MALIBU, Calif. — The #20 Pepperdine women’s volleyball team faces one sole opponent this week, trekking down the coast to challenge PCH Cup rival LMU, a team tied for third in the West Coast Conference standings with the Waves, on Friday.
MATCH #19 — Friday (October 14) at Gersten Pavilion in Los Angeles, Calif.: #20 Pepperdine vs. LMU at 7 pm | Watch: WCC Network
SOCIAL MEDIA — Follow @WavesVolleyball on Twitter for updates and check out PepperdineWaves.com and Facebook (/WavesVolleyball) for releases and more information.
COVERAGE — The match will have live stats and streams available with links to be found on PepperdineWaves.com. All matches will air on the WCC Network.
UP NEXT — Next week, Pepperdine will remain on the road, trekking up North to challenge Portland and Gonzaga on October 20 and 22.
WEEKLY NODS — Four weeks this season, the Waves have tabbed a West Coast Conference player of the week node. Riley Patterson has received the defensive honor and Grace Chillingworth has garnered the offensive recognition twice, while the Waves swept the accolades on week two this season.
2022 weekly honors: Grace Chillingworthoffensive (9/5); Riley Pattersondefensive (9/5); Meg Brownoffensive (9/12); Riley Patterson (9/20); Grace Chillingworthoffensive (10/3).
MORE THAN AN ATHLETE — The Waves have made it a principal standard this season to make mental health a priority among the team. The white jerseys this year sport a green ribbon which denotes support of mental health awareness. Throughout a majority of the games as well, many players will wear green hair ties and bracelets, and even paint their nails, all in support of the mental health awareness initiative and erasing the stigma. The team also has two shirts that sport the phrases ‘More Than an Athlete’ and ‘Be Kind to Your Mind.’
A focus for the team is to live an honest and healthy lifestyle with each other. To practice, the team will have at least one weekly meeting and check-in with the team and coaches where the floor is open. From those check-ins, the team knows who needs to be lifted up throughout the week, who needs to be checked in on and the reasons as to why. Pepperdine women’s volleyball is continuing to attempt to erase the stigma surrounding mental health in athletes.
HEAVY HITTERS, ALL OF ‘EM — In five of the first six matches of the season, the Waves had a different kill leader, showing a strong offensive offering for the season. The story has remained the same throughout the rest of the season as well. Throughout the 18 matches Pepperdine has played, Meg Brown has led the Waves’ attack effort, or tied the match kill-high, on seven separate occasions. Rachel Ahrens, Grace Chillingworth and Emily Hellmuth have each led or tied four times and Avery Shimaitis has accomplished the feat in two matches.
SQUAD GOALS — Pepperdine has gone 14-4 overall this season, opening the West Coast Conference with a 5-2 output. As a team, the Waves produce 13.43 kills/set on a .231 success rate, while also adding 12.67 assists, 1.37 aces, 14.72 digs and 2.43 blocks per set. The squad allows opponents 12.34 kills/set at a .186 clip, along with 11.55 assists, 1.19 aces, 13.84 digs and 2.07 blocks per set.
Four players average more than 2.5 kills/set each match: Meg Brown (2.82), Emily Hellmuth (2.77), Rachel Ahrens (2.68) and Grace Chillingworth (2.67). Brown leads the team with 189 total kills on an impressive .362 hitting percentage. She also adds 0.30 aces and 0.91 blocks per set. Chillingworth leads the team with 25 total aces, marking 0.37 aces/set, while adding 2.30 digs and 0.60 blocks per set. Vanessa Polk has a team-best 1.25 blocks/set after leading the team with 76 total blocks including 13 solo rejections.
Isabel Zelaya serves as the primary playmaker with 10.14 assists/set and 669 total assists this season. She adds 1.95 digs/set as well. Riley Patterson holds down the back row with 4.24 digs/set after having marked 284 digs so far this season. Kayleigh Hames and Trinity Stanger also help the cause with 2.32 and 2.00 digs/set.
HOME SWEET HOME LAST WEEK — Pepperdine won both matches in Malibu last week, sweeping past Pacific and taking down Saint Mary’s in four. In the opener against the Tigers, the Waves marked 25-14, 25-17 and 25-19 set wins for the victory, tabbing 45 kills on a .327 success rate, while giving up only 32 kills on a .120 clip. Pepperdine also led the match with 5.5 blocks, six aces and 47 digs, while allowing 2.0 blocks, three aces and 42 digs to the opposition. Meg Brown commanded the net offensively, tabbing 12 kills on 18 errorless swings for a career-high .667 hitting percentage, while leading the Waves with four blocks alongside Isabel Zelaya. Zelaya also tabbed 33 assists in the effort, while dishing it out for four Waves to mark eight kills or more throughout. Riley Patterson had a team-best 12 digs and Rachel Ahrens led with three aces.
In the final matchup against Saint Mary’s, Pepperdine collected the win with 25-17, 25-19, 19-25 and 25-14 set scores. The squad produced 56 kills on a .303 hitting percentage, while allowing 38 kills on a .164 output. Although each side of the net amassed 7.0 block effort, the Waves led in all other categories after posting 12 aces and 63 digs to the opposition’s six aces and 38 digs. Brown led the effort once again, this time along with Emily Hellmuth, after each putting in 12 kills. Brown did so on a .400 clip with two aces as well. Grace Chillingworth produced an additional 10 kills on a .409 success rate, while leading the team ace effort with Zelaya with three aces. Zelaya led with 3 assists, while Rosemary Archer also put in 12 assists. Patterson posted her 16th career match with double-digit digs and her fifth with over 20 after marking 21 digs, while Kayleigh Hames added 11 digs and two aces as well.
THE COMPETITION — Pepperdine holds a 62-24 all-time record against LMU since 1976. The Waves won the first-ever matchup that year with a 3-0 victory on the road. From 1984-91, Pepperdine went 17-1 against LMU during that time, while going on another 12-match winning streak from 2006-12. In recent years, the Waves have posted eight-straight victories, including a pair of wins last season – a 3-2 win in Malibu and a sweep in LA.
This season, the Lions have gone 10-6 overall and 5-2 against WCC opponents this season. The Lions highlighted their season with a 3-0 sweep over #22 UCLA in early September and the squad took #4 San Diego to five sets at the end of the month as well. Last week, the Lions swept both Saint Mary’s and Pacific at home.
MILESTONES & RECORD WATCH — Rachel Ahrens tops the career record books for Pepperdine in aces and aces/set already after four complete years as a Wave. She has amassed 166 aces in 430 sets and 0.39 aces/set throughout her career. Ahrens also currently ranks 5th in career kills with 1,548. Nicole Sanderson leads the category with 2,028 kills in 431 sets from 1994-97, while these Waves fill in the following three spots: Julie Evans (84-87) with 1,955 kills in 425 sets, Julie Rubenstein (05-08) with 1,743 kills in 423 sets and Katie Wilkins (00-03) with 1,672 kills in 368 sets.
Ahrens also ranks 4th with 3,779 total attempts, 5th with 1,847.5 points and 7th with 4.29 points/set and 3.60 kills/set. Isabel Zelaya has been climbing the record books at Pepperdine as well, ranking 6th with 10.47 assists/set and 7th with 3,591 total assists.
Ahrens also stands out in the single-season rally scoring era record books, having topped the service aces category with 51 aces in 105 sets in 2021 and 49 aces in 113 sets in 2019. She ranks 2nd, 3rd and 4th with 0.49, 0.44 and 0.43 aces in 2021, 2020 and 2019 respectively. She ranked 3rd with 513 kills and 4.89 kills/set in 2021 and 5th with 4.42 kills/set in 2020. She also ranked 3rd with 591.0 points in 2021, 2nd with 5.63 points/set in 2021 and 6th with 5.13 points/set in 2020 Zelaya ranked 10th with 11.19 assists/set and 1,144 total assists as well.
Ahrens is also the only Wave to have cracked 30 kills since 2008 last season, collecting 30 kills against Saint Mary’s which ranks 3rd in the single-match kills/set records. The Waves have only accomplished that feat three times throughout the program’s history as well.