Pepperdine’s beach volleyball team began its season in a thrilling way last Saturday.
Down 0-2 to the third-ranked UCLA Bruins, the Waves, ranked fourth in AVCA polls, mounted a comeback in front of dozens of fans at Zuma Beach to defeat the Bruins, 3-2.
Pepperdine coach Nina Matthies said beating one of the nation’s top teams was an awesome feeling.
“It couldn’t have been any better of a win,” she said. “To come from behind and win 3-2 — that is college beach volleyball right there.”
Pepperdine’s victory over UCLA was the first of three games at the Pepperdine kickoff. The top-ranked USC Trojans beat UCLA in the second contest by a score of 3-2. The day closed with the Waves falling, 4-1, to the defending national champion Trojans.
Pepperdine’s opening season win over the Bruins had the beach buzzing.
UCLA’s pairings of Megan McNamara and Nicole McNamara and Elise Zappia and Izzy Carey claimed wins on the first and fourth courts, but then the Waves got their first win due to the spiking and volleying of graduate student Brittany Howard and junior Corinne Quiggle.
The duo, the Waves’ No. 2 pair, defeated UCLA’s Kamila Tan and Madi Yeomans, 21-15, 21-19. Quiggle had 15 kills and Howard had 12 kills and two blocks. Both Waves had one ace.
The final two matches between Pepperdine and UCLA’s No. 3 and 5 parings went to three-set matches.
The Waves’ Katty Workman, a graduate student, and freshman Gigi Hernandez split sets one and two with UCLA’s Chanti Holroyd and Lily Justine. The No. 5 Waves pair won the final set 15-11, which tied the overall score at two apiece.
Hernandez had 13 kills, three aces and one block. Workman had 19 kills and two aces.
Pepperdine sophomores Skylar Caputo and Heidi Dyer, Pepperdine’s No. 3 grouping, cemented the Waves’ comeback win over the Bruins by defeating Savvy Simo and Torrey Van Winden, 16-14 in the last of three sets.
Dyer and Caputo won the first set, 21-12, but lost the second one, 21-18. The two were down by three points in the final set; however, they fought back to tie the score, 14-14. The pairing then secured the two-point match win.
Dyer had 25 kills and three blocks. Caputo posted 12 kills and three aces.
Matthies said she told her team to stick with their game plan throughout the match.
“[I told them] just to be ourselves and play hard; play to win and stay steady,” she said. “They hung in there and didn’t make too many errors, so it was good.”
Caputo and Dyer were the lone Waves to claim a win in Pepperdine’s match against USC. The doublet defeated Terese Cannon and Nicolette Martin, 22-20, 21-14. Dyer had 15 kills and two blocks, and Caputo had nine kills. Each had an ace.
Pepperdine next takes the sand to play second-ranked Florida State and Georgia State, ranked eighth, on March 12 in Manhattan Beach
Matthies said her squad has great resilience.
“They have great personalities and they work really hard,” she said. “It’s a really fun and dedicated group of kids. We enjoy every day.”