Former Waves Grab Olympic Glory

Kim Hill (No. 15) and USA Women’s Volleyball Team celebrate winning the gold medal. 

A trio of former Pepperdine Waves athletes ended the Summer Olympics in Tokyo with medals hanging around their necks. 

Kim Hill is a member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which won the gold medal in their sport on the last day of the 16-day sporting spectacle. Lynn Williams is a member of the U.S. women’s soccer team, which snagged a bronze medal, and tennis player Luisa Stefani, representing Brazil, garnered a bronze medal in women’s doubles on July 31.

Waves’ athletes have now tallied 22 medals including eight gold, eight silver and six bronze, including the three new discs from the 2020 games.

Hill, a serving specialist, and her team downed Brazil, 25-21, 25-20, 25-14, to win USA women’s volleyball’s first-ever gold medal. Hill’s performance was key to the red, white and blue’s triumph. Her stellar serves propelled the U.S. to a first set win. Hill played in all eight of the U.S. team’s matches. She finished the tournament with three service aces, including one in the final contest. Hill, a 2012 Pepperdine graduate and three-time All-American in college, has been a member of the women’s national team for several years. The group won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. 

Additionally, Pepperdine Waves men’s volleyball head coach emeritus Marv Dunphy was a consultant coach with Kim’s team. 

Williams and the women’s soccer team defeated Australia, 4-3, to win their medals. Williams, an All-American in 2014, her senior season at Pepperdine, didn’t play in the U.S.’s medal-clinching win, but she did take the field in three of the team’s six Olympic matches and made two starts. She earned a goal and an assist in the U.S.’s victory over Netherlands in the quarterfinals. 

Stefani, a Waves tennis player from 2016 to 2018, paired with Laura Pigossi to win Brazil’s first ever medal in Olympic tennis. The duo defeated the Russian Olympic Committee’s Veronika Kudermetova and Elena Vesina, 4-6, 6-4, 11-9, in two hours and 11 minutes to secure a spot at the medal podium. The Brazilians saved four straight match points and won six straight points to seal their victory. Stefani and Pigossi downed two seeded teams in the first rounds of the tournament before losing in the semifinals. 

The South American twosome were one of the last teams to obtain entry in the doubles draw and had only played four matches together before their Olympic debuts. 

Stefani, ranked No. 23 in doubles and a three-time doubles finalist on the WTA this year, and her partner won nearly 67 percent of their second-service points against the Russians. 

After claiming the bronze medal, Stefani said she and Pigossi gave everything they had and were emotional. 

“From 0-0 to 9-5 [in the match-tiebreak], we believed we could make it,” she said, according to a recap of her win on the WTA Tour’s website. “This feeling of confidence and to play properly—this is what is wonderful.”

Stefani and Pigossi surpassed Brazil’s previous best-ever finish in Olympic tennis, Fernando Meligeni’s fourth-place finish in the 1996 Olympics. The former Waves player said there is nothing more important than representing Brazil. 

“This is important for tennis in Brazil,” Stefani said. “It’s a brilliant achievement. Maybe this will bring us more players in Brazil and motivate more girls to play tennis. This is what is wonderful in sport: I want to see Brazilian sport grown, for us to become more important in the sports world, especially for girls.”