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Beach Volleyball Q&A: Brook Bauer

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Freshman beach volleyball player Brook Bauer tells us about moving across the country and her excitement about starting her first college season:

Brook  Bauer

Q: What helped you make the choice to move from Florida to California to play college beach volleyball?

A: I made the choice to come out here because, as much as I love Florida, I've always wanted to live in California. Pepperdine and its beach volleyball program were huge magnets in my decision to make the move across the country. 

Q: How has your experience competing at Zuma Beach been so far?

A: I love practicing at Zuma. We are so blessed to be the only team in the country to have the opportunity to practice at a true beach every single day. It also doesn't hurt that we get to whale watch for free too! Zuma has prepared us for just about every weather condition, from 100-degree days to quick incoming fog, rain, wind and cold temperatures. We are so grateful to be able to call it our home.

Q: What kind of team dynamic and chemistry does the beach volleyball team have?

A: The beach volleyball team's dynamic and chemistry is unlike anything I've ever been a part of. It's amazing how our intensity in training and practice can be so high, yet everyone on our team is such good friends and cares so genuinely for each other. The environment is cohesive and we all love to compete together as one unit.

Q: You played at the same high school as Nikki Lyons, Did you two know each other before coming to play here?

A: Yes, I've known Nikki for around five years and played in high school with her, so she has been one of my best friends for a while.

Q: Which upperclassman has had an impact on you so far and why?

A: Nikki has had a huge influence on my freshman year. The fact that she has had experience here at Pepperdine now for three years made my entering in a lot smoother, as she is always there for me when I have questions or dilemmas. I'm so lucky to have a mentor and close friend like her at the same school and on the same team as me.

Q: What are you looking forward to most in this season?

A: I am so excited for this season to start. I'm looking forward to finally being able to represent Pepperdine and compete as a team against other schools. I'm also looking forward to traveling and making more memories on and off the court with my teammates.

Q: What can we expect from the beach volleyball team this season?

A: You can be sure to expect a ton of energy and excitement for the game and an intensity level focused on bringing back a national championship for the Waves!

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?
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.

Women's Volleyball Q&A: Hana Lishman

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Sophomore libero Hana Lishman talks about how she got into volleyball as well as her experience going from an attacking to a defensive position:

Hana  Lishman

Q: What are your goals now and for the rest of your career?

A: For this season, I think we just want to finish strong and right now we're definitely going up. This has been a good learning season for us. We're definitely taking those lessons and trying to improve a lot. For the next two years, I would say, just to continue with this growth of just being better and improving and helping my teammates out. Just growing in the sport mentally and physically and just being the best I can for my team and with my team.

Q: How are you feeling about the new additions to the team this year?

A: We had four incoming freshmen and they have all been great additions to the team. They fit very well with us as a whole. Not as many new people because we were a really young team last year and this year we brought back everyone, which was great, because that strong bond was already there. We had a junior transfer named Blossom Sato come in along with other freshmen and even though they were new to the team, they fit really well and everything has been really smooth.

Q: You are from Hawai'i. What would you say has been different about the transition from Hawai'i to Malibu?

A: The nicest change has been the view. Where I live in Hawaii the beach is like 30 seconds from my house but this view is just amazing. Having the beach right there has been amazing because it's just like home. It's only one flight out to get home and my coach is from Hawai'I, which is great, because we have our own inside jokes and we talk about Hawai'i a lot, which is always nice. So the transition really wasn't too bad. The people here have been really nice and kind and I love how a lot of my teammates enjoy the fact that I'm Hawaiian. They're always asking me how to say different things in Hawaiian and I really love it. In my freshman year we went to Hawai'i for one of our tournaments and everyone really embraced the culture, enjoying the food and everything, so they all made the transition really easy.

Q: Your real first name is Dallas. Why do you more commonly go by Hana?

A: Well, Hana actually comes from my middle name, Kamehanaokala, which means warmth of the sun in Hawaiian. My parents named me Dallas because my dad is a huge fan of the Dallas Cowboys even though we have no connection to Dallas, Texas, whatsoever. My dad always wanted to name one of his sons Dallas. Before I was born, my parents thought I was going to be a boy and when they found out that I was a girl, my mom said she didn't want more kids so they just named me Dallas. Growing up, I've gotten used to being called Hana because nobody really called me Dallas. Sometimes people do call me Dallas and I just take a little more time to respond because I'm not used to it, but as I've gotten older I've started liking it a lot more. As for why I'm called Hana, like I mentioned, it comes from my middle name, which was really hard to pronounce so we just cut it short to Hana.

Q: You were an outside hitter in high school and now you're a libero. How have you handled the change of going from an attacking position to a defensive position?

A: In Hawai'i I'm actually considered tall, which is funny, because I don't really think I'm that tall. I've always been in an outside position for club volleyball and high school and with it comes a lot of passing like defense and serve receive so I had a lot of training with those libero skills. So the transition wasn't hard because I already had a lot of it under my belt. But the transition did put me out of my comfort zone in terms of talking on the court. I was always a silent player but in this position I have to talk a lot. I knew I needed to, but it was just hard stepping out of my shell. I still wouldn't say it's easy, but my coaches and teammates were super encouraging and they really helped push that door open so it's been great.

Q: How did you get into volleyball?

A: I started volleyball when I was 6 or 7 years old. My parents were always really into sports and they wanted me and my siblings to get into sports at a young age. They signed us up for a lot of different sports and I tried a few but I only stuck with volleyball and soccer. At one point, I actually quit volleyball and just played soccer for a bit until I started to miss playing volleyball and so I went back to playing both. After a point my parents wanted me to stick with just one because they wanted me to focus on my school and so I picked volleyball. My parents were my coaches for a while and then I moved onto club. I started off playing with my family friends so it was nice growing with people I knew and was comfortable with so we could all help each other out, learning more about the game, developing my skills and positions and things like that. It's taught me so many values, which don't just help me on the court, but off the court as well and just generally it's really helped me grow as a person.

Q: How has your transition from freshman to sophomore been?

A: Honestly, I do feel a lot more mature and confident on the court. Being a freshman on the court, there's a lot of pressure and stress and so my coaches and teammates really helped me feel confident about myself and trust myself when I'm out there. As I said before, I used to be a shy player but they really helped me crack that shell and that's why I've felt so much better this year. When I came back, I knew what I needed to do and I knew how to do it. Also after having gone through it all, I've wanted to help the freshmen coming in and give them tips and advice on how to grow. I want to be able to help them the way my teammates helped me because I understand how stressful it can be. I'd say more than my skills, my mentality switched and definitely in a good way.

Blossom Sato transferred to Pepperdine this year to play on the women's volleyball team. The Waves' setter shares what her transition to Pepperdine has been like and what she hopes to do on and off the court:
Blossom  Sato

Q: How has your transition from Mississippi State to Pepperdine been?

A: It has been super awesome. I actually grew up here, so I am super excited to be back and to be a student here. I've known our coach, Scott (Wong), for a really long time through family. Scott and all the other coaches have been really supportive and the girls have been great too.

Q: What is the major difference between Starkville and Malibu?

A: Other than the view, I would say the size of the school and the environment. Starkville is super focused on football, basketball and baseball. At Pepperdine, academics are the focus, but the school still supports the athletes. It is a really good balance.

Q: What made you decided to come back to Southern California?

A: Things were not working out in Mississippi with volleyball and I was really homesick and unhappy. I contacted coaches throughout Southern California and Pepperdine wanted me to play for them, and I was excited to play for Pepperdine.

Q: Were you expecting to come in and play right away?

A: I was not expecting anything at all. I knew that they had two setters already. I had seen them play and knew that they were good. I was just excited to be competing again and getting better for myself and to help the team as much as I could.

Q: What are your goals at Pepperdine?

A: I really want to help the team win conference. I know there's a lot of competition, so it would be super huge if we could win conference and make it to the NCAA Tournament. That would be such a great year. I only have two years left, so I am trying to help make that happen.

Q: What do you think your role is on the team? Or what do you hope it will be?

A: Being new was hard because I had to try and learn how my teammates acted and their personalities. I want to be a leader and I want to be a person who anyone can depend on both on and off the court with any problems they may have. I think that is going pretty well so far. We have a lot of leaders on the team, so everyone feels comfortable going to everyone. It is really awesome because I have never been on a team like that before.

Q: Volleyball seems to run in your family. How has your mom and uncles' successful careers influenced you?

A: All I did growing up was be around volleyball. I did not start playing competitively until ninth grade. I have two older cousins who also play, so we were always close and grew up playing volleyball together. Everybody always thought that we had to play volleyball because our family played, but we really didn't. We just enjoyed it so much that we wanted to play. I got to play against my cousin this past preseason, and it was really fun because I had never played against her before.

Q: Do you have any bucket list items to do while you are in Malibu?

A: I want to go on more hikes. I don't get to go on them very often, but I really want to hike more. I know there is a swing along the coast under one of the houses, so I want to find those.

Women's Volleyball Q&A: Adria Johnson

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Senior outside hitter Adria Johnson of the women's indoor volleyball team tells us how faith, relationships and volleyball have guided her college career thus far and her plans for the future:

Adria  Johnson

Q: How did you get into volleyball?

A: My best friend in middle school invited me to tryouts and I made it. From there, I started playing club volleyball and I've been playing ever since.

Q: What lead you to make the decision to finish high school early and come to Pepperdine?

A: I lived in the same town, same house and went to the same school, same church my entire life so I was ready for a change. I've also always done things differently. It wasn't planned but I had the opportunity and it just made sense. Since volleyball is a fall start it was really nice because I could settle in during the spring semester before starting volleyball in the fall.

Q: It seems as if everyone on campus knows you. How important is it to build relationships with your peers?

A: I've had this evolving list of core values and building relationships has remained number one. I love people so much. People are really important to me because I get my energy from being around fun people.

Q: How has Pepperdine influenced the fostering of these relationships? For example, are you involved in clubs, or other extracurricular activities aside from volleyball?

A: I go to UM, the ministry, which is the only thing that I've done consistently. I think the atmosphere at Pepperdine has really influenced the development of my community. Being such a small school, I get to see all of the same people every day, which is cool because then those relationships can grow. Also, the faith-based community really helps because I believe that it unifies people and brings them together.

Q: You are choosing to graduate early from Pepperdine as well. How did you make that decision?

A: It's been a really long process but I'm at peace with my decision. The struggle is that I love my team so much but I think that I am ready I believe that the Lord is pushing me in a direction that is really intentional and although I don't know that that is yet, I'm choosing to trust in Him.

Q: How are you feeling about your final season as a Wave?

A: So good! We've had a great start and have been playing really hard. This year we have a smaller group of girls but we are all really committed and looking toward the same goals. A lot of our success is based in our strong relationships with one another, which I think gives us the upper hand over other teams. The girls are the best and I love spending every day with them. I'm also looking forward to hopefully bringing home a conference win with them this year.

Q: What are your plans post-graduation?

A: I want to do The World Race, which is a ministry opportunity where you go to different countries over the course of a year, and do service as well as teach them about the Lord. After that, I'm excited to see the different ways I can use my advertising degree and what facets will be most valuable to me. I'm not completely sure what lies ahead but I'm excited to find out.

Women's Volleyball Update: Hannah Frohling

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Sophomore outside hitter Hannah Frohling writes in with this update after the team's first couple of home matches, and ahead of this weekend's Asics Classic where the Waves will play three home matches on Friday and Saturday:

Hannah  Frohling

This past weekend, we finally got to compete in our home gym in front of our fans and it was so incredible.  We have been training hard in Firestone Fieldhouse since January in preparation for this season, but it always feels so good when we get to put the jerseys on and play for our school.

At the end of last season, we knew we had a special group going into the off season and the addition of our freshmen and a transfer, who have flawlessly integrated into Pepperdine volleyball, has really accelerated our growth. We've been here at Pepperdine training since July, putting in work in the weight room, getting touches on the ball in the gym and spending time together as a team and growing closer to one another. I can't say enough how special this group of 16 is and how much fun it is to come to practice every day and battle it out. With all that being said, we were so ready to compete at our first home game.

Our first home match was against Northeastern and with the fans behind us, we pulled out a 3-1 win. The whole team was on the same page and the game felt smooth, just like we've been practicing. It's awesome to play with people who you've been training so hard with and get the results that you've been working towards. We had a quick turnaround and played CSUN the next day at their gym. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get the win there, but the next day we were able to redeem ourselves against Weber State with a 3-0 win. 

Being a sophomore, I knew what to expect a game day to feel like, but there was something so unique about getting to step back on the court after so many months without a match. We were all able to walk in with such confidence that the work we had been putting in would show in how we played, and it did. The chemistry of our team now is so amazing.  Each girl is contributing to our team on and off the court and pushing everyone else to be better volleyball players, and better people. I am so stoked on this group and truly believe that we are going to do great things.

Another thing that is so neat on our team is that we call ourselves a family.  We are the Pepperdine volleyball family, which means we are always there for each other to build one another up, and also that we can be accountable for others and make sure each person is fulfilling their potential.  We don't back down from fighting for our family, and we are sure to encourage, listen and support each other when it is needed.

Overall, we have had such an awesome first weekend at home that was filled with some gnarly plays, lots of learning moments, going beyond limits and growth together. I am so ready to keep fighting with my team this week, and all the coming weeks. We are mighty, and we are Pepperdine volleyball.

Women's Volleyball Q&A: Heidi Dyer

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Indoor and beach volleyball student-athlete Heidi Dyer has had a busy summer with not only volleyball training but also recently going on a mission trip to Tanzania. She shares with us her goals for the upcoming season and her experience on her mission trip:

Heidi  Dyer

Q: Besides keeping busy with volleyball, I know you just got back from a mission trip to Tanzania. Can you share with me what that was like?

A: Going to Tanzania was so incredible and eye-opening. I've been to Kenya before and I really wanted to go back to Africa this year. On New Year's Day I asked God to somehow send me to Africa this year, even though I only had a couple weeks throughout the entire year that I wasn't required to be at school playing volleyball. Sure enough, God provided me with a trip through my youth group, University Ministries at Malibu Presbyterian, at the exact perfect time. The second the trip was proposed I knew I was supposed to go on it. I didn't have enough money or enough time to really prepare for the trip, but I trusted that God would provide and He did. We went to an orphanage called Light in Africa, which is run by Mama Lynn. Meeting her felt like how I would imagine meeting Mother Teresa would feel like. She's amazing. Read her book, it's called Light in Africa!

Q: What kind of things did you do there?

A: When I was there, I mostly got to just love on little kids. At first, I didn't realize how incredibly impactful and important that would be, but I was blown away by how content they were just to hold your hand. They are so love deprived that it breaks my heart. They don't have parents taking care of them, let alone loving them and giving them the special attention they deserve. They are well taken care of and it's in a loving way, but they hardly ever get special attention. My heart was SO full just being able to give them that love. I never had a time without a child in my arms or five kids holding on to separate fingers. My team also went to a Masai village and it opened my eyes to one of the most poverty-stricken people groups. I washed parasites out of kids' hair for an entire day and didn't even get through half of the kids that needed it. The problems in that community are endless. 

Q: What did you learn from this opportunity?

A: I learned so much on this trip and my eyes were opened so wide to the insane needs of these people. The biggest thing I got out of it was a bigger spiritual heart to love God's people. I loved so much it hurt sometimes, but I figure that's the best way to love. That was the most rewarding part. 

Q: Would you encourage other students to go on a similar mission trip, and why?

A: I would 110% encourage anyone who has an opportunity to go serve in a third world country to do it! These kinds of trips are something that teach you more about yourself than you could ever learn at home. It opens your eyes and it changes you and challenges you in incredible ways. 

Q: Who or what inspires you to go on mission trips?

A: Going on mission trips is something that God calls you to do. He'll either put the desire in your heart to find a way to go, or He'll tell you to go and then present you with an opportunity. So God is definitely the one who inspires me to go on missions trips. But I'm telling you, once you do, you won't want to stop. It's an amazing feeling to be living for something other than yourself. 

Q: With one more month of summer, can you tell us what you have been doing on the court during this off season?

A: This summer our team went to Europe, which was the coolest trip ever! But along with that, we played six matches against some good competition and that really helped us bond as a team. I also beat up on my 14-year-old brother's indoor team in June because their coach needed more players. I'm kidding, they totally hit the ball as hard as college girls ... it's scary. This July our team has reconvened on campus and has been getting lots of reps in during the open gyms, which has been a lot of fun. 

Q: How is the training in the summer different than in season?

A: Summer training is different because there isn't the pressure of having to compete as flawlessly as possible. It's all about the imperfections and striving to perfect them. Although, of course we know perfection isn't impossible but it's definitely a good goal to shoot for. 

Q: What are you most excited about for your junior year?

A: I am most excited to compete for a WCC championship title. Our team is sold out for achieving it. It feels different this year. A very good different. 

Q: Do you have personal goals that you hope to achieve for this upcoming season?

A: My personal goal is just to help the team in any way possible. I might be playing a couple different positions so my goal is to just be ready for whatever the team needs. Obviously I would like to beat my personal stats from previous years but my biggest goal is the team's end result.

Beach Volleyball Q&A: Madalyn Roh

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After helping the Pepperdine women's beach volleyball team attain a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships, rising junior Madalyn Roh is ready to take on her third year as a Wave. But first, she shares with us her plans for the summer. She also reflects on the past year as well as the year ahead:
Madalyn  Roh

Q: What is your transition like from being in-season to the offseason?

A: Very weird, the change of pace can be frustrating and relaxing at the same time. It is very strange going from training four hours day after day, traveling and competing, to just nothing after such an intense season.

Q: How do you spend your time off?

A: Training mostly on my own and focusing on the little things I can do by myself or with other players around me since coaches cannot coach us over summer.

Q: What is your schedule/plans like for the summer both on and off the court?

A: Most players compete over the weekends in semi-pro type tournaments. We use these competitions to keep our competitive edge and test the waters with new scenarios against people and pairs we don't usually see during the season.

Q: How is training in the summer different than in season?

A: Very laid-back. There isn't an obligation to do anything since our preseason is so long, but we can't help ourselves but continue staying in shape and mostly getting better or recovering from such an intense season.

Q: What kind of things does Coach Nina Matthies want you to work on in the summer?

A: Our coach is great because she understands balance. Yes, I'm sure she has a list of things for all of us to work on, but she understands the intensity and length of our preseason once school starts. Summer is for rest, rejuvenation and keeping your sand legs.

Q: What do you think you learned the most from your sophomore year that you'll take with you as you move forward?

A: I have learned more about the analytical and technical side of the game this year. My partner last year was very seasoned and wise when it came to strategy, so I learned a lot from her, but now I am a more seasoned player so I want to take that strategy sense into next year. Beach volleyball is like a chess match, you must go in with a plan but adjust to your opponent's moves.

Q: What are you goals going into your junior year?

A: Finish what we started last year: win a national championship.

Q: What have you changed about your training routine for this year to make sure that you are continually getting better?

A: Form. Form in how I swing, approach to the ball, serve, etc. Matt Young, our strength and conditioning coach, is very diligent when it comes to form. Last year we really focused on technique and it really carried over into our playing.

Q: What inspires you to play volleyball?

A: My team and our goals. The culture we establish from the very beginning forces us to train and compete for a higher purpose and cause. We aren't just doing these things for ourselves. We are doing it for each other, which draws us closer as we aim to reach that one goal.

Q: Tell us what motto you live your life by?

A: Don't waste your suffering: It's a saying by John Piper, a notable preacher. I link it to the Bible verse Romans 5:3-4: "Not only so, be we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Basically, no matter what you go through, make it count, whether it's bad or good, easy or awful, it's going to build you as a person.

Q: I want to find out what your typical day looks like and how you keep yourself in such good shape ... It's morning, you've just woken up. What's next?

A: On an average day of training -- during the season -- I would take my vitamins and drink a glass of water straight when I wake up and start to get some water brewing for tea. Then, after I brush my hair, put on clothes, and wash my face, it's time to grub. Usually I would have quinoa, sweet potato hash, and some green veggies, sometimes with an egg. On conditioning days, I replace the quinoa with a thin strip of ribeye. After brushing my teeth I'm off to school then I come back for lunch which is some form of meat and veggies at least two hours before practice and then another snack 30 minutes pre-practice.

Q: What's your favorite way to fuel your body first thing in the morning?

A: Ribeye.

Q: How important is breakfast to you?

A: Extremely, if I don't eat breakfast it throws off my whole body and I also don't get the sufficient amount of fuel I need to train.

Q: Do you snack during the day?

A: Oh yes. My snack range from almonds, dates, almond butter with celery and carrots, protein bar, sauerkraut, kimchi, fruit and dark chocolate.

Q: Can you talk to us about food supplements? What do you use? What do you think works well?

A: I love vitamin C, D, A, fish oils, and L-Glutamine. If I'm sick I take oregano, which kills the virus very quickly and the bad bacteria in my system. The basic vitamins I think are great immune boosters, especially for athletes, because we put a lot of pressure on our immune system with practices and stress.

Q: What are huge dietary no-no's?

A: I'm paleo, so I don't eat wheat, dairy or refined sugar. But paleo isn't for everybody. For me, a dietary no-no is eating sugary candies. Sugar is just straight up bad for the nervous system. So I like to stay away from stuff like Sour Patch Kids.

Q: Do you have another hobby that is part of your daily routine?

A: Cooking, I love to cook my own food but also experiment with flavors and ingredients.

Brittany Howard, a graduate transfer student, is a standout in her first season for the Pepperdine women's beach volleyball team. She shares with us what her journey was like coming from Stanford to Pepperdine and her experience here so far:
Brittany  Howard

Q: You were an indoor player at Stanford prior to coming to Pepperdine and played on Stanford's beach squad as well. What is the biggest difference you've noticed in adjusting to the beach?

A: I think the biggest difference is the ball control that is necessary. In beach, you have to touch the ball at least one or two times every play, so your skill set is much less specific compared to indoor. The transition for me has been easier because I was a six rotation outside, so I had to pass and hit a lot in that role. The biggest skill I have had to work on is my setting and placement for Corinne, my partner.

Q: Why did you choose Pepperdine for graduate school?

A: I wanted to come to Pepperdine because I have always wanted to live in Southern California. For me, when I had the opportunity to play for Nina and Marcio, I didn't think there could be a better fit or a better group of girls I could play with. I thought that it just made sense that I would come here and play.

Q: What is the team chemistry at Pepperdine like?

A: The team chemistry is so awesome. The girls were extremely welcoming to me and the other new players. Everyone gets along so well and we are a really awesome team of 19 girls. I love them all. We work hard together every day, we push each other and we are all very competitive, but we all really love each other and support each other.

Q: What are the biggest differences between Palo Alto and Malibu?

A: The most obvious difference is that Malibu is right on the water. In general, Palo Alto has more places to go eat and other things around. Whereas in Malibu, you have a few places you go and eat. Palo Alto is also very tech oriented and you always had people walking around the university in suits, which is very different than Malibu. However, I love them both equally, and have really enjoyed being in both places.

Q: Tell me about your connections with your coaches here.

A: I adore Nina, Marcio and Gustavo. When I was first deciding where I would play beach volleyball, I sent out a few emails and heard back quickly from Nina. I talked with Nina on the phone and pretty much committed. I fell in love with her and thought she was really honest and funny. Nina has just been great. She is just like our mother. She loves us so much, but she really does push us and want the best for us. Marcio has been awesome. He is one the best coaches, if not the best coach, in the world. Having such a great coach has helped all of us as we are developing. He is really funny as well. He is very intense, and I definitely learn a lot from him each day. Gustavo is just incredible. He matches Nina and Marcio's intensity. The three of them work together so well and they make a really fun environment for us to practice in every day.

Q: Is there something or someone that inspires you to compete?

A: My mom and I played volleyball together ever since I was really little. It started with us playing with a balloon in my house. She played in college and went to the Final Four three times. She played on the National Team and professionally, so she's always inspired me because she competed at the highest level there ever could have been. She is such a competitor and such a loving and kind person. Growing up, she has been extremely supportive and wants the best for me and is proud of me. I love competing and knowing that she is watching every game.

Q: How was your first competition as a Wave?

A: It was so incredible. I remember the morning of I had my alarm set for 7:00, and I woke up at 5:30 ready to go. I was completely ready by 6:15. If you know my roommate and I, we are not morning people, but we were both just so excited to compete. Going through the day I was extremely nervous because I realized that I had not competed in such a long time. We played against UCLA, who was ranked #3 at the time and we were ranked #4. It was the first time Corinne and I had played together. It was a really intense match against a really good UCLA team and we won in two. It was really exciting to get that done for our team. It was an incredible first match experience and it set the tone for how Corinne and I wanted to compete the rest of the year.

Q: You also cracked the #NCAATop10 video a few weeks ago at #7 with Corinne. How was it being seen on a national level and being the first beach team to get props on the inaugural top 10 list?

A: Oh wow! I didn't know that! I am so honored and humbled. That's really, really cool. I give a lot of that to Corinne. She is like my rock when we are out there. She is so confident and steady. There are balls that I cannot even imagine getting and she just gets them all the time. I think Corinne and I work really well together and work really hard. It is awesome that other people have noticed how well we work together.

Q: Who or what has impacted you the most here at Pepperdine?

A: My teammates. They have just been so awesome and so welcoming. I moved here and I didn't know a single person at Pepperdine. My roommate and I are both fifth years and we get along so great. The team was welcoming to us and everyone loves each other so much. I want the season to be longer because it feels like it is going by so quickly, but we are definitely going to make it count.

Three Pepperdine women's volleyball players, Tarah Wylie, Hana Lishman and Jasmine Gross, were recently invited to try out for the U.S. Women's National Team in Colorado Springs. They shared with us their experience at the tryouts and updated us on what the team is doing in the coming months:

Jasmine  Gross  Hana  Lishman  Tarah  Wylie

Q: You all were recently received invite to try out for the U.S. Women's National Team. How did you all feel to be invited?

Wylie: It was amazing to know that Pepperdine would help us grow in our sport through this opportunity.

Lishman:  The most exciting part of getting the invitation was hearing and knowing that Pepperdine was there to support us with this awesome experience. Pepperdine gave us and allowed us to have this opportunity to continue our career and grow in our sport. 

Gross: I felt excited and grateful that Pepperdine was able to give me the opportunity to go after my goals and they were supportive in that.

Q: Describe the experience from day one through the tryout.

Wylie: We had four tryout sessions throughout three days. One on the first day, two on the second, and one on the third. It was mostly competition-based except for the first 30 minutes of every session where we got to warm up by positions. One of the coolest parts of this experience was having the opportunity to talk to other players from the West Coast Conference. I have friends on some of the teams we play against, but not many, and it was really special to form relationships with people I normally only see across the net.

Lishman: There were different sessions throughout the day. I was in the 6 o'clock session, while Tarah and Jasmine were in the 4 o'clock. While waiting, I walked around the training center, explored and met new girls from many different schools. On that first day of the tryout, we did some quick warm-up drills for passing, serving and hitting. Then the last hour or so of the session was playing games and wash drills. Throughout the entire tryouts, each session was about the same. Another cool thing about this tryout was meeting new people from other schools that we wouldn't normally come across.  Also, becoming good friends with the girls on teams that are in our conference was really fun. Normally, because we play against each other, we would be "rivals," but at the tryouts, that was set aside and it was very cool getting to know them and become good friends.

Gross: We got off the plane and went straight to the training camp, where we got room assignments and meal cards. One of my roommates played for BYU and the other one played for Michigan. Then we went to our first session where they separated each player by position using different colored shirts. Then we got into playing for about two hours. Then we went to dinner, took showers and got ready for the next day of tryouts. We did some skills like serving, passing and some hitting lines. Then we just competed by doing different scrimmage games. I had played against and with many of the girls throughout my club career. I played in the Under Armour All American game my senior year, so most of the girls who played in that match with me were at the tryout as well. The volleyball world is very small so all three of us knew many people.

Q: How did it make you feel to try out for a spot to compete on the national team, or on one of the three collegiate teams?

Lishman: While traveling there, the nerves were building up because I was very excited and anxious for the weekend.  I had no idea what to expect.  As each session went on, the nerves went away and the motivation and passion as to why I love and play this sport came pouring out.  Realizing I was there at the Olympic Training Center, trying out for the National Team was overwhelming, but a dream come true. 

Gross: It was a great experience, but it really humbled me by showing me how much work I still have left to do to reach my goal of being on the national team.

Q: Give us a final thought on your experience in Colorado Springs.

Wylie: It was our first experience with USA Volleyball and I know we were all excited to play and be noticed. It was a great opportunity for all of us and I am grateful that we get to grow our careers together.

Lishman: Being given the chance to represent my school, where I'm from, my coaches, and even my family was a great experience and opportunity.

Gross:  It was a great experience and I am hoping to try out again in the next few years

Q: You lost one of your assistant coaches a few weeks ago. Do you have any words of encouragement for Alex Dunphy, who has joined Minnesota's program?

Wylie: Alex Dunphy was one of the biggest reasons I came to Pepperdine and I have the upmost respect for her. She is a wonderfully talented coach and an even better person, so I know she will do nothing but be a star at Minnesota. They will soon figure out, if they haven't already, what an incredible asset she is for any program.

Lishman: Alex Dunphy was and still is an awesome coach. She knew how and when to be fun, but also knew how to be serious and get work done. She definitely made my freshman year experience memorable and manageable because she was constantly there to help me with not only volleyball, but school and life as well. I know she will do great things at Minnesota just as she did here at Pepperdine. I appreciate all she has done for my team and I, and I am very excited to see her accomplish new things!

Gross: I have already told Alex this, but we all miss her a lot. We know she has a great opportunity in Minnesota and we are all very excited to see her do big things.

Q: Now, how did you react learning that a Pepperdine Hall of Famer and former All-American, Julie (Rubenstein) Bennett, would be joining the coaching staff?

Wylie: When I first learned about Julie Bennett coming back to Pepperdine to coach us, I was excited to learn from a great player and Hall of Famer. Now I consider her a friend and she fits in with our team so well. I am looking forward to our time together!

Lishman: When I heard we had a new assistant, I, alongside my teammates, were thrilled. When we found out who it was, we were even more stoked because some, if not most, of us knew Julie and knew she was a great player here at Pepperdine.  With the time that I have had with her so far, she has already helped me in many ways with volleyball, and I am looking forward to more practices and seasons with her. 

Gross:  We are still in the process of getting to know Julie, and she has been so awesome. She brings new and helpful feedback as well as a great personality, so we are super stoked to have her.

Q: What are you doing in the off-season?

Wylie: The off-season is a busy time of the year for our team right now as we are currently in 20 hours. We are working hard every day to improve our team physically and mentally. It's an honor to be growing closer with my teammates every day and seeing them grow as people and players.

Lishman: Off-season is our big training season. We have practice at 6:30 a.m. every morning, then lifting or conditioning following that.  I really like spring training because it is a chance for our team to get strong, practice hard, improve and do whatever we can to prepare for our upcoming season, especially summer. 

Gross: Right now we are practicing every day from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we have lifting. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have conditioning. We have a few spring matches as well. We played CSUN at Pepperdine a few weekends ago and we play at USC for a spring tournament on April 1st.

Q: The summer is coming up soon! Do you have any big plans?

Wylie: This summer our team is going on a European Tour and I could not be any more excited. This will be a summer for the books. I get to play volleyball while traveling the world with my best friends and I am looking forward to seeing how our team matches up to the international teams we will compete against.

Lishman: This summer, our team will be traveling to Europe to play some professional teams.  We leave May 22, and are going to many different cities and countries such as Milan, Venice, Czech Republic, Austria and Slovenia. We are all very excited for this trip because many of us haven't been out of the country yet and this is a great time for our team to come together and go through this life-changing experience that some of us may never have the chance to do again.

Gross: We are going to Europe as a team to play at the end of May. This is very exciting for us and we are really looking forward to not only expanding our view on the world, but expanding our volleyball skills as well.

Delaney Knudsen, a senior on the women's beach volleyball team, has a great track record. She was part of the 2014 AVCA national championship team, helped lead the team to win the inaugural 2016 West Coast Conference Tournament crown and is a three-time Pepperdine Scholar-Athlete. With the season now here, Delaney talks about what she's looking forward to and how her four years on the team has been:

Delaney  Knudsen

Q: Since you're so close to the start of the season what are you looking forward to most?

A: I am really looking forward to competition. There is a special feeling when you get to actually compete and represent your school that is impossible to recreate in practice and I can't wait for it.

Q: How does it feel to be heading into your senior year as a Wave?

A: It's a very unique feeling to be in my senior year. I feel like just yesterday I was a freshman because the time has flown, but at the same time I know that I have grown and learned so much over the past four years that have made me a very different person!

Q: What are you looking forward to and most excited about as you head into your senior year on the team?

A: I am definitely most excited about the team we have this season. We have a lot of new girls and the dynamic on our team is just amazing this year. It's been awesome grinding with them all of fall and preseason, and I'm excited to take on all the challenges and victories of this season with all of them.

Q: How is the team playing so far?

A: I'm stoked at how everyone is playing this year! The level of hard work and competitive drive has been so high and we've all seen a lot of improvement. It's been a very motivating and rewarding year as far as training goes and I can't wait to see how that translates when the season comes.

Q: Was there a lot of playing in the off-season to prepare for the upcoming season?

A: We have done a lot of competing this off-season to keep us prepared for the season, notably more than in previous years, and it has been so great. We compete in a variety of different formats, but it keeps everyone fired up and working hard and it's been a major contributor to the motivation I feel on our team.

Q: You have lots of new faces on the team this year -- how are they fitting in?

A: I honestly could not have asked for a better group of newcomers this year. Both our freshmen and the transfers we got have fit in perfectly with our team. They each added their own unique sense of humor or fire to the mix and have only improved the team dynamic and culture.

Q: How are they changing the overall team dynamic? What's it been like?

A: I think that the addition of some new fifth-year transfers has been awesome because they bring the high standards that they have learned over their careers at other colleges that keep us accountable, but they also have this attitude of humble hard work, being new to our program, that is an amazing example to the rest of us too. Our freshmen are new to the standards and challenges of being a student-athlete, but they have all embraced it with 100% commitment and it has been so awesome and inspiring to see their improvement over the past few months. 

Q: What is it like to have Zuma Beach as a home court? How is it different and what do you like about it?

A: I love Zuma Beach! I could not ask for a better home court. It's absolutely gorgeous every single day, and with a 2-6 p.m. practice block we are usually cleaning up the courts as the sun sets and it's just beautiful. Weather is a huge factor playing on the beach as opposed to the man-made courts that other schools have. It's a huge advantage to be able to train in all the elements when they come, and to still have a handful of perfect days too.

Q: What's your favorite memory with the team?

A: I think my favorite memory with this team so far was bonding over our fall conditioning tests. The format of our workout was such that everyone had to be giving their maximum effort, and it was done in two waves so there was always someone cheering you on. It was really cool to have the opportunity to push my teammates to reach their goals and to also feel their support while I was working my hardest to reach mine. It set a high standard of mutual support and effort for the rest of the off-season that has been met over and over again.

Q: What's your favorite memory of playing so far?

A: My favorite memory playing so far has to be winning a national championship my freshman year. Nothing compares to that feeling and I'm going to do everything I can to help my team earn that again this year.

Women's Volleyball Update: Gaby Palmeri

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Heading into her final match as a Wave tonight, senior outside hitter Gaby Palmeri writes about all that she has gained by being a student-athlete on the Pepperdine women's volleyball team as well as a member of the University community:

Gaby  Palmeri

I have had a very unique college athletic experience. In my four years at Pepperdine, I have had three head coaches, and my class that started out with seven girls, is graduating three. Though throughout all the change that the indoor women's volleyball program has undergone while I have been a part of it, what has remained constant is the team's resilience. Regardless of external circumstances, we arrived at the gym, in the weight room, prepared to work and to improve. This is the environment I have loved being a part of the past four years.

This 'show up and do work' mindset that I first learned in athletics has allowed me to tackle challenges and take on more responsibilities in the classroom at Pepperdine and beyond. In addition to athletics during my time at Pepperdine, I have pursued two degrees, a B.A. in biology and political science, been a mentor at sophomore dorm and conducted original research in my area of interest, plant physiology and conversation. This year, I have been finishing my degrees, working as the student coordinator at Pepperdine's Center for Sustainability and Governmental Regulatory Affairs, and serving as president of the Green Team on campus.

The ability to manage stress and self, and other skills as these, will continue to serve me after Pepperdine. I am incredibly thankful that Pepperdine Athletics fosters the development of the entire person. I know the college experience I have had, along with the opportunities that I have been presented, are unique to Pepperdine.

As I look ahead to my final match at Firestone Fieldhouse, I am grateful that I am playing my last game of collegiate volleyball with and surrounded by people who truly care about me. I am overwhelmed by the support I have received from family, friends, coworkers, professors, current and former employers, athletics staff, classmates, coaches and teammates. This is ultimately what I will remember from my athletic experience, the fellowship that being a part of the Waves family has provided.

It's not easy to adjust to a brand-new school and team as an incoming freshman -- let alone to do those things successfully enough to break a school record within your first three months. Despite these odds, freshman women's volleyball player Jasmine Gross set the all-time Pepperdine record for most blocks in a single match, leading to her first career West Coast Conference Player of the Week nod. Gross has provided us with some insights into her time at Pepperdine, and how she perceives her role and accomplishments on the team:

Jasmine  Gross

Q: What was the transition like for you, coming to play at Pepperdine versus playing in high school?

A: It has been a big jump playing in high school to playing in college. The girls in college are much stronger and more developed than they were in high school. The level of play is faster which took time to get used to.

Q: How do you accomplish the lifestyle balance required to be a student-athlete at Pepperdine?

A: I have a lot of support when keeping up with my academics. I meet with my academic advisor once a week to make sure everything is under control. Traveling for volleyball and keeping up with school is difficult, but is manageable with the support system I have around me.

Q: What were you thinking as your number of blocks against Pacific kept going up?

A: To be honest, I didn't know how many blocks I had throughout that match. I knew that my teammates were making some great plays setting up the block for me and my job was to get there.

Q: Did you know you were close to breaking a school record?

A: To be honest I had no idea I was going to break a school record and I didn't actually know there was a school record to break.

Q: How did it feel to earn Pepperdine's first WCC's Player of the Week honor of the season?

A: I feel very humbled to be able to represent the school I love and my teammates who work so hard.

Q: How is it to have such a big role as a freshman?

A: I think it has brought out the best in me. Having to step up to the plate and to always be on my A game and compete my hardest has pushed me and made me better.

Q: Who inspires you to compete at such a high level?

A: My parents inspire me every day. They both work so hard and competed at the highest level themselves in tennis. They have pushed me to be my best in everything that I do along with giving me the freedom to pursue my dreams, which has helped me become a hard worker.

Q: How will all this record-hype translate in the matches to come? Will it at all?

A: It fuels me to become better. I still have so much to work and improve upon. It is awesome that my hard work has translated into some success but I'm not even close to where I want to be.

Q: What has been your favorite match so far? Why?

A: My favorite match was against Pacific, for sure. Our team came together like never before and pulled out the win, which was a huge moment for us.

Q: What has been your favorite moment off the court this season so far?

A: My favorite time off the court was the trip to Hawaii when we went to the beach and got to explore. That was by far the best trip this year.

Q: Do you have any pregame rituals or traditions that you do that you'd like to share?

A: I normally listen to music on my headphones as well as visualizing the match. I do quick meditations before and in-between games.

A couple of weekends ago, two sophomore beach volleyball players, Skylar Caputo and Kaity Bailey, were accompanied by their fathers on a hike up Mount Whitney. Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States. It offers high-altitude hiking and camping, as well as breath-taking alpine scenery. The duo told us about their experience and how it played into their lives as friends and as student-athletes at Pepperdine:

Kaity  Bailey  Skylar  Caputo

Q: First of all, tell me a little about the Mount Whitney experience.

Caputo: Climbing Mount Whitney for the first time was amazing. Being that I have never done it before, reaching the top, feeling the fast wind whip at my layers of clothes, and look across the valley knowing I was standing on the highest point in the continental United States truly was a moment I will never forget.

Bailey: I agree - it was a really fun experience that I will never forget!

Q: Why did the four of you decide to climb it? Why now?

Bailey: It was a father-daughter trip organized by our dads.

Caputo: Yeah, this past summer Kaity and my dad brought up the idea and we were all in. Since the four of us love the outdoors, doing the hike together was an easy decision. We chose recently to do it because since my dad is a fireman and Kaity's dad is a veterinarian, that weekend was ideal for both of their busy schedules.

Q: Have you done this hike, or a hike like it, before?

Caputo: I have done one other 34-mile hike about a month ago. It was not nearly as elevated as Mount Whitney, but I enjoyed the scenery and separation from society during that backpacking trip. I have never done Mount Whitney before this trip and now I can look back at the great memories I have from these two incredible backpacking trips.

Bailey: Yes, that was my third time doing Mount Whitney. I have been backpacking since I was about 3 years old and have done most of the John Muir Trail, Half Dome, etc.

Q: What was the most difficult part of the climb/experience?

Bailey: The hardest part for me was the temperature at night -- it was freezing!

Caputo: For me, the most difficult part of the experience was descending. Once we had made it to the top of Mount Whitney, we realized that we were only halfway. Staying mentally present while descending the switchbacks required focus.

Q: What was the most rewarding part of the climb/experience?

Bailey:  My favorite part was getting to spend quality time with my father.

Caputo: The most rewarding part of the experience was when the four of us looked back at the mountain we had just summited from the valley below on our drive back to campus.

Q: Tell us one of your favorite specific memories from the hike.

Caputo: I can clearly remember how cold it got at night when the sun went down behind the mountains. As Kaity and I were wearing every piece of clothing we had packed in our packs, we hugged each other for warmth. Despite how cold we were at times we just laughed because we couldn't do anything else to make us warmer.

Bailey: Absolutely -- the cold brought us together for sure!

Q: With a total elevation of 14,494 feet, this could not have been an easy climb. Do you think that your experience training for volleyball helped you accomplish this feat? Or was a completely different type of stamina required?

Caputo: The training from volleyball definitely helped us accomplish this feat. Kaity and I did no training to specifically prepare for Mount Whitney, but the conditioning and weightlifting we had done prior to the hike got us ready.

Bailey: Yes, training was obviously a help, but it required more backpacking training because I had new boots that weren't broken in.

Q: How do you think this hike could help you on the sand?

Caputo: When I remember that I have hiked Mount Whitney, all I can really think about is how mentally grueling it was. Yes, it did require physical strength, but I felt it was more about mental strength to hike up and then down. Taking this experience back with me to the sand is a reminder that mental strength is an important factor to achieve an accomplishment.

Bailey: Exercise is always good. Like Skylar said, It helps out more mentally to accomplish any physical goals like the ones we have in sand volleyball as well.

Q: You two are obviously very close -- did you two know each other before coming to play at Pepperdine? Do you feel this experience brought you closer together?

Caputo: Kaity and I both knew each other before coming to play at Pepperdine. No doubt in my mind that this experience brought us both closer together as great friends.

Bailey: Yes, we knew each other a year or two before coming to Pepperdine, but we are roommates so we are already pretty close. It is just another shared experience.

Q: Would you do something like this hike again?

Bailey: Absolutely!

Caputo: I would love to do this hike again. I can't think of any reason why someone would not give it a try.

Q: What is next on your outdoor adventure bucket list?

Caputo: I think for me it would be completing a Catalina Channel crossing on a paddleboard.

Bailey: I'm not sure, to be honest. I don't really have an outdoor adventure bucket list, but I'm always down for an adventure.

After a terrific freshman year in which she earned a starting spot for the Pepperdine indoor volleyball team, played on the beach volleyball team that made an appearance at the inaugural NCAA Championships and claimed Pepperdine Scholar-Athlete honors, sophomore Nikki Lyons is ready to take on her second year as a Wave. The daughter of former professional player Frank Lyons, she provided us with some insights into her love for the sport, her family and Pepperdine:

Nikki  Lyons

Q: Tell us about your father's professional career.

A: My dad played professionally on the AVP Tour during his 20s.

Q: Did his success on the beach fuel your desire to play?

A: His career ended shortly after he had my older sister, so I think that led him to teaching me and my sisters to play. He coached us a lot when we were little and he would play with us all the time so it was always a little motivation because you can't let your old man beat you!

Q: What in particular do you like about indoor volleyball?

A:  I think my favorite part of indoor is the team aspect. Knowing that no matter what, you have 20 other girls to back you up really helps me as a player. It takes a lot of pressure off a single person when there are so many people there to help you carry the load. Another thing I really enjoy about indoor is the fast pace. Constantly staying engaged is such a challenge, but it's what I love most about it.

Q: What in particular do you like about beach volleyball?

A: Beach volleyball is so similar to indoor, but so different as well. I really like the fact that it's just you and one other person so you have complete control over the outcome. I also like it because it forces you to be good and consistent at every skill. I also like it because it's a constant grind.

Q: Did your dad ever tell you some favorite memories from playing?

A: If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase, "Back when I played..." I think I'd be rich! My dad does bring up his memories -- both good and bad -- to give me a reference sometimes and to help put things into perspective. Nowadays with technology it's a little easier to reach a high level, but to reach a high level back in the day took a lot of hard work and dedication. I love hearing his stories about how he pushed himself to reach that level and how he didn't make any excuses.

Q: Did you ever get to watch him play?

A: I wish I could've seen him play! All I have are pictures and he had major hops. I clearly didn't inherit that gene!

Q: What is one thing that you like to do in preparation for a match?

A:  During my club years, I used to prepare by listening to music a lot and getting intense pretty early. Now playing in college, I like to keep things light for most of the day and then about 20 minutes before warm-ups is when I really mentally engage and prepare myself. I think this way it allows me to relieve some of the pressure rather than having it build up all day.

Q: What is your best team memory from playing at Pepperdine so far?

A: There are so many memories from our road trips that it's hard to pick just one! This year we went to Hawai'i for preseason and it was unreal. We went cliff jumping in the North Shore, got acai bowls and did so much exploring it would be hard to not say that's one of my favorite memories so far. One of the coolest memories, playing-wise, was the preseason game against UCLA this year. I don't think I've ever seen Firestone Fieldhouse so packed for a women's volleyball match. It was so much fun to play in front of such a lively and cheerful crowd!

Q: Your sister, Brooke, also played. Do you all have big family games or tournaments?

A: We used to play a lot of beach when we were kids, but now my dad has a bad back and my sister hasn't played in a while so they just prefer to watch me do all the work!

Q: Does your dad/family get to watch you play a lot from Florida?

A: Luckily, almost all of our games are live streamed so my parents usually stay up and watch. My mom even stayed up for our matches against Hawaii that started at 1 a.m. Florida time! They also come out here a decent amount.

Q: Did they go watch the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships in Gulf Shores, Alabama, while you were there?

A: Yes! It's practically in Florida so they wouldn't have missed it because they wouldn't have heard the end of it from me!

Tarah Wylie, a sophomore on the Pepperdine women's volleyball team, made waves her first year on the team by winning the WCC Freshman of the Year award. She was extremely grateful for this honor and it gave her a boost of motivation to work even harder and utilize the talent she sees around her. She reflects on the past year as well as the year ahead:

Tarah  Wylie

Q: You had a great year last year, notably winning WCC Freshman of the Year accolades. How is that influencing your perspective this season?

A: Last year I did earn the WCC Freshman of the Year award and I am still very grateful for that accomplishment. If anything I am just focusing on the present and future rather than looking back to the past. This year a team goal that I set was to win the WCC championship and to mature as a whole. We have a pretty young team this year but I am certain that with practice and determination we can be as solid as any senior team. 

Q: How did it feel to be chosen as WCC Freshman of the Year? 

A: When my coaches told me that I had received the WCC Freshman of the Year award I didn't have that much of a reaction at first because I hadn't even thought about being able to accomplish that. We have a very competitive conference but also the girls that play next to me are incredibly talented. It was a surprise! I am thankful for my coaches and my teammates that got me to the player that I can be today. 

Q:  What advice would you have for others to reach that level of success so early on?

A: My advice is to focus on the team effort and try to make your teammates around you reach their full potential. While focusing on being a good player for the girl playing next to you, I have realized it makes me play better as well as those around me. Positive energy can never be a bad thing to have on and off the court.

Q:  What is your favorite off-the-court memory from last year?

A: It would be experiencing my first year of college with my fellow classmates. Coming in with a big class was very helpful and we bonded very quickly, so I gained some best friends right away, which was great. Another favorite memory was traveling with our team because you get to spend quality time with some amazing people! 

Q:  How about on-court from last year?

A: My most memorable on-court moment was playing at BYU because it was our last game as a squad. I just remember the huge crowd and our team really coming together to put up a good fight. Particularly one long set went 32-30 and winning that was amazing.

Q: How was your summer this year?

A: This summer I had the amazing opportunity to travel abroad with Pepperdine's IP program. I traveled to London and stayed there for two months. It was the most amazing summer I have ever had and I am so grateful that I got to experience a different culture and life for two months. I returned to Malibu on July 2 and got to go back to Pepperdine on the 4th to start volleyball. Quick turnaround, but definitely worth it to get back in the gym with my girls. 

Q: Switching to the present, how is it this time around as a sophomore? Are you carrying more of a leadership role?

A: This season I would like to think that I carry more of a presence on the court as a returning player. Our team is pretty young so anyone that has experience on the court has that extra responsibility of having a leadership role. We have a big team so (Coach Scott Wong) always says that we can have strength in numbers. Our team has every individual contribute something to the fight whether it is on the court or off.

Q:  What are your teammates like this year? How is the chemistry of the team?

A: My teammates all have their own individual personalities. We have a lot of jokesters on the team that keep things light and enjoyable. Overall we have a great group of girls and have fun whether we are in practice or spending a day at the beach together. Our team chemistry is very good and it is that way because we are all competing for one common goal. 

Q:  How have the new freshmen impacted the Waves this season?

A: The new freshmen have impacted our team like they were meant to. They came in wanting to compete for top positions and made everyone else compete, which makes our practices intense. I really love their drive and mentality. Even though they act like true freshmen off the court, they have proven to be mentally tough and appear older once on the court. They are all good volleyball players but even better people and I am enjoying getting to know them.

Q:  What are you most looking forward to this season? And in general?

A: When I put the whole year in perspective I would say I can't wait to see our team reach our highest potential. I think a lot of teams don't look twice at us simply because of our youth. We have already learned a lot from the matches we won and mostly from the games we lost. I believe that failures happen, but failure is the formula for success on any great team. Failure doesn't kill dreams or goals but fear and doubt. We have moved passed the initial fear and doubt that any young team gets when competing and now we can focus on playing our best!

It's all in the family! This year, Pepperdine became home to not one, but two members of the Dyer family. Heidi and Noah Dyer of San Clemente, California, are now both rocking the orange and blue. Heidi, a sophomore business administration major, is an All-American in beach volleyball and was a WCC All-Freshman team member in indoor. Noah, a freshman business administration major, will be a player to watch on the men's volleyball team this year. The Dyer siblings give us insight into growing up together and now being at Pepperdine at the same time: