Waves Pay Tribute to Maurice Hilliard on the Volleyball Court
It was a bittersweet victory inside Firestone Fieldhouse, as Pepperdine mourns the loss of Maurice Hilliard.
March 12, 2012
MALIBU, Calif. - Today, March 12, 2012, will forever be remembered by the Pepperdine athletics community as the day the world said `goodbye' to coach, friend and mentor Maurice Hilliard. Competing in a volleyball match seemed somewhat insignificant, compared to the loss the friends and family of Hilliard had just suffered.
But the members of the Pepperdine men's volleyball team took the floor with their heads held high, and emerged with a 3-1 (25-18, 25-15, 22-25, 25-17) win versus Harvard.
"Today has been real tough," said senior Matt Pollock (Evergreen Park, Ill./Sandburg HS). "But we knew we had to get out there and play our best. It's what Maurice would have wanted."
Hilliard could always be found inside Firestone Fieldhouse, as well as Pepperdine's other athletic venues, cheering on the Waves.
A seat was saved for him this evening, adorned with flowers.
Another common spot for Hilliard was the bench underneath the tree just outside of the fieldhouse. There, Hilliard spent countless hours listening, mentoring and praying with not just student-athletes, but whoever was in need of a friend.
A vase of roses was placed on the table near the bench earlier this afternoon in his memory.
Nearly the entire Pepperdine student-athlete population came out in show of support for the men's volleyball team.
"That's Pepperdine University at its finest," said Pollock of the overwhelming support.
Joel Lopata (Deerfield, Ill./Deerfield HS) opened the evening reading a passage from the book of Hebrews, and women's basketball senior Skye Barnett (Albuquerque, N.M./Cibola HS) led Firestone Fieldhouse in a word of prayer.
The Waves (10-9, 6-8 MPSF) hit for .426 on the night, led by Maurice Torres' (Riverside, Calif./Orange Lutheran HS) kills-digs double double. The junior tallied a match high 20 kills and 14 digs in tonight's effort. In addition, Torres rattled off three aces - all in consecutive points - to open the contest.
On defense, Nikola Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson HS) came off the bench and paced the Waves with five blocks. Matt West (Seattle, Wash./Shorewood HS) quarterbacked the offense with 52 assists.
Harvard (12-3, 5-2 EIVA) registered a .195 hitting percentage, and saw three different players reach double digit kill totals.
At the end of the evening, the tears gave way to laughter as student-athletes, coaches and staff gathered to share stories of Hilliard and the amazing impact he had on every life he touched.
"How Great is Our God," a favorite of Hilliard's, was sung in closing.