Pepperdine: Brook Bauer, Heidi Dyer

Pepperdine’s Brook Bauer, Heidi Dyer Thriving In Last-second Partnership

Brooke Bauer-Heidi Dyer-Pepperdine beach volleyball

Nina Matthies knew, just knew, in that inexplicably prescient way coaches often do, from the moment she saw Brook Bauer that “I wanted that kid.”

Bauer had come to a Pepperdine camp with Nikki Lyons, a teammate at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, an athletic powerhouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Matthies saw the way Bauer moved and played and acted and figured she was older.

“She just blew my doors off,” Matthies, Pepperdine’s Hall of Fame coach recalled of Bauer, who was then only a freshman. “She was just a complete player at that point in time, just very smooth and worked and didn’t say a peep. And I was like ‘Wow this kid is good.’”

Lyons had already committed to Pepperdine, making her both a promising prospect for the Waves and someone who could aid Matthies in Bauer’s recruitment.

Four years later, Matthies had her kid. And Bauer, in just one season and a handful of matches in 2019, has likely exceeded whatever lofty expectations Matthies may have initially had. As a freshman, Bauer became the first Wave to win West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year. Second-team All-American. Twenty-three wins to just seven losses, rotating between the one and two position with Maddy Roh.

It was one of the easiest partnerships for the Pepperdine coaches to maintain for the 2019 season until it wasn’t. In a pre-season practice, Roh, an explosive and dynamic blocker, tore her ACL. Out for the season. And thus the scrambling began, putting new blockers with new defenders on different courts.

Even Heidi Dyer was surprised when she got the call.

“When they put me with Brook I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I do not deserve to be with her. What the heck is going on?’” Dyer said, laughing. “It’s been so fun. I love it. She’s a baller.”

Brook Bauer-Heidi Dyer-Pepperdine

As is Dyer, one of the rare two-sport athletes on the beach team, flipping from indoor to beach and back again. In 2016, she started all 30 matches in the gym before playing court one for Matthies during her first season on the beach.

“I feel like I make pretty big jumps when the season starts because I start off so bad and I’m one of the worst players on our team and I’m like ‘What’s a cut shot? I don’t know!’ It’s that bad,” Dyer said. “That’s literally how I show up from indoor at the beginning of the season and I think it’s cool to move up slowly each week.”

She has an endearing humility, Dyer. While she claims to be one of the worst on the team in February, accepting the long and slow climb back to feeling comfortable on the sand, thus far in 2019 it has looked much the opposite. In Hawai’i for the Duke Kahanamoku Beach Classic, Dyer and Bauer went 3-1, beating formidable court one pairs from St. Mary’s, Stanford and Hawai’i while putting on a heck of a show against UCLA’s Nicole and Megan McNamara.

Had it not been for a swing that went an inch long – it was similar in proximity to Taylor Crabb’s at this past Manhattan Beach Open, with an identical score – in the second set, and a savvy cover from Nicole McNamara in the third, they’d still be undefeated.

Such is volleyball. And such is volleyball especially on court one, where Dyer and Bauer, in spite of the pre-season scramble, in spite of Dyer’s insistence she knows not what a cut shot is, have settled in.

“When Maddy Roh got hurt, me and Heidi got put together and we just took it and ran with it,” Bauer said. “I never had a feeling at all of uncertainty. We were both all in and had good attitudes and at practice we prioritize having fun and that’s a big part of the game too. Heidi is a really good blocker and she makes really good moves and it’s really easy to play defense behind her and that makes it really fun.”

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