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Pepperdine wins revenge match in opener

Pepperdine Wins ‘Revenge Match’ Over Hawai’i in Season Opener

Gigi Hernandez-Deahna Kraft-p1440

For 296 days it had been festering. A 3-2 loss to Hawai’i in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, the one that relegated the Waves to the contenders bracket and expedited a premature end to what had been a brilliant season.

“Revenge match,” is how the Waves referred to their 3 p.m. Saturday matchup, the one with those same Bows. Better yet, it would be in Hawai’i, where a win over the No. 5-ranked Bows, on their home Queen’s Beach, would be quite the poetic season opener.

“Before the match, I went up to a couple girls and said ‘This is 100 percent a revenge match. We gotta come out hard and have each other’s backs,’” junior blocker Deahna Kraft said.

In truth, it was more than a simple revenge match. It was the feature showing of day one of the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Beach Classic, and most every beach volleyball fan on the island – and likely off of it – knew it. Ari Homayun, a senior at Hawai’i who started on court 3 alongside Julia Scoles, declared it as such prior to the tournament, telling viewers on the local KHON2 that if they were looking for good volleyball, come out to Queen’s at 3 p.m. on Saturday for Hawai’i vs. Pepperdine.

It lived up to the billing, with Pepperdine edging it out, 3-2, after Brook Bauer and Heidi Dyer, Maddie Dilfer and Alexis Filippone, and Katie Gavin and Nikki Lyons claimed the final three matches on courts 1, 4 and 5, respectively.

“This win was definitely a huge confidence booster,” Kraft said of Pepperdine, which will be without the services of Maddy Roh, who tore her ACL earlier in pre-season. “It was just a fun game, great atmosphere.”

Both sides would agree that it wasn’t the prettiest of matches, though that’s also a bit of the expectation when it comes to February. One can train all the skills they’d like in the off-season and pre-season, but there’s no substitute for competition and the nerves that come with it.

“Huge day for the Waves,” said assistant coach Jon Daze, who’s taking on head coaching duties for the weekend with Marcio Sicoli staying in Southern California with his newborn son. “A 3-2 win is still a win. We had a couple teams that, we know, were not at their best. But still, beating two solid teams, Stanford and Hawai’i, without putting your best foot forward is really what collegiate beach volleyball is about. And on any given day, those teams that maybe struggled today, they’re going to clinch a dual for us down the road. Winning despite not having your best day is a great sign for a team, knowing that when our great days come, we can win a national championship. It’s early in the year, every team knows that. It’s a great start, but we’re nowhere near the finish we’re looking for.”

The minutiae of each match, yes, did prove to be a bit unpredictable. But overall, there were no big surprises in Waikiki on Saturday. Defending National Champ UCLA cruised despite typical court 1 pair, Nicole and Megan McNamara, sitting out due to illness, sweeping Stanford to begin the day. The only match that went to three was on court 3, though Savvy Simo and Mac May still prevailed, topping Maddie Dailey and Morgan Hentz 18-21, 21-13, 15-10.

In their afternoon matchup with St. Mary’s, the Bruins again swept, making for a perfect 15-0 on all courts this season.

“I think we’re a little subpar, to be honest,” UCLA coach Stein Metzger said. “Some of the practices we have are just gangbusters, the level has been great, the competition has been great. I think everyone is still just getting the jitters out and I’m sure other teams are feeling the same way, we’re no exception. But I expect that we still have some upside.”

Both the jitters and bright spots were in plentiful supply from all five programs at Queen’s. St. Mary’s’ top court of Lindsey Knudsen and Sarah Chase pushing Sarah Sponcil and Lily Justine to 15-12 in the third was a bit of a surprise, given that Knudsen and Chase have only been practicing for two weeks after an indoor season and an overseas January term.

For Hawai’i, though visibly disappointed in its loss to Pepperdine, its court 2 of Amy Ozee and Morgan Martin was magnificent, their closest set of the day being 21-15. Same goes for its court 3, Homayun and Scoles, who won their two matches by a combined 37 points

Though Stanford dropped both of its matches, the Cardinal’s contingent of freshmen – Stanford starts one freshman on every court – showed promise in their debut, particularly the quicksilver fast Tori Ashkinos who, playing behind 6-foot-4 senior Courtney Bowen, won her second match of the day, over Pepperdine’s Kraft and Gigi Hernandez, 21-19, 22-20.

“It’s insane, we’ve been training for so long,” Ashkinos said. “Just coming out here and getting to play after 15, 16, 17 weeks of training, being in Hawai’i especially for the season-opener, it’s a lot of fun. I love volleyball.”

 

Box score

UCLA 5, Stanford 0

Court 1: UCLA Sarah Sponcil, Lily Justine def. Stanford Sunny Villapando, Charlie Ekstrom 21-12, 21-19

Court 2: UCLA Zana Muno, Abby Van Winkle def. Courtney Bowen, Tori Ashkinos 21-18, 21-16

Court 3: UCLA Savvy Simo, Mac May def. Stanford Maddie Dailey, Morgan Hentz 18-21, 21-13, 15-10

Court 4: UCLA Izzy Carey, Megan Muret def. Amelia Smith, Melissa Daniel 21-10, 21-9

Court 5: UCLA Madi Yeomans, Lindsey Sparks def. Stanford Blake Sharp, Jordan McKinney 21-13, 21-5

 

Hawai’i 4, St. Mary’s 1

Court 1: Hawai’i Emily Maglio, Hi’ilave Huddleston def. St. Mary’s Sarah Chase, Lindsey Knudsen 21-18, 21-14

Court 2: Hawai’i Morgan Martin, Amy Ozee def. St. Mary’s Emily Bible, Lindsey Calvin 21-10, 21-11

Court 3: Hawai’i Ari Homayun, Julia Scoles def. St. Mary’s Alexsa Parker, Sienna Young 21-10, 21-12

Court 4: Hawai’i Pani Napoleon, Kylin Loker def. St. Mary’s Morgan Kendrick, Jennifer Laird 21-9, 21-15

Court 5: St. Mary’s Chandler Cowell, Selbie Christensen def. Hawai’i Paige Dreeuws, Sofia Russo 13-21, 21-19, 15-11

 

Pepperdine 3, Stanford 2

Court 1: Pepperdine Brook Bauer, Heidi Dyer def. Stanford Charlie Ekstrom, Sunny Villapando 21-9, 21-17

Court 2: Stanford Courtney Bowen, Tori Ashkinos def. Pepperdine Gigi Hernandez, Deahna Kraft 21-19, 22-20

Court 3: Stanford Maddie Dailey, Morgan Hentz def. Pepperdine Skylar Caputo, Jenna Tunnell 21-14, 19-21, 15-12

Court 4: Pepperdine Maddie Dilfer, Alexis Filippone def. Stanford Amelia Smith, Melissa Daniel 21-13, 21-15

Court 5: Pepperdine Katie Gavin, Nikki Lyons def. Stanford Jordan McKinney, Blake Sharp 26-24, 21-12

 

UCLA 5, St. Mary’s 0

Court 1: UCLA Sarah Sponcil, Lily Justine def. St. Mary’s Lindsey Knudsen, Sarah Chase 21-16, 19-21, 15-12

Court 2: UCLA Zana Muno, Abby Van Winkle def. St. Mary’s Emily Bible, Lindsey Calvin 21-17, 15-21, 15-6

Court 3: UCLA Mac May, Savvy Muno def. St. Mary’s Alexsa Parker, Sienna Young 21-18, 21-12

Court 4: Izzy Carey, Megan Muret def. Morgan Kendrick, Jennifer Laird 21-9, 21-13

Court 5: UCLA Madi Yeomans, Lindsey Sparks def. St. Mary’s Chandler Cowell, Selbie Christensen 21-9, 21-11

 

Pepperdine 3, Hawai’i 2

Court 1: Pepperdine Brook Bauer, Heidi Dyer def. Hawai’i Emily Maglio, Hi’ilawe Huddleston 21-16, 21-15

Court 2: Hawai’i Morgan Martin, Amy Ozee def. Deahna Kraft, Gigi Hernandez 21-15, 21-11

Court 3: Hawai’i Ari Homayun, Julia Scoles def. Pepperdine Skylar Caputo, Jenna Tunnell 21-16, 21-9

Court 4: Pepperdine Maddie Dilfer, Alexis Filippone def. Hawai’i Pani Napoleon, Kylin Loker 21-19, 21-14

Court 5: Pepperdine Katie Gavin, Nikki Lyons def. Hawai’i Regan Hurkett, Presley Forbes 21-18, 21-16

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