Pepperdine Waves men’s volleyball player Spencer Wickens received one of college volleyball’s highest honors last month.
Wickens, an outsider hitter, was named the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week on March 30.
The 22-year-old senior was excited about the recognition.
“It’s something I never expected to win coming into college because of the level of play and all the tremendous athletes across the nation,” he said. “Winning it is a very nice surprise.”
Wickens was named player of the week days after he hit .500 and averaged a team-best 3.82 kills per set in Pepperdine’s three wins over Grand Canyon from March 26-28. Wickens also had 12 assists and a pair of block assists.
“It was some of the best playing I have ever done,” Wickens said. “It’s cool that I was able to play well for the team, and we were successful together.”
Wickens was also named the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season, while freshman Bryce Dvorak was named the federation’s defensive player of the week. Dvorak averaged 2.18 digs, a team high, and 0.64 blocks a set in the wins over Grand Canyon. He had 17 digs in the second match, tied for second-most by a MPSF player in a match this season.
Wickens is the second Wave to win the national player of the week honor this season. Austin Wilmot won the award on March 16.
Wickens, who averages 3.17 kills and 1.74 digs per set while hitting .338, said being named player of the week is a confidence boost.
“It’s nice to know that my coaches and teammates believe in me,” said Wickens, who is 5-foot-11. “They have all the time, but individually this builds my confidence in myself. Knowing that I can swing up there with the big guys, all the 6-foot-8 guys, and just compete with anyone across the net.”
Wickens said the ball often gets over him by towering opponents, but he counters that using his speed or by knocking the ball around opponents’ out-stretched arms.
“I know I can’t go into a shot 50 percent. I have to commit to it 100 percent and really give it a go if I want to get it around these guys,” he said.
Wickens was successful against Grand Canyon because he and freshman setter Bryce Dvorak were playing in rhythm.
“He put me in some great situations to score,” Wickens said. “In the last match, we ran the back attack very well and that’s attributable to our middle blockers—Austin Wilmot and Andersen Fuller. They made things much easier on me.”
Wickens previously played libero for the Waves. Last spring, before the volleyball season ended because of the pandemic, Pepperdine lost a few outside hitters to injury. In response, Waves’ head coach David Hunt moved Wickens from the defensive position to outside hitter, an offensive one.
Wickens’ success on offense made the position change permanent. The player said the change in his role was another way for him to contribute to his team.
“I was all for it,” Wickens said.
The Waves have an 11-5 record heading into an April 9 contest at Stanford. The team’s first team wins of the season were over Concordia. Pepperdine also has a trio of wins over Stanford, two wins over USC and a victory over UCLA.
The Waves are ranked fourth in the nation. Wickens said he and his teammates want to get better each day.
“If you have a lot of guys like that, it is a recipe for success,” he said.