Photos by Terra Atwood
New season, new faces, new goals.
Pepperdine women’s volleyball brings another new and exciting season to Firestone Fieldhouse this year. After finishing the season with an overall record of 17-14, going 8-10 in the West Coast Conference (good for 6th in the standings), Head Coach Scott Wong looks to continue an upward trend of overall team improvement.
“I was really happy with how things went last season,” said Wong, who is entering his second full season as the head coach for the Waves. “I saw a lot of improvement from the team throughout last year and they have put in a lot of work this offseason to improve.”
Looking at the roster breakdown, the Waves will open the 2016 season with five returning starters, nine letter-winners and seven new faces. With the departures of seniors Lara Dykstra, Olivia Okoro and Becca Strehlow to graduation, Pepperdine will look to returning seniors Gaby Palmeri and Brooke Honeycutt as well as sophomores Tarah Wylie, Heidi Dyer and Nikki Lyons to lead the team this season. For Palmeri and Honeycutt, it will be their fourth season in a Waves uniform. Palmeri averaged 1.82 kills/set through 92 sets while Honeycutt notched 1.47 kills/set in 87 sets played.
With the veterans leading the way, second-year players Wylie, Dyer and Lyons will see increased expectations to carry the Waves after strong rookie performances. Wylie garnered the WCC Freshman of the Year award after a phenomenal season where she led the team with 1.10 blocks/set and posted 2.54 kills/set on a .332 attack percentage. She was named to the WCC All-Freshman team alongside Dyer, who also put up fantastic numbers for the Waves last season. Dyer led the team with 1,067 attack attempts, landing 2.62 kills/set and also averaged 2.13 digs/set in 113 total matches. Lyons was also a big part of the Waves offense, leading the team with 313 total kills on a team-high 2.87 kills/set.
“I think it will be great to have a nice blend of veterans and fresh faces on the team this year,” said Dyer, who hopes to have another prolific season. “Under [Head] Coach Wong, this team has the talent and skills to compete for a top seed in the WCC.”
Alongside the returning players, the Waves will see many new faces joining the team this season. Junior transfers Maddie Dilfer from Notre Dame and Ashley Harris from Arizona will look to adjust to life in Malibu while five freshmen (Jasmine Gross, Jaiden Farr, Hannah Frohling, Hana Lishman and Taylor Akason) will look to make immediate impacts in their first season in a Waves uniform.
For the new freshmen joining the team, none of them are strangers to success based on their impressive high school careers. Gross earned AVCA UnderArmour All-American second team honors and was named to the PrepVolleyball All-American, OSSAA All-State and Metro League first teams. Farr was named the Utah Gatorade Player of the Year last season and also garnered UnderArmour All-American honorable mention and MaxPreps Small School All-American first team honors. As for Frohling, she was the named the Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year and Central Oklahoma Player of the Year last year.
“These new faces for us will definitely add a lot of depth for our team and after seeing a breakout season for three of our first-year players last year, it’s really promising for us,” said Head Coach Scott Wong. “These young women are ready to prove themselves and I cannot wait to see how they all grow this season.”
With high hopes, new goals and a hungry spirit, the 2016 Pepperdine women’s volleyball team is ready for action.
Pepperdine women’s volleyball kicks off the 2016 campaign as the hosts of the 19th Asics Classic this weekend, hosting Rhode Island, Lipscomb and Cal State Northridge on Friday, Aug. 26 and Saturday, Aug. 27 at Firestone Fieldhouse.
Follow Arthur Puu on Twitter: @arthurpuu