Pepperdine, Stanford Take Wins at Zuma Beach on Tuesday
ZUMA BEACH – It’s not that both matches on Tuesday morning and early afternoon at Zuma Beach were supposed to be blowouts, but conclusions could have likely been safely determined beforehand.
And anyway, if sporting events in March have taught fans and the media one thing, it’s this: Never assume a match or game in a tournament in March to be a foregone conclusion.
Opening Tuesday’s dual at Zuma Beach was the Stanford Cardinal and Cal State Northridge Matadors, followed by Stanford vs. Pepperdine. Three programs in three distinctly different phases — developing (Northridge), emerging contender (Stanford), longtime power (Pepperdine).
Heading into Tuesday’s match, Northridge was a respectable 6-6, though the Matadors were winless against major programs – Long Beach State, LMU, Pepperdine, LMU again — on the season. A win over Stanford would have been rightfully dubbed an upset.
Things became a bit more suspenseful, then, when court one was knotted late in the first set, court two was in extra points and court five was tight as well. It provided interest across the board as Daniella Molinari and Seyvion Waggoner played Stanford’s Charlie Ekstrom and Tori Ashkinos well, hanging every step of the way before ultimately dropping 19-21, 18-21.
After playing Morgan Hentz and Sunny Villapando close in the first set, losing 20-22, Northridge’s Darbi Honeycutt and Mikaela Maughan lost momentum in the second, falling 21-11.
Whether it was a sluggish part on Stanford’s part or a torrid one for Northridge, the Cardinal took that momentum and carried it over, both to the remainder of the Northridge match and immediately to Pepperdine afterwards.
Four courts won for the Cardinal over Northridge, with the Matadors’ Nicole Nevarez and Lexi McLeod picking up the lone win, 11-21, 21-16, 15-10.
Villapando and Hentz, in particular, carried their momentum to match two for Stanford, recovering from a 16-21 first set loss to Pepperdine’s Deahna Kraft and Gigi Hernandez to win, 16-21, 21-19, 15-9.
On court three, Stanford’s Blake Sharp and Shannon Richardson challenged Nikki Lyons and Maddie Dilfer, pushing the Waves to three before dropping the third, 15-9.
Court five, between Stanford’s Chelsea Red-Horse Mohl and Kat Anderson and Pepperdine’s Simone Priebe and Katie Gavin were another source of three-set suspense. As has been their custom of late, Gavin and Priebe won in the third, finishing it 15-12, making it their fifth win in the last six matches that have gone the full three sets.
At the end of the day, no, there were no big surprises. No major upsets. Not yet this week, at least. But close matches were not hard to find. A little more suspense than could have been expected was not hard to find.
Such has been the theme of college beach volleyball of late, though the dearth of upsets could see a change as early as Friday, with Florida International hosting a monster of a tournament in Miami this weekend.
Stanford 4, Northridge 1
Court one: Charlie Ekstrom/Tori Ashkinos (STAN) def. Daniella Molinari/Seyvion Waggoner (CSUN) 21-19, 21-18.
Court two: Morgan Hentz/Sunny Villapando (STAN) def. Darbi Honeycutt/Mikaela Maughan (CSUN) 22-20, 21-11.
Court three: Maddie Dailey/Amelia Smith (STAN) def. Taylor Brydon/Lauren McMurray (CSUN) 21-11, 21-10.
Court four: Nicole Nevarez/Lexi McLeod (CSUN) def. Blake Sharp/Shannon Richardon (STAN) 11-21, 21-16, 15-10.
Court five: Kat Anderson/Chelsea Red-Horse Mohl (STAN) def. Cassidy Rosso/Kailey Klein (CSUN) 21-18, 22-20.
Pepperdine 4, Stanford 1
Court one: Heidi Dyer/Brook Bauer (PEPP) def. Charlie Ekstrom/Tori Ashkinos (STAN) 21-15, 21-17.
Court two: Sunny Villapando/Morgan Hentz (STAN) def. Deahna Kraft/Gigi Hernandez (PEPP) 16-21, 21-19, 15-9.
Court three: Skylar Caputo/Alexis Filippone (PEPP) def. Amelia Smith/Maddie Dailey (STAN) 21-6, 21-17.
Court four: Nikki Lyons/Maddie Dilfer (PEPP) def. Blake Sharp/Shannon Richardson (STAN) 18-21, 21-15, 15-9.
Court five: Simone Priebe/Katie Gavin (PEPP) def. Chelsea Red-Horse Mohl/Kat Anderson (STAN) 21-12, 19-21, 15-12.
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