Waves One of Four WCC Schools to Appear in AVCA Preseason Poll
Pepperdine returns five starters to 2013 squad, while adding a proven crop of nine newcomers.
Aug. 12, 2013
MALIBU, Calif. – As women’s volleyball teams across the country are busy preparing for the 2013 season, the AVCA released its annual preseason poll as voted upon by coaches. The Pepperdine women’s volleyball team didn’t quite crack the top-25, but received enough recognition to appear in the “receiving votes” section.
The West Coast Conference was well represented in the AVCA preseason poll, after sending a record six schools to the NCAA Tournament in 2012.
BYU led the league with 728 point and ranked in at #13 in the preseason poll. The Waves, with 65 points, were joined by San Diego (101 points) and Saint Mary’s (27 points) in the “receiving votes” section.
Pepperdine finished the 2012 campaign with a 20-12 record after making its 22nd appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The Waves return five student-athletes from last season’s squad, all with starting experience. Leading the way is senior setter Kellie Woolever (Long Beach, Calif./Woodrow Wilson HS), an AVCA All-American third team selection from a year ago. Woolever led the WCC and ranked 20th in the NCAA with an 11.32 assists/set average in 2012. She has started every match for Pepperdine since setting foot in Malibu in 2010 as a freshman.
Junior middle blocker Samantha Cash (San Diego, Calif./Canyon Crest Academy) is also back in full form and looking to replicate her numbers from her rookie season. The 2011 WCC Freshman of the Year totaled 264 kills and 142 blocks – second most in school history in the rally scoring era – during her first season as a Wave, but saw a decline in her output while battling injury as a sophomore.
Outside hitters Katie Messing (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands HS) and Kelley Larsen (Jamul, Calif./Christian HS), as well as opposite side hitter Taylor Racich (Santa Barbara, Calif./Dos Pueblos HS) round out Pepperdine’s veteran players. Messing ranked second on the team last year with a 2.39 kills/set average, followed by Racich’s contribution of 2.24 kills/set. Racich, a lefty, is also expected to lead the Waves’ assault from the service line after pacing the team with 32 aces as a freshman in 2012.
Larsen, a full-time back row player last year, has proven she can be an effective six-rotation player as well. She registered a pair of kills-digs double-doubles in 2012, first at San Diego and again versus BYU. The outside hitter also displayed her defensive chops at Saint Mary’s when she suited up as the libero and picked up a career-high 25 digs.
A large crop of newcomers – seven freshmen and two transfers – will be expected to fill in the missing gaps. Outside hitters include Jillian Bergeson (Friendswood, Texas/Friendswood HS) and Gaby Palmeri (Davis, Calif./St. Francis HS), while the list of middle blockers includes Brooke Honeycutt (Phoenix, Ariz./Desert Vista HS), Reegan Dennis (Newport Beach, Calif./Orange Lutheran HS), Emma Fuzie (Carmel, Calif./Carmel HS) and Olivia Okoro (Carrollton, Texas/Hebron HS/Tennessee).
Nina Matthies, now in her 31st season at Pepperdine, enlisted the help of Ryann Chandler (Del Mar, Calif./Torrey Pines HS), Monique Domme (Colorado Springs, Colo./Cheyenne Mountain HS) and Becca Strehlow (Long Beach, Calif./Woodrow Wilson HS/UCLA) at the setting position. The defensive-minded setting brigade could also be called upon to fill a gap in the back row as well.
Texas took top spot on the 2013 preseason poll, followed by Penn State and Stanford.
The Waves open the season with two tournaments at home on back-to-back weekends. Opening weekend is set for Aug. 30-31 with the Pepperdine Asics Classic, bringing in Delaware, Iona College and Wisconsin. The following weekend, Sept. 6-7, the Waves host UC Santa Barbara, Virginia and Colorado State for the Pepperdine Invitational.
2013 AVCA Preseason Coaches' Poll
2. Penn State
14. Michigan State
15. Iowa State
18. Florida State
21. Western Kentucky
23. Ohio State
24. Wichita State
Others Receiving Votes and appearing on two or more ballots: San Diego 101; North Carolina 68; Pepperdine 65; Illinois 49; Miami (FL) 41; Oklahoma 35; Kansas State 32; Long Beach State 30; St. Mary’s (CA) 27; Texas A&M 20; Wisconsin 17; California 16; Colorado State 15; Notre Dame 6; San Diego State 6; Northern Iowa 3