Waves Punch Ticket to NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 With Triumph Over North Carolina
Pepperdine advances to the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in school history.
Dec. 2, 2011
MALIBU, Calif. - The Pepperdine women's volleyball team, seeded No. 15 in the NCAA Tournament bracket, defeated North Carolina to advance to the Sweet 16 for the seventh time since 1998 and first since the 2005 season. The Waves topped the Tar Heels in straight sets, and finished the year with a 14-1 record inside Firestone Fieldhouse.
Pepperdine (24-6) has a date with Kansas State (22-10) at the Honolulu Regional hosted by Hawaii on Dec. 9. The Wildcats upset the No. 2 seeded Nebraska on the Cornhusker's home court to earn a spot in the Sweet 16.
It was a well-balanced offensive effort from the Waves tonight, with Kim Hill (Portland, Ore./Portland Christian HS) leading the way with 13 kills. Katie Messing (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands HS) followed with eight put aways, while Victoria Adelhelm (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif./Santa Fe Christian HS) and Kellie Woolever (Long Beach, Calif./Woodrow Wilson HS) chipped in seven apiece.
Overall, Pepperdine maintained control of the match with a .398 hitting percentage - a testament to the Waves' well-controlled passing tonight.
Senior Stevi Robinson, who picked up a match-high 13 digs, credited the fans for their part in the victory.
"(Our fans) were absolutely fantastic. Parents, friends, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, everybody in school came to support us," praised Robinson, "The past two nights have been tremendous. The help we get from the fans is great. We're going to miss that."
The Waves have benefited from the home court advantage, both in the regular season and in postseason play. Pepperdine is 9-1 all-time at home during NCAA Tournament play and a solid 305-110 (.735) inside Firestone Fieldhouse since 1975 when its doors first opened.
Although Pepperdine may be playing far away from home next weekend, Coach Nina Matthies was quick to state her excitement for playing in the Stan Sheriff Center for the third time this season.
"We have a great fan base in Hawaii. I love playing in Hawaii. The fans are fantastic. They love volleyball, they love good volleyball, they love the Waves. Even when we play the Wahine, it's never a hostile environment, it is a fantastic environment."
The Waves controlled the rhythm of the first frame versus UNC, hitting a blazing .448 hitting percentage. Hill tagged down six kills earned on 12 attempts, while Robinson tallied six digs to give her team plenty of offensive opportunities.
North Carolina (24-9) pressured Pepperdine in set two, and took a 13-11 lead, but the Waves quickly regained the advantage following kills from Hill, Messing and Woolever. Messing tacked down three kills in the final four points to clinch the 25-22 win and put the home team up 2-0 heading into the break.
The Waves built an 8-3 lead to begin the final stanza, thanks in part to the stellar service of Woolever and Lilla Frederick (Huntington Beach, Calif./Cornelia Connelly HS), who logged two her match-best four aces in the opening points. The Tar Heels eventually found their rhythm and took over the lead, 20-19, but the Waves remained composed and scored three unanswered points. Frederick put a ball away to set up match point, followed by a UNC attack error to clinch the match and a spot in the Sweet 16.
Emily McGee paced the Tar Heels with 18 kills. Her 14th put away of the match counted as career-kill #1,000.
Adelhelm tallied five blocks for the second-straight match, while Hill and Messing added two each.
This was the third time in program history the Waves topped the Tar Heels in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and the first time to have done so at home.
The Waves play Kansas State in Honolulu, Hawaii at the Stan Sheriff Center on Dec. 9. Joining them will be the winners of the Hawaii/Colorado State and the USC/Tulsa matches. The team to emerge out of next week's action makes a trip to San Antonio, Texas where the Final Four will be held inside the Alamodome.
For the 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket, complete with updates, click here.