Sweep over San Diego assures Pepperdine its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament bid
The Pepperdine Waves women’s volleyball team are West Coast Conference champions.
The squad won the conference title with a sweep over San Diego on Nov. 11 at Pepperdine’s Firestone Fieldhouse.
By winning the WCC’s regular season championship, the Waves earned their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament bid. It’s also the fifth time in the last six years Pepperdine has qualified for the postseason event.
The Waves head into their matchup against Pacific on Thursday on a 17-game winning streak. The Waves have an 18-6 overall record and are 14-0 in the WCC.
Pepperdine defeated San Diego 25-19, 25-22, 25-17. Junior outside hitter Grace Chillingworth and senior setter Birdie Hendrickson led the Waves. Chillingworth had 16 kills and nine digs and Hendrickson racked up 11 kills and six digs.
Hendrickson and fellow seniors outside hitter Emma Ammerman, middle blocker Meg Brown, and middle blocker Sterling Parker, along with graduate students Riley Patterson, a libero and defensive specialist, and setter Isabel Zelaya, were honored with their families before the match in recognition of Senior Night. The six players were given framed senior jerseys and pictures.
The Waves rushed the court when they secured the winning point of the final set against San Diego. The players jumped, high-fived, hugged, and dogpiled briefly. When they were presented with the WCC title trophy, the players had white caps with “2023-24 WCC Champions” inscribed in teal letters atop their heads. Scott Wong, the team’s head coach, smiled as he lifted the trophy above his head in front of the crowd.
Pepperdine and San Diego were tied at several points in the first set. The Toreros pulled ahead two times, but each time the Waves bounced back with a succession of kills. Two straight points from Emily Hellmuth and a kill by Chillingworth gave Pepperdine a 21-18 lead. The visiting team had two errors before Chillingworth registered another kill. A smash by Hellmuth gave Pepperdine a 25-19 triumph.
The Waves had an 11-7 lead in the second set and never looked back — although San Diego would come within one point. A Hendrickson kill gave Pepperdine a 21-18 lead, then points by Chillingworth and Hellmuth solidified the 25-22 win for the team.
Freshman libero and defensive specialist Lain Brigg’s second ace of in the third set put Pepperdine up 14-8. Brown and Chillingworth’s smashes and Torero errors gave the Waves a 22-13 advantage. Riley Patterson, a libero and defensive specialist, secured Pepperdine’s 25-17 victory with an ace.
Patterson had 11 digs, eight kills, and one ace. Brown tallied seven kills, four digs, and three blocks. Zelaya had 31 assists, eight digs, three blocks, and an ace. Hellmuth registered eight kills and two blocks. Brigg had eight digs and two aces.
After facing Pacific, Pepperdine plays San Francisco in San Francisco on Saturday. The squad plays SMU in Dallas on Nov. 20 to close the regular season.