Waves Down Top-Seeded USC, Face FSU for National Championship

Becca Strehlow

May 3, 2014

GULF SHORES, Ala. – The #2 Pepperdine sand volleyball team punched its ticket into its third-straight title match at the AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship after eliminating #1 USC in the semifinals, 3-2. The Waves will face #4 Florida State in a rematch at 1:30 p.m. (PT)

Pepperdine defeated the Seminoles yesterday in the quarterfinals, 4-1. FSU then made its way back into title contention after beating Florida International later that afternoon. In today’s first semifinal, Florida State topped Hawaii, 4-1.

The Waves took a 3-1 lead before USC was able to steal away the final match in three sets on court one.

“Champions are champions when they need to be,” head coach Nina Matthies told the team before the match, “and now is our time.”

The Trojans, seeded No. 1 in the tournament, struck first with a win from the No. 5 spot in the lineup. Katie Messing (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands HS) and Emily Cook (Huntington Beach, Calif./Murrieta Valley HS) responded, downing Eve Ettinger and Bria Russ in straight sets.

Mere moments later, Caitlin Racich (Santa Barbara, Calif./Dos Pueblos HS) and Delaney Knudsen (Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS) issued Sam Hirschmann and Natasja Siljokovic a 21-18, 21-16 loss to lift the Waves to a 2-1 lead.

On court two, Becca Strehlow (Long Beach, Calif./Woodrow Wilson HS/UCLA) and Lara Dykstra (Redondo Beach, Calif./Redondo Union HS/Nebraska) were up a set on Alexa Strange and Kelly Claes but down set point in the second. The Waves fought their way back, however, and knotted the score at 20-20 before rolling with the momentum to the 23-21 triumph to clinch the dual for Pepperdine.

Kellie Woolever (Long Beach, Calif./Woodrow Wilson HS) and Kelley Larsen (Jamul, Calif./Christian HS) split sets with Kirby Burnham and Sara Hughes and were deadlocked in the third when Pepperdine had secured the team win. Although Team Kell(i)ey had seemingly locked the victory, a touch on the block was called and the teams forged on. With the new life, Burnham and Hughes were able to steal away an 18-16 triumph.

Pepperdine and Florida State meet for the fourth time in program history at 1:30 p.m. (PT) The Waves own a 3-0 record vs. the Seminoles.

A staggered format will be used in the dual, with only two courts going at once. The No. 4 squads will start at 1:30 p.m., followed by the No. 5 teams 10 minutes later. The No. 1s will take to the court next, followed by No. 3 and finally No. 2. Follow the team on Twitter @PeppSandVolley for live updates.

Dual | #2 Pepperdine 3, #1 USC 2 (Semifinals)
May 3, 2014 | Gulf Shores, Ala. (AVCA National Championship)
No. 1  Kirby Burnham/Sara Hughes (USC) def. Kelley Larsen/Kellie Woolever (PEP) 19-21, 22-20, 18-16
No. 2  Lara Dykstra/Becca Strehlow (PEP) def. Alexa Strange/Kelly Claes (USC) 21-18, 23-21
No. 3  Delaney Knudsen/Caitlin Racich def. Sam Hirschmann/Natasja Siljkovic (USC) 21-18, 21-16
No. 4  Emily Cook/Katie Messing (PEP) def. Eve Ettinger/Bria Russ (USC) 21-18, 21-17 
No. 5  Nicolette Martin/Allie Wheeler (USC) def. Sophie Asprey/Victoria Adelhelm (PEP) 21-16, 21-16



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