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Pepperdine Waves Sand Volleyball Team Claims Two National Championship Titles
The Pepperdine women's sand volleyball team recently made two noteworthy accomplishments on the court. On April 28, the Waves won the first-ever AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship, defeating Long Beach State in the finals, 5-0. The next day, on April 29, Pepperdine's four All-Americans concluded the AVCA Collegiate Sand National Championship April 29 with the pairs tournament, where 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.
The AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship is the 20th national title, either by a team or an individual, for Pepperdine, but it is the first one captured by a women's team.
The Waves, who finish their first season a perfect 17-0, downed College of Charleston to open the day, before defeating the 49ers 3-2 in the semifinals. Long Beach State fought its way out of the elimination bracket by beating Florida State for the second time today to advance to the finals.
In the championship match, Pepperdine shot out to an early lead by winning the first set on all five courts.
Ross and Racich were the first to finish, topping Caitlin Ledoux and Tara Roenicke, 22-15, 21-11.
It was a flurry of excitement after that, with the next three matches all finishing within about two minutes of one another.
Victoria Adelhelm and Kellie Woolever bounced back from a tough showing against Jocelyn Neely and Lauren Minkel in the semifinals to beat the 49er pair 21-16, 21-8 in the finals.
On court five, Emily Cook and Michaela Christiaansen took care of business, scoring a 21-16, 22-20 decision versus Janisa Johnson and Tyler Jackson.
Simultaneously, Kim Hill and Lilla Frederick put the finishing touches on a 21-14, 21-18 triumph over Haleigh Hampton and Chelsea Cabrajac.
Stevi Robinson and Kelley Larsen won the first set 21-16, but trailed 17-18 in the second when Delainey Aigner-Swesey and Libby Fontanilla forfeited the match.
Hill, Frederick, Racich and Ross were named to the 10-player AVCA All-American team in a ceremony following the match. Other members of the inaugural class include Jane Croson (Hawaii), Ledoux, Roenicke, Brittany Tiegs (Florida State), Jekaterina Stepanova (Florida State), and Aurora Newgard (Florida State).
View highlights from Sunday's pairs championship, won by Caitlin Racich and Summer Ross, on YouTube.
Pepperdine's four All-Americans concluded the AVCA Collegiate Sand National Championship April 29 with the pairs tournament. Hill and Frederick earned the top seed in the 16-team bracket, while Racich and Ross took the No. 2 seed.
Racich and Ross, who were the 16-team bracket's 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."
Also competing in the pairs championship were seniors Frederickand Hill, who had earned the No. 1 seed following Friday's pool play.
In the first match of the day, Racich and Ross downed Elyse Chubb and Lizzie Theesfeld of the College of Charleston 21-9, 21-11, while Frederick and Hill defeated Alabama-Birmingham's Kirsten Gallagher and Heather Thomas 21-11, 21-11. Racich and Ross battled with USC's top team of Geena Urango and Sara Shaw in the quarterfinals. The Wave tandem edged the Trojans in the first frame 21-19, before riding the momentum to a 21-9 victory in set two.
On the other side of the bracket, Frederick and Hill also faced a local rival in Hampton and Cabrajac of Long Beach State. Pepperdine proved to be too much for the 49ers and put the match away 21-11, 21-16.
Officials elected to cross over the semifinal match-ups, which meant the two Pepperdine teams faced off in the semifinals. Racich and Ross came out on top with a two-set win against their teammates.
The championship match featured Racich and Ross versus Roenicke and Ledoux. The 49ers, who were seeded fifth, earned the early advantage in the first set, and Ross and Racich were unable to overcome the deficit. Long Beach went on to win 21-14.
The Waves answered in the second set, jumping out to a 12-9 lead before Roenicke and Ledoux closed the gap to one. Ross and Racich continued to fight however, and a late run secured the 21-15 win to force a third and deciding set.
The final stanza played out point-for-point from start to finish. Tied at eight, LBSU went on a 6-3 run to give themselves three match points at 11-14.
Pepperdine refused to give up, however, and scored three points behind the serve of Racich to knot the score once again. The Waves continued to fight and scored once more to earn match point. With Racich still at the service line, the junior dished an ace to clinch the first-ever sand volleyball pairs championship crown.
The Waves concluded the first-ever season with a perfect 17-0 record.
CBS Sports Network will televise portions of the competition in two hour-long specials. Part 1 of their coverage will air beginning on Wednesday, June 6 at 9 p.m. (PT) and Part 2 will begin airing on Wednesday, June 13, also at 6 p.m.