Sand Volleyball Takes Care of Business at Zuma Beach

Victoria Adelhelm & Caitlin Racich

April 19, 2014

MALBIU, Calif. – The #2 Pepperdine sand volleyball team was nothing but business during its final event of the regular season, shutting out both #6 Saint Mary’s and Pacific. Despite a bit of wind on an otherwise sunny, perfect day at Zuma Beach, the Waves were dominant and did not drop a single set all morning.

For fifth-year seniors Victoria Adelhelm (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif./Santa Fe Christian HS) and Caitlin Racich (Santa Barbara, Calif./Dos Pueblos HS), it was the final time the two competed on the Zuma sand as collegiate student-athletes.

“I’ve been really grateful to have this experience and extend my athletic career through sand volleyball,” said Adelhelm after the match. “It wasn’t a college sport when I was being recruited (to play indoor), so it was never something I expected to do. But I’ve learned a lot, I’ve grown a lot and made some great friendships along the way so I’m very thankful I’ve had this opportunity.”

Pepperdine ends the regular season with a 15-1 record as it awaits Monday’s AVCA National Championship selection announcement. The Waves are expected to make their third-straight appearance at the national championship. The Waves won it all during the inaugural season in 2012, but came up short in the finals to Long Beach State in 2013 while competing shorthanded.

“We want to come out with another win, another national championship,” continued Adelhelm. “I feel like we owe it to ourselves. We’ve been working really hard this year. I think the competition has stepped up compared to years in the past, but we are ready.”

Adelhelm and partner Sophie Asprey (Southlake, Texas/Liberty Christian School/Tulane) couldn’t be touched today, and outscored opponents 84-37 on their way to a pair of straight-set victories. Adelhelm was credited with five blocks in the first match vs. SMC, followed by eight aces in the follow up against Pacific.

Asprey averaged a staggering 3.00 aces per set across the two matches.

The duo enters the national championship with a 15-1 overall record, including a perfect 10-0 mark from the No. 5 spot in the lineup.

Racich was also victorious twice in her final home appearance, alongside freshman Delaney Knudsen (Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS). Racich was credited with a total of 20 kills and 18 digs.

Team Kell(i)ey, comprised of seniors Kellie Woolever (Long Beach, Calif./Woodrow Wilson HS) and Kelley Larsen (Jamul, Calif./Christian HS) held down the top spot in the Waves’ lineup today, and emerged with two more wins to improve to 20-2 overall.

Larsen led the way in the first match, producing 19 kills to beat Jordan Shaw and Samantha Tinsley 21-15, 21-12. Aside from a brief 3-4 deficit in set two, Team Kell(i)ey never trailed in the match.

Woolever took the reins in the second contest with 17 kills and five aces en route to the 21-8, 21-13 triumph against Pacific’s No. 1 pair.

Playing at No. 2, Becca Strehlow (Long Beach, Calif./Woodrow Wilson HS/UCLA) and Lara Dykstra (Redondo Beach, Calif./Redondo Union HS/Nebraska) added to their win total, beginning with a 21-14, 21-9 rout over the Gaels’ Kristina Graven and Natalie Loos. The duo followed that up with a 21-10, 21-12 triumph against Alicja Wilk and Kimmy Whitson.

Finally, Katie Messing (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands HS) and Emily Cook (Huntington Beach, Calif./Murrieta Valley HS) concluded the regular season with an impressive 12-1 dual record. The pair allowed on average just 9.5 points per set across the two matches this morning.

For Cook, it may have been her final match at Zuma Beach as well. The fourth-year senior may return to use her final year of eligibility in 2015 as a graduate student.

#6 Saint Mary’s is now 10-2 on the season, suffering its only other loss to #5 Long Beach State on Thursday. Pacific falls to 8-2 in 2014.

Championship selections will be announced on Monday by the AVCA and will be made available on

Dual | #2 Pepperdine 5,  #6 Saint Mary’s 0 
April 19, 2014 | Malibu, Calif. (Zuma Beach)
No. 1  Kelley Larsen/Kellie Woolever (PEP) def. Jordan Shaw/Samantha Tinsley (SMC) 21-15, 21-12
No. 2  Lara Dykstra/Becca Strehlow (PEP) def. Kristina Graven/Natalie Loos (SMC) 21-14, 21-9
No. 3  Delaney Knudsen/Caitlin Racich (PEP) def. Dalas Dodd/Alexis Salmons (SMC) 21-18, 21-12
No. 4  Emily Cook/Katie Messing (PEP) def. Rachel Gillcrist/Mileva Popovic (SMC) 21-7, 21-14
No. 5  Victoria Adelhelm/Sophie Asprey (PEP) def. Maegan Conroy/Milena Popovic (SMC) 21-7, 21-7

Dual | #2 Pepperdine 5,  Pacific 0 
April 19, 2014 | Malibu, Calif. (Zuma Beach)
No. 1  Kelley Larsen/Kellie Woolever (PEP) def. Lexi Elman/Kat Schulz (UOP) 21-8, 21-13
No. 2  Lara Dykstra/Becca Strehlow (PEP) def. Kimmy Whitson/ Alicja Wilk (UOP) 21-10, 21-12
No. 3  Delaney Knudsen/Caitlin Racich (PEP) def. Mia Feiner/Gillian Howard (UOP) 21-17, 21-11
No. 4  Emily Cook/Katie Messing (PEP) def. Megan Birch/Katy Tagart (UOP) 21-7, 21-10
No. 5  Victoria Adelhelm/Sophie Asprey (PEP) def. Anne-Sophie Bauer/Jessica Diederich (UOP) 21-12, 21-11



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