Pepperdine claims first national title in women’s athletics

The Pepperdine University women’s sand volleyball team is all smiles after winning the inaugural AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Team Championship in Alabama on Sunday, making them the first women’s team at the university to earn a national title.

Pepperdine University won the inaugural AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Team Championship in Gulf Shores, Ala. on Saturday over Long Beach State University and concluded its first-ever season with a perfect 17-0 record. On Sunday, Caitlin Racich and Summer Ross came up with a giant come-from-behind effort in the finals to capture the first AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship pairs title Sunday. The national titles are a first for women’s athletics at Pepperdine, which had not previously won the country’s top honors in any of the women’s sports that Pepperdine plays.

Racich (Santa Barbara, Calif./Dos Pueblos HS) and Ross (Carlsbad, Calif./Carlsbad Seaside Academy), who were the 16-team brackets’ No. 2 seed, cruised through the first three rounds, never dropping a set.

In the championship match, the duo found themselves down 11-14 in the third set before rattling off five unanswered points to clinch the championship.

“I thought Caitlin and Summer hung in there and played very well today and the whole tournament,” said head coach Nina Matthies. “The whole team played well all weekend. I’m very proud of them, and what this means for Pepperdine.”

Also competing in the pairs championship were seniors Lilla Frederick (Huntington Beach, Calif./Cornelia Connelly HS) and Kim Hill (Portland, Ore./Portland Christian HS), who had earned the No. 1 seed following Friday’s pool play.