Lara Dykstra Takes Home Silver at FIVB U23 World Championships
June 19, 2014
MALIBU, Calif. – The Pepperdine sand volleyball team was well represented at the FIVB U23 World Championships, contested on June 10-15 in Myslowice, Poland. Lara Dykstra, Kelley Larsen and Kellie Woolever all won their respective pools during the preliminary round before Dykstra highlighted the tournament with a second-place result alongside her partner, Jace Pardon.
Dykstra (Redondo Beach, Calif./Redondo Union HS/Nebraska), a two-time AVCA All-American, opened pool play with Pardon, a fellow All-American on the Florida State sand volleyball roster, with a 4-1 record. Although the pair was the second-to-lowest seed in their six-team pool at #29, the duo won nine of their 11 sets to take first place.
Dykstra, who will be a redshirt junior this fall, and Pardon beat top-10 seeded teams from Brazil and Austria before dispatching #13-seeded Taru Lahti and Anniina Parkkinen of Finland 21-15, 21-13 in the semifinals.
In the finals, the Americans took on #2 seeded Nicole Laird and Mariafe Artacho of Australia. After splitting the first two sets, the Aussies prevailed 15-7 in the third to take the gold medal.
Woolever (Long Beach, Calif./Woodrow Wilson HS), who played alongside AVCA National Pairs Champion Sara Hughes (USC), and the team of Larsen (Jamul, Calif./Christian HS) and Betsi Metter (Loyola Marymount) impressed as well. Both tandems went a perfect 5-0 in pool play and reached the quarterfinals.
Larsen and Metter went 1-1 in qualification, and were put on a reserve list for the main draw. Fate was on their side, and the two received a last minute lucky loser’s entry into the main draw after a Nigerian team was forced to withdraw after being held up in customs at the airport.
The Americans made good on their second chance, winning all five pool play matches in straight sets. Larsen and Metter made a statement right away, shutting out top-seeded and hometown favorites Jagoda Gruszczynska and Karolina Baron 25-23, 25-12.
Larsen and Meter eliminated an Italian pair in the knock out round before falling to Lahti and Parkkinen in three sets in the quarterfinals.
Woolever and Hughes went 2-0 in qualification to punch their ticket into the main draw, and dropped just one set in pool play across five matches. The duo topped eventual champions Laird and Artacho 23-25, 21-18, 15-13 in pool play but lost in the rematch in the quarterfinals 21-16, 19-21, 16-14.
Larsen and Woolever, both fifth-year seniors in 2014-15, were 2014 AVCA All-Americans, as were both of their respective world championship partners.
The Waves won the 2014 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship back in May, marking their second national team title in three seasons. All three, Dykstra, Larsen and Woolever, are expected to return in 2015.