Waves Contend for Inaugural AVCA Collegiate Sand National Championship

Victoria Adelhelm

April 25, 2012

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MALIBU, Calif. - After going a perfect 14-0 during the regular season, the Pepperdine women’s sand volleyball team contends for the inaugural AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship this weekend, April 27-29, in Gulf Shores, Ala.

DAY ONE - Friday (April 27) Pairs championship pool play at 11 a.m. (CT) Programs fielding pairs in the 16-team pairs championship include Pepperdine, USC, Long Beach State, Hawaii, Alabama-Birmingham, Stetson, College of Charleston, Florida Atlantic, North Florida and Florida State.

DAY TWO - Saturday (April 28): Double elimination team championship. Dual action begins at 11 a.m. (CT) The first-ever AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Team Championship is on the line for Pepperdine, Florida State, Long Beach State and College of Charleston.

DAY THREE - Sunday (April 29) Pairs championship featuring single elimination bracket play. Seeding based on Friday’s pool play results. Play begins at 8 a.m. (CT)

COVERAGE - Full results and recaps will be posted on www.PepperdineSports.com at the end of each day, while live updates and other coverage can be followed on Twitter @PepperdineWVB. Follow us today!

TELEVISION - CBS Sports Network will televise portions of the competition in two hour-long specials. Part 1 of their coverage will air beginning on Wednesday, June 6 at 9 p.m. (PT) and Part 2 will begin airing on Wednesday, June 13, also at 6 p.m.

LOOKING BACK - The Waves had a successful outing at the USAV Collegiate Challenge to wrap up the regular season on a high note. Pepperdine defeated Loyola Marymount, USC, Long Beach State and Hawaii during Saturday’s team competition. During the pairs championship on Sunday, Caitlin Racich and Summer Ross defeated Lilla Frederick and Kim Hill in the Gold Divisions’ all-Pepperdine final. In the silver bracket, Emily Cook and Michaela Christiaansen reached the finals before suffering a loss to Janisa Johnson and Tyler Jackson of Long Beach State.

SCOUTING THE COMPETITION - The Waves have faced all three other teams competing at the AVCA Collegiate Sand National Championship during the regular season with favorable outcomes. Pepperdine opened the season placing first at the USC Tournament, compared to Florida State’s second-place finish. In dual action, the Waves are 3-0 against the 49ers and swept the College of Charleston 5-0 in the only regular season meeting.

PEPPERDINE TRADITION - Pepperdine is no stranger to winning national titles. Since 1947, the Waves have won 19 various championships. At the NCAA level, Pepperdine has claimed nine team championships (Men’s Volleyball, 5; Baseball, 1; Men’s Golf, 1; Men’s Water Polo, 1; Men’s Tennis, 1) and three individual titles (men’s tennis: 2 doubles champions, 1 singles champion). The Waves have also won national team and individual titles at the NAIA level back in the 1950’s and clinched its first championship when the now defunct football team won the 1947 Small College crown. Interestingly enough, the Pepperdine men account for all 19 of these titles. The women’s golf team came close in 2003, placing second at the NCAA Championship.

PAIRS CHAMPIONSHIP - Two Pepperdine duos will be competing in the pairs championship, including Summer Ross and Caitlin Racich and Kim Hill and Lilla Frederick. Ross and Racich hold down the No. 1 spot in the lineup and are 19-3 overall this season. Hill and Frederick boast a 17-8 record, and play No. 2 for the Waves. In addition to Ross and Racich, Pool 2 includes Burnham/Irvin (USC), Tate/Pizzochini (FSU) and Gallahager/Thomas (UAB). Frederick and Hill will battle against Ledoux/Roenicke (LBSU), Chubb/Threesfeld (College of Charleston) and Melville/Bassett (Stetson) in Pool 3.

EAST COAST SWING - Pepperdine steamrolled through the College of Charleston Sand Classic, sweeping UAB, North Florida, Mercer and the hosting Cougars all by scores of 5-0. What’s more is that the Waves did not drop a single set, and allowed on average just 12.1 points per set.

PROGRAM DEBUT - Pepperdine made a huge statement in its opening weekend of play, going a combined 33-11 at the USC Tournament on March 16-18. The Waves came out of Friday’s pool play as the clear front runners, going a tournament best 12-3 versus the Trojans, Florida State and Long Beach State.

During Saturday’s team competition, Pepperdine took first place with 18 points, followed by the Seminoles with 12 points. All five Wave pairs reached the finals, with three emerging as the first-place team in the respective flights. For placing first, Pepperdine tallied its first three dual match wins of the season.

Two Pepperdine duos reached the semifinals for the pairs competition, including Caitlin Racich and Summer Ross, and Victoria Adelhelm and Kellie Woolever. Racich and Ross advanced the finals, but suffered a three-set loss to Florida State’s Aurora Newgard and Brittany Tiegs, who went undefeated over the course of the weekend.

ZUMA BEACH - The Waves call Zuma Beach “home,” practicing and hosting all home events at one of Malibu’s most picturesque locations. Courts are located just beyond Point Dume when traveling from campus, or near the 29800 block of the Pacific Coast Highway.

THE LINEUP - Head coach Nina Matthies has utilized the following line up this season: No. 1/2 Caitlin Racich/Summer Ross; No. 2/1 Lilla Frederick/Kim Hill; No. 3/4 Kelley Larsen/Stevi Robinson; No. 34/3 Victoria Adelhelm/Kellie Woolever; No. 5 Michaela Christiaansen/Emily Cook. Kelli Branning also seen time playing at the No. 5 spot in the line up.

DEPTH - The Waves have proven early that there are no weak spots in their line up and are strong top to bottom. Kelly Larsen and Stevi Robinson, who make up Pepperdine’s No. 3/4 pair, downed USC’s top pair of Sara Shaw and Geena Urango in straight sets to advance to the quarterfinals of the pairs championship at the USC Tournament. Michaela Christiaansen and Emily Cook, who hold down the No. 5 spot, also defeated Shaw and Urango, as well as Long Beach State’s No. 2 team of Lauren Minkel and Delainey Aigner-Swesey and Florida State’s No. 3 pair of Visnja Djurdjecvic and Melanie Pavels. No. 3/4 Victoria Adelhelm and Kellie Woolever won eight-straight matches during the opening weekend, before suffering their only defeat to teammates Caitlin Racich and Summer Ross in the semifinals of the pairs championship.

SAND VOLLEYBALL 101 - Each team competition is called a dual and will consist of five pairs from one school versus five pairs from another school. Each match is worth one point towards the team score. In this best-of-five format, a winner is determined when a team scores at least three points (similar to how collegiate tennis duals are contested).

The separate matches consist of the best-of-three sets, with rally scoring to 21 in the first two sets and to 15 in the third set if necessary. Teams must win by at least two points.

Pairs competitions will also be held this season, with the two-person teams being placed in brackets and playing in single or double elimination tournaments.

The AVCA National Team Championship will be held in the same format as the team competition at the USC Tournament. The No. 1 pairs from all four schools in attendance will play each other in a double-elimination flight (No. 2 vs. No. 2 etc.), with a sudden death final. The first-place team from each flight is awarded four points, second place earns three points, two points for third place and point for fourth. The team with the most points at the end is crowned the champion.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? - There are a few key elements of sand volleyball that differ from its indoor counterpart. No open hand tipping is allowed, and the block touch counts as the first of three allowable contacts. Coaches may only speak to players or give instruction during timeouts or between sets. Finally, to make a level playing field with regards to impact of the sun and wind, the players switch sides of the court every seven points in a 21 point set, and every five points in a 15 point set. The court is also smaller at 8x8 meters, while the indoor court measures 9x9 meters.

WHAT’S AN EMERGING SPORT? - Collegiate sand volleyball is an “emerging sport.” It has 10 years to gain the minimum 40 sponsoring institutions for two years in a row to be considered an NCAA Championship sport.

Nina Matthies - Nina Matthies’ just completed her 29th season as head coach for the indoor team and boasts a career record of 553-319 (.632), which includes 10 conference championships and 19 NCAA Tournament appearances. She is by far the WCC’s all-time winningest coach and is a 10-time WCC Coach of the Year. Matthies was among the world’s top players and is a member of the Beach Volleyball Hall of Fame. In 2009, Dig Magazine rated her and former partner Linda Hanley as the second-best women’s beach team of all time. She won two AIAW national championships as a player at UCLA.

VOLLEYBALL HISTORY — The Pepperdine women’s indoor volleyball program is synonymous with the word excellence, as the Waves are a perennial national power. The Waves have advanced to postseason play 26 times in 37 seasons, including 12 trips to the NCAA Championships in the last 15 seasons. Pepperdine’s best finishes in recent years came when the team made the regional final of the 2002 NCAAs, and again during the 2011 season.

ABOUT PEPPERDINE — Pepperdine boasts a one-of-a-kind athletic department with unprecedented success for a school of its size. The Waves have won NCAA Division I championships in five different men’s sports - one of just 16 schools to have accomplished this feat - and nine overall. Of this elite group, Pepperdine has the smallest enrollment and is the only school not in a major conference. Located in scenic Malibu, Calif., the university overlooks the Pacific Ocean and its campus and athletic facilities are regularly voted among the nation’s most beautiful.



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