Men's Volleyball Q&A: Alex Gettinger

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Alex Gettinger, a freshman outside hitter on the men's volleyball team, tells us about his transition from high school volleyball to playing here at Pepperdine and what it's like to play under new head coach David Hunt:

Alex  Gettinger

Q: How was your first semester at Pepperdine?

A: It was very different and interesting. I'm from St. Louis, Missouri, where it's a lot colder and moves a lot faster compared to Malibu. I felt like I had a lot of free time here, more than I did in high school. It was nice getting used to being here.

Q: What led you to play volleyball at Pepperdine?

A: The coaches. Coach Hunt is an amazing coach. He learned a lot from the last head coach, Marv Dunphy.

Q: How have your first few weeks of season been?

A: It's been good! We lost this week to UC Irvine but it was a good match. I think the team is learning a lot.

Q: How did you feel playing in your first college match?

A: It was really cool. We played Cal Lutheran and going into the third set, having won the first two, Coach told me that I would be going in and I was really excited about it.

Q: What's it like playing volleyball at Pepperdine versus in high school or for the USA Youth and Junior teams?

A: Here, we lift three or four times a week and practice every day, which is a lot more than I did before. During high school and club, we didn't get that same volume of practice that we do here and we weren't required to lift.

Q: How do you feel playing for David Hunt, in his first year as head coach?

A: I think he's doing a fantastic job. I'm learning a lot from him and I'm sure my teammates are as well. It's a lot different than before. He's so knowledgeable about volleyball and it's so great to learn from him.

Q: What can we expect looking forward at the rest of your season?

A: From me, I'm just going to be ready to come in whenever Coach wants me to. From the team, I would say we're just going to be competitive. Our conference is always top level, so we just have to keep training and competing but I think we'll do well.

Q: What are your goals for the rest of your volleyball career at Pepperdine?

A: I would like to play as much as possible especially over the next couple of years as I develop a bit more. I also hope that we can continue to improve as a team. It will be competitive, but it would be really amazing if we could make it to NCAAs.

Peyton Langston is a first-year Wave, but she's one of the most experienced players on the women's basketball team after playing for three seasons at Evansville before heading to Malibu as a graduate transfer. She's second on the team at 8.5 points per game. Here are some of her thoughts on the season so far:

Peyton  Langston

Q: We are 10 games into the season and the WCC season is about to start. How do you feel the team has performed so far?

A: I think that we are performing well. There are definitely some things that we can improve on, but I feel that we can definitely make some solid changes as conference starts.

Q: Coming in as a transfer student, how was the transition to Malibu been?

A: It has been good. The coaching style that I had come from has definitely been different. The practices are really different, but I was able to adjust pretty quickly.

Q: Speaking of coaching styles, what has been the biggest difference between your old coaches, and Coach DeLisha Milton-Jones?

A: Coach DeLisha definitely has a more pro-style mindset. Her practices are more focused on game-like situations instead of just drills. We are doing things that will help us on gameday rather than just going through the motions of basketball practices.

Q: Was it difficult to mesh with the team coming in?

A: Definitely not. They were all really welcoming and friendly.

Q: How do you feel that you have performed personally up to this point in the season?

A: I feel like in the beginning, I performed really well, but the past few games I haven't really played to my true standard. But the season isn't over, so there is definitely time to make adjustments and get back to how I know I should be playing.

Q: Where do you feel is the team's biggest strength?

A: Our biggest strength is attacking the basket. We face a lot of zone defense, because teams know we can attack the hoop. We have been able to break the zone pretty effectively and continue to play to our strengths.

Q: How have you been able to break the zone to continue to get those successful baskets?

A: We have been practicing finding the weak spots in the zone so we can play to our strengths. We also try to push the ball down the court in transition so we don't have to even face the zone.

Q: How has Coach Milton-Jones helped you out both as a team and personally?

A: As a team, she knows what she is doing. She and her coaching staff are always on top of things, and one step ahead of everything. They are always going over film and looking for the small details. She prepares us for the small things that would normally fly under our radar, but are really important. Personally, she motivates me and tries to get me to work on things so I can better help the team.

Q: Finally, what can we expect from the Waves for the rest of the season?

A: You can expect and exciting rest of the basketball season, and for us to shake the conference up.

Men's Basketball Q&A: Darnell Dunn

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Darnell Dunn, a junior forward and a first-year men's basketball player after transferring here this year, discusses what led him to play for Pepperdine and how he hopes to improve throughout the rest of the season:

Darnell  Dunn

Q: How did you start playing basketball?

A: Basketball has always been in my family. My dad played in college, my uncles and my mom also played basketball. My dad was also a high school coach so I've always been around it.

Q: How were your first two basketball seasons at your previous colleges?

A: They were definitely learning experiences. I played at the junior college level as well as the Division II level so they were both really different. Playing the game is fun, no matter what, but it's even better now that I can play at the Division I level.

Q: How did you choose to come all the way to California, being a North Carolina native?

A: After I had a solid season in junior college, Pepperdine was one of the schools that caught interest in me. I've always liked adventuring and seeing new places so it felt right. Playing in the WCC was also something that I thought would be really cool.

Q: How has your first semester at Pepperdine been going?

A: It's been interesting. It's definitely an adjustment going back to a four-year college after being at a two-year one. The main focus for me has really been the school aspect because it's more intense than what I'm used to. I've also been trying to balance school with my basketball schedule.

Q: What is your role on the Pepperdine basketball team?

A: Right now, my role has been to come off the bench and bring energy and score when possible. Also, to defend and get rebounds.

Q: You used to play with current Lakers player, Brandon Ingram, in high school. Have you stayed in touch with him and gone to any of his games since moving out here?

A: I've been to a few of his games. He's like my brother, we grew up together so it's nice to just hang out with him on the weekends.

Q: What are you looking forward to for the rest of the season?

A: For us to get back on track. We've had a rocky start to the season and we're trying to find ourselves right now with a young team and a lot of new players. We're just hoping to turn this ship around. I know what we are capable of as a team and we haven't shown that yet.

Q: What are your goals for the rest of your time at Pepperdine?

A: My priority is to graduate and get my degree because I know that basketball isn't going to be forever, but I would also like to maximize my basketball potential and see where that can take me.

Women's Basketball Q&A: Tylinn Carter

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Tylinn Carter is a graduate transfer who is starting at forward for the Pepperdine women's basketball team. She is averaging 6.5 points through eight games. She shares what it's like to be playing as a graduate student and how she is feeling about her team's ability:

Tylinn  Carter

Q: What is it like being a graduate transfer? Is it weird to only be here for one season?

A: It is very different from my undergrad, especially since I am pursuing my master's in an online program. I have more free time than usual and I love it. I wouldn't say it is weird to be here for one season, but it is definitely heartbreaking. I only have one year to teach my younger teammates so I am hoping to make the best out of it and help them grow as basketball players.

Q: Why did you choose Pepperdine for grad school?

A: I chose to attend Pepperdine for grad school because it is a top academic school. I also did my research about the program I am pursuing and instantly grew an interest for it.

Q: What is it like playing for DeLisha Milton-Jones?

A: It is an absolute joy and a blessing to play for Coach DeLisha Milton-Jones. It's amazing to have a coach who understands the game and actually played at the level I am trying to get to. Because of her, I continue to play the game I love and have taken an interest in playing professionally again. I am truly grateful to have her as my coach to end my collegiate career.

Q: How have your first few games here gone? Do you feel like starting put you into a leadership role?

A: My first five games didn't go how I planned. I felt like I haven't contributed enough to my team and it hurt me, but I have picked it up the last game and I plan on staying consistent for the remainder of the season. I definitely feel like starting has put me in a leadership role because I believe my coach trusts me enough to lead by example and to start off the game strong.

Q: What did you expect for yourself this year with how much you would play and contribute?

A: Honestly, I expected to average a double-double and lead my team to the WCC championship. Now, I am letting the game come to me, and playing the best defense I can possibly play.

Q: Describe your game. What are your strengths? What are things you still want to work on?

A: I am very versatile. I can shoot and take my defender off the dribble. People may underestimate me because I play the post, but I can do a lot more than just make a post move to the basket. Some things I still want to work on are my counter moves and using my left hand more often.

Q: How do you compare your time at Delaware State, CSU Bakersfield and now Pepperdine?

A: Pepperdine is by far the best school I have been to as far as academics and athletic experience. I've never had a better coaching staff and the trainers are great. I love how Pepperdine is a Christian school and everyone seems to be moralistic and have their minds set on the right things. My past schools don't compare in that nature.

Q: How do you feel about the team?

A: I believe we can win the West Coast Conference. Although we are young, we are very talented and coachable. I think these aspects will take us very far in the season.

Q: What are your goals for this year for yourself and your team?

A: My goal for the team is to have a winning record and finish my collegiate career with a ring. I plan to keep being a leader and stay consistent on the court.

Q: Who are you most excited to play this year and why?

A: I am most excited to play Gonzaga because they won the conference last year. I was also being recruited by them coming out of high school.

Men's Basketball Q&A: Colbey Ross

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Colbey Ross is a freshman guard for the Pepperdine's men's basketball team. He's off to a great start, averaging 14.4 points and 5.5 assists. He explains how his adjustment to college has been, along with his hopes for himself and his team this year:

Colbey  Ross

Q: How have your first few months at Pepperdine been?

A: It has been great. My classes and teachers have been really good. I have been trying to adapt and learn my schedule and how to balance school and sports and how to be successful in both. Then, in basketball, it has been great being able to start and just being with my teammates has been the best thing for me.

Q: How has the start of the season gone?

A: Some of the games haven't gone as we planned. We have had some tough ones where we should have pulled out a win. We are learning every game but we still have to fix little things on defense if we want the results we know we are capable of. I feel like I am getting into more of a groove and have more leadership, which is helping my confidence on the court.

Q: What was it like to average 23 points during the home Legends Classic games? And how did both of those games go?

A: It was a fun experience getting to play at home for those games in front of our crowd. My teammates were helping me find plays to be successful and score. I was playing with more confidence and it started to show, I was making more shots and the flow of the game became more natural. We ended up winning one out of the two we played. They were both tough games.

Q: How did it feel to lead your team to a comeback win over Oral Roberts?

A: It felt good but everyone did their part and it was really a team effort. My shot was falling, which helped on the offensive end, but we all came together to get the win.

Q: What was it like playing in and starting at your first home game?

A: It was crazy having all the fans come out to support us. Putting on the jersey and playing D-I basketball was a dream I have always had and just to be able to go out and play has been really fun and cool.

Q: Do you think that summer workouts helped you fit in better with all the guys?

A: Definitely, having 16 other guys competing against each other and with each other and overall working hard together, I feel like that made it easier for everyone to get along and then push each other to become better.

Q: How has your adjustment to college been?

A: It has been good. You don't have anyone telling you to do your homework or having your mom telling you dinner is ready. You have to find a balance of when to do homework, when to eat and then when to get extra workouts in. I feel like it has been good and that I have found that balance and I think I am doing pretty well right now.

Q: What is the major difference between college and high school basketball and how are you adjusting?

A: It definitely is the speed and how everyone out there is so athletic. But I think I have a pretty high IQ for the game so I still understand the game and I feel like it lets me be a step ahead of my competition.

Q: How do you feel you contribute to the team?

A: Mainly by being a leader. I know I am a freshman but stepping into a leadership role and working hard for my teammates to make everyone better. Then doing what the coaches tell me and hopefully help us to get wins.

Q: What are your goals?

A: My goal is to win a West Coast Conference championship. That is a big goal for me. To get at least 20 wins in the season, I think, would be really big for our team. Then just to become a better player. I don't really care about stats or starting or not, I just want to become better and help my teammates win and to have the coaches be able to trust me.

Q: What is it like playing for Coach Wilson?

A: It has been great. He has trust in me but he definitely is on me and is going to continue to be on me to make sure I am reaching my full potential. I am going to work hard for him and do whatever he tells me to get better and learn to look at the game differently.

Q: What brought you to Pepperdine?

A: The coaches had a really big influence on me coming. The location of course, you definitely can't beat it. Then being in the conference we are in and being able to play Gonzaga, Saint Mary's and BYU, which are all great teams. Those are the teams I want to be playing to increase my level of play.

Women's Swimming Q&A: Amy Griffin

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Amy Griffin, a freshman freestyler on the women's swim team, has made a huge splash on the team during her first semester. She tells us about her accomplishments thus far and her hopes as she continues her swimming career here at Pepperdine:

Amy  Griffin

Q: How did you choose to come to Pepperdine?

A: I chose Pepperdine for a number of reasons, including the beautiful campus, close community, swim team and proximity to home, but mainly because of the Christian values in and out of the classroom.

Q: How has your first semester been going with balancing swimming and school?

A: My first semester has been difficult being a sports med major with hard science classes. It's hard to find enough time to study while still getting eight hours of sleep before practice every morning.

Q: What do hope to do with your degree some day?

A: I'm interested in going into either physical therapy or nursing.

Q: You were awarded the PCSC Division I Athlete of the Week award a few weeks ago. How did that feel?

A: I was really surprised to be awarded athlete of the week but it was really exciting and it felt really good to be recognized.

Q: You had an outstanding performance at the recent A3 Invitational. How did you prepare for your first big collegiate meet?

A: To prepare for A3, I tried to get enough sleep at night to stay healthy and to be ready to work hard at practice in the morning while still having the energy for afternoon practice. In addition, I try to eat well and eliminate junk food, only eating food that I knew would give me more energy in the pool.

Q: What is the team dynamic like?

A: With a team of 40 women it is hard for everyone to be close. However, I've found a good group of close friends on the team and have been trying to get to know everyone. I love encouraging and cheering for my teammates and if you radiate a positive attitude, other people will respond in a similar way.

Q: What are your goals for the rest of the swim season?

A: My goal for the rest of season is obviously to improve and drop time in my events. I also want to not focus too much on times because I think it is more important to have fun and learn life lessons than swim .1 seconds faster.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish, in swimming, in your four years at Pepperdine?

A: In the next four years of swimming at Pepperdine, I hope to be a leader through encouraging my team and supporting my girls. I want to be seen as a trustworthy and hardworking teammate. Most importantly I want to glorify God whether I have a good or bad race and radiate joy.

Men's Tennis Update: Scotland Garapedian

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Scotland Garapedian, a junior on the Pepperdine men's tennis team, provides this update after the conclusion of the Waves' fall schedule. He writes about an example of how the tennis program is preparing him for the real world:

Scotland  Garapedian

For the 2 1/2 years that I've been part of an elite Division I program, I often find myself asking the question, "How will I use the habits learned on the tennis team, and apply it to the real world, or better known as -- life after college?"

It was just about a month ago where we had a conditioning session that required each player to be ready to go by 8:30 a.m. That morning we had each player show up before 8:30 a.m. except for one ... He arrived at 8:30. Showing up on the time you are supposed to is considered late on our team.

Why? Let's take this scenario: Say you have a job interview one morning and you have to be there by 8:30 a.m. The other guy you are interviewing against arrives 10 minutes early, and you rush into the door at 8:30 a.m. Automatically, the odds are against you because you were not early and prepared. In the words of our strength and conditioning coach, Tubbs, "Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail."

Our team has learned a lot about a situation like this by the fact that we have done a lot better job of showing up not only on time, but arriving 10 minutes early to all of our workouts. Because of that, showing up on time now means showing up 10 minutes early. A simple habit like this is something we can use for our careers in the real world.

Now, I can go on and on about other habits I have learned on the tennis team that will help me in my career, but it is most important to realize that I have learned just as much about bettering myself as a human being, than I have learned about bettering my tennis game. Our coach preaches to us on a daily basis that the habits we create here on the team will correlate to how we will manage our lives out of college.

It is scary sometimes thinking about getting out of college and having to deal with the stresses that will come with a job and career. That is why our program prides itself not on how many wins we get in a season, but how many players will be successful years after they graduate. And by success, I don't mean money, I mean leading a happy and purposeful life.

I truly believe this can be achieved with the simple little habits we implement into our lives, such as showing up on time. But we can come to know that these habits need purpose. That purpose is different for each person on the team, but leads to the same direction ... and that is to better ourselves as human beings. The real world is something we as players on the team will be ready for.

Baseball Q&A: Kiko Garcia

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Senior pitcher Kiko Garcia of the Pepperdine baseball team tells us about the intrasquad Blue & Orange World Series that recently took place and what he hopes for moving forward with his baseball career:

Kiko  Garcia

Q: What's the atmosphere of the Blue and Orange World Series like?

A: This year, the team decided to make the Series very competitive so it is more game-like than a normal scrimmage. It ended up being pretty heated toward the end but we play better like that.

Q: What was it like being both a coach and a player at this year's series?

A: It made me be more engaged in the games because I had to constantly be mapping out our pitching throughout the game along with making sure I was ready to play. It also made winning the Series feel even better!

Q: How does it feel to be going into your final season of Pepperdine baseball?

A: It's definitely a weird feeling knowing that there's not going to be another season after this but it also makes me incredibly motivated to try and go out on a positive note.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in this upcoming season?

A: Obviously, the goal every year is to go to Omaha, for the NCAA Tournament, but it has to start with coming back out here in the spring and doing everything we can to put ourselves in a position to be successful.

Q: How have you improved as a player in your four years at Pepperdine?

A: I think the biggest difference is my mentality. The improvement I have noticed there has 100% translated into better performances on the field, which I have to thank Coach Garza for. He places a large importance on having a positive mentality when most coaches completely overlook that component. Baseball is such a mental game and a positive adjustment there can really take your game to the next level. 

Q: How has the team as a whole improved in your time at Pepperdine?

A: I think the team has gotten closer over the last few years. Each year, the upperclassmen increasingly push for the team to do things together on a consistent basis. This year's team is as close as I have ever seen a baseball team here and I am excited to see how that carries over into the season.

Q: If you could go back and tell your freshman-self one thing, what would it be?

A: I think it would be to know that I am here for a reason and to not hold anything back. I was very tentative my freshman year and that does not work when baseball revolves around conviction in what you are doing. Also, to seek more advice from the older guys on the team. The best source of advice would be the guys who went through the exact same thing you did.

Q: What do you hope to do after graduation?

A: Ideally, I would like to continue my baseball career for as long as I can. If that does not work out, I want to finish my MBA at the graduate school here and see where that takes me.

Corinne Quiggle, a senior on the Pepperdine beach volleyball team, has represented the United States in international competition several times and most recently in China. She took the silver medal at the Shenzhen International Festival. She tells us about this experience as well as her goals for this season and her future:

Corinne  Quiggle

Q: You recently played for Team USA at a tournament in China? Tell me about that experience.

A: I played with my old partner that went to Pepperdine last year (Brittany Howard). She is a graduate student now in Spain and it was so fun. It was such a cool experience to be in China and represent the U.S. It was really cool because of the people in China and the culture being so different. Some of the people that came to watch had never seen anything like this. They had never been to a beach volleyball tournament and for them, this was such a huge event. We were giving out some U.S. things, like mini-volleyballs, hats, pins and stickers and people started sobbing. It made the experience really worth it because it felt like we were doing something more.

Q: How was it playing for Team USA?

A: I have represented the U.S. in Cuba and the Dominican Republic, so I have played for Team USA before. It was such a cool experience to travel as a division to China because typically I have been traveling as an individual and not in a group. It was really fun to have another U.S. team there and an official coach and manager. There is nothing like it.

Q: Did you enjoy playing with your former teammate, Brittany Howard, again?

A: It was so fun playing with her. We had not played together in a while since she has been in Spain. It took us a day to get back in our rhythm, but after that it was so fun to be back together.

Q: How did you get selected to play in China?
A:
We played in a tournament after the National Championships, where the U.S. teams from the collegiate groups played each other. We got third in that tournament, and they took the second and third teams to China.

Q: Since it is your senior year, is there anything you want to accomplish before you graduate?

A: I want to win a national championship. We have been close every year. Last year we were two points away. This year, I obviously want to win that before I leave. That's definitely the biggest thing.

Q: What are your goals for this season?

A: Past this season, I want to play professionally, so this year I really want to focus on improving myself and taking advantage of all the resources that Pepperdine offers. Other than that my goals are to win and have a successful team by creating a great team culture and bond.

Q: What is your role on the team, on and off the court?

A: As a senior, I have had to step up into a bigger leadership role this year. I have been navigating that and trying to create a team culture based on my own actions and leading by example. I am trying to help the freshmen whenever they need it and lead us all on a path to success so we can reach our goals. I know that everyone on the team has the same goals and I think that is an amazing thing for a team to have. We are all trying to work to get all the pieces together to create the best team possible.

Q: What will you miss the most about playing for Pepperdine?

A: Probably the team culture. It is cool how it is set up that it is bigger than yourself. You can lose one of your games, but your team still wins. I think that is a really awesome part of playing for school and NCAA. I will really miss all the girls and the camaraderie that comes with playing with the team.

Q: What advice would you give to your freshman self?

A: I think first I would tell myself to work hard and focus more on school. I also would tell myself to take my time and really appreciate every part of school because it really went by fast for me. Now it is all coming to an end and I wish that I would have really been in each moment of my life rather than it all catching up now my senior year.

Men's Basketball Q&A: Jade' Smith

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Jade' Smith is a freshman on the Pepperdine men's basketball team. He tells us what he will bring to the team, how he feels about being at Pepperdine and what he thinks about his new team:

Jade'  Smith

Q: How have your first couple months on campus been?

A: My first couple of months of school have been really nice. I am really enjoying college. The Pepperdine community is very welcoming as well with the basketball team. I love the guys. The older guys have been helping me get through classes. They have been motivating me to stay on top of schoolwork, as well as finding time to get in the gym. 

Q: How are you and the whole freshman group fitting in?

A: Colbey, Trae, and I have been able to fit in very well with the team. The team has been very welcoming, which has made it easy for us to fit right in with what Coach Wilson has going.

Q: What are you expecting to get out of this season? What are you expecting of yourself this season and in the future?

A: I'm expecting this season to be a good season because we have the talent to be a great team. As an individual this season I'm expecting to help my team in any way possible whether that's with scoring, getting a stop, and or just bringing energy. For my future my number one goal is to play professional basketball.

Q: A lot of great guards have come from Oakland and your high school. Are you trying to be next in line or live up to those expectations?

A: Of course I want to be known as one of the great guards to come out of Oakland. I definitely feel like I can be next in line. I just have to grind because I know that every player in the league was not just given anything, they worked for it all.

Q: Is there any bond between you and Amadi since you are both from the same area?

A: Amadi is my guy! That's like family to me. He's been watching me play since I was in eighth grade. I'm close to his little brother, we played on the same AAU team. But having Amadi at Pepp, and being able to play alongside him, is a great opportunity for me, because I can learn from him.

Q: Describe your game. What are your strengths and what are you looking to improve?

A: I'm a high-energy guy that can run an offense. I can get stops on the defensive end and push the ball in transition. I can facilitate the ball well and get others involved. I'm looking to improve my jump shot. I want to become consistent.

Q: What upperclassmen on the team do you look up to?

A: I look up to all the upperclassman guys because they all have more experience than I do. They all know more than I do because they've played on this level longer than I have. I have nothing but respect and take in all advice from my upperclassmen. 

Q: Why did you choose Pepperdine?

A: I chose Pepperdine because I fell in love with the campus and of course the view! But the coaching staff is unbelievable. They're a group of genuine guys who want the best for you. I know I can sit down with any coach and talk about something personal outside of basketball. When I came on my visit the team was very welcoming to my family and myself and I just felt like this is best place for me for basketball and outside of basketball.

 

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