Summer Ross to Play on Sand at Pepperdine

Jan. 19, 2012, 6:14 p.m. (ET)

USAV Beach Contact: B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: (719) 228-6800

Release Courtesy of Pepperdine University

MALIBU, Calif. (Jan. 19, 2012) – Summer Ross, a two-time world champion and the USA Volleyball Female Beach Athlete of the Year for 2010, will play sand volleyball at Pepperdine University, the school announced on Thursday.

Pepperdine women’s sand volleyball coach Nina Matthies announced the addition Ross (Carlsbad, Calif.) – one of the sport’s most highly touted junior athletes – to its 2012 roster. Ross transferred to Pepperdine after spending a semester playing indoor volleyball at Washington.

Ross established herself as one of the best junior sand volleyball players during the 2010 season, becoming the first athlete, male or female, to win both the FIVB Youth World Championships and the FIVB Junior World Championships in the same year.

Ross won the prestigious titles with two different partners. Ross teamed up with Jane Croson to take home the gold medal at the 2010 FIVB Youth World Championships on July 29-Aug. 1 in Porto, Portugal. The pair went a perfect 7-0 to become the first U.S. women’s team to medal in the event.

Ross then teamed up with Tara Roenicke at the Junior World Championships on Sept. 16-19 in Alanya, Turkey. The duo became the United States’ first medalists in the event after winning seven-consecutive matches.

She was subsequently named the 2010 USAV Female Beach Athlete of the Year, becoming the first junior player to ever be graced with the award.

During the previous season, Ross and Jazmin Machado placed fifth at the 2009 Junior World Championships, while Ross and Croson finished in fifth place at the Youth World Championships.

In the national circuit, Ross and Natalie Hagglund, ages 16 and 17 respectively at the time, became the youngest team to ever qualify for an AVP main draw when they did so at the Manhattan Beach Open on July 17, 2009. The pair finished 24th overall.

In 2008, Ross and Croson, just 15 at the time, became the youngest team to ever compete at the FIVB Junior World Championships and placed ninth.

Ross had a solid rookie season while playing indoor volleyball for the Huskies in 2011. She averaged 1.56 kills, 2.23 digs and 1.07 blocks while leading Washington to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Ross’ older brother, Chase, is currently a senior outside hitter for the Pepperdine men’s volleyball team.

In addition to Ross, Caitlin Racich (Santa Barbara, Calif.) will be playing in the sand for the Waves. The remainder of the 2012 roster will be announced soon, and will include several members of the 2011 indoor volleyball team that reached the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament last fall.

Pepperdine announced the addition of sand volleyball last fall, and is one of around 20 institutions to sponsor the sport in its first season as an NCAA sport. The Waves open the inaugural season in March, and will compete in hopes of making it to the AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball Championships in Gulf Shores, Alabama on April 27-29.

The Huskies opted not to sponsor sand volleyball during sport’s infancy, which contributed to Ross’ decision to transfer.

“Playing indoor volleyball at Washington was an honor, and I am so grateful to my coaches, teammates and fantastic fans in Seattle, but I had to listen to my heart,” Ross said. “I knew I had to get back on the beach.

“I’m not completely closing the door on indoor volleyball,” Ross said. “But it will be the inaugural year for sand volleyball at the Division I level, and I wanted to contribute to the sport’s growth and success.

“I am excited to play sand (volleyball) at Pepperdine because it is a Christian school with experienced and knowledgeable beach coaches.”

Nina Matthies, along with Marcio Sicoli, will be coaching the Waves’ sand volleyball team. Matthies, who just finished her 29th year as the head coach for the indoor squad, was recognized as one of the top beach players in the world before she retired in 1992. An inductee into both the Women’s Professional Volleyball Association Hall of Fame and the Manhattan Beach Volleyball Walk of Fame, Matthies won 43 titles and had 93 podium finishes in 139 career beach appearances.

Assisting Matthies is Sicoli, who also boasts an impressive resume. He coached Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor while the duo competed in the 2011 FIVB circuit in their preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He has also tutored several other beach standouts including Holly McPeak, Tatiana Minello, Semirames Marins, Casey Jennings and Matt Fuerbringer.