Austin Wilmot, the towering middle blocker of the Pepperdine Waves men’s volleyball team, hit the court with the red, white, and blue last summer.
The 6-foot-10 graduate student was one of the three Waves players named to the USA Volleyball Men’s Collegiate Training Team, a group of top college players that practiced in Anaheim for two weeks. Then, Wilmot was placed on the Men’s National Team that finished with a 4-2 record in the NORCECA Continental Championship in Mexico in mid-August.
Wilmot said being placed on the National Team immersed him in high-level volleyball.
“That only made me better,” he said. “I was watching guys that were better than me play, and I got to learn from them. I took a lot from different people. I learned a lot from everyone—players and coaches.”
The USA Volleyball opportunities have paid off this season for Wilmot.
He was named the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation’s Defensive Player of the Week on Jan. 17 due to his play in Pepperdine’s first two games of the season, home victories over Erskine.
Wilmot averaged 1.60 blocks per set against Erskine. His eight total blocks contribute to his team-high-tying 17.0 points.
Wilmot, who now has three MPSF weekly honors under his belt, said being named player of the week thanks to his blocking prowess is great.
“In the summer, I thought blocking was one of my weakest skills,” he said. “This shows how much work the coaches have put in with me during the offseason and how much I improved.”
Wilmot’s teammate, sophomore setter Bryce Vorak, won the MPSF Offensive Player of the Week the same day Wilmot received his honor.
Dvorak averaged 9.33 assists per set, hit .571 with five kills, and had a team-high-tying five service aces in the two three-set wins over Erskine. He directed the Waves to a .488 hitting percentage.
Wilmot, a second-team AVCA All-American last season, said his best performance of the season wasn’t against Erskine, though, despite the award. Instead, Wilmot said, his top showing so far was against Princeton, who Pepperdine downed 3-0 the day he and Dvorak were recognized by the MPSF.
He posted 10 kills, 4 blocks, and had 1 ace against Princeton.
“We all had it going against Princeton,” Wilmot said of his team. “I had a crazy hitting percentage. That was fun. I’d like to do that more this year.”
The first four matches of the Waves’ season were canceled because of a COVID outbreak. Pepperdine has a 3-1 record heading into their home match against Lewis on Friday.
The Waves were defeated 3-2 by UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 21.
Wilmot had 9 kills, 4 blocks, and 3 aces in the match. Dvorak had a career-high 50 assists and 7 digs, and 4 service aces. Outside hitter Spencer Wickens, a graduate student, had a match-high 17 kills, 4 blocks, and 3 digs. Opposite Jaylen Jasper, also a graduate student, recorded 11 kills, 7 digs, and 3 blocks.
Pepperdine is one of the top-ranked teams in the country.
Wilmot said the Waves playing their best volleyball will feature players playing smooth and seamlessly, and everyone being a threat rivals have to worry about. Wilmot sees himself as someone drawing the attention of opposing players in order to free up teammates to register big hits and scores.
They can win the national championship, he said.
“It’s a long road ahead, though,” Wilmot said. “We have a deep, talented team. If we stay healthy, I see us winning the national championship.”