10 years to gain the minimum 40 sponsoring institutions for two years in a row to be considered an NCAA Championship sport.
VOLLEYBALL HISTORY - The Pepperdine women’s sand volleyball program has been at the forefront of the sport since it was introduced in 2012. The Waves went a perfect 14-0 in dual match play and won the inaugural AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Team Championship in Gulf Shores, Ala. Pepperdine’s Caitlin Racich -- the program’s first-ever scholarship recipient -- and partner Summer Ross took home the pairs national crown as well. Racich and Ross, as well as Kim Hill and Lilla Frederick, were all named to the 10-member inaugural sand volleyball AVCA All-American class. Hill stands as the first, and to date only, student-athlete to earn AVCA All-American first team honors in both indoor and sand volleyball in a single season.
ABOUT PEPPERDINE - Pepperdine boasts a one-of-a-kind athletic department with unprecedented success for a school of its size. The Waves have won NCAA Division I championships in five different men’s sports - one of just 16 schools to have accomplished this feat - and nine overall. Of this elite group, Pepperdine has the smallest enrollment and is the only school not in a major conference. Located in scenic Malibu, Calif., the university overlooks the Pacific Ocean and its campus and athletic facilities are regularly voted among the nation’s most beautiful. Pepperdine, which is affiliated with the Church of Christ, ranks #54 overall on U.S. News and World Report’s list of America’s best colleges.