Volleyball tested by conference opponents at Leavey Center
THE SANTA CLARA
October 10, 2013
The underclassmen on Santa Clara women’s volleyball team have certainly had an impact on the team so far this season and continued their success last weekend.
The Broncos defeated the University of Portland on Thursday but fell to Gonzaga University two days later.
In their match against the Pilots, the Broncos won in four sets, 23-25, 25-19, 25-17 and 25-23.
Freshman Sabrina Clayton tallied up 14 kills against the Pilots. She has been a consistent scorer for the Broncos so far, totaling 143 kills.
Fellow freshmen Nikki Hess and Mary Shepherd have also had impressive starts to their collegiate athletic careers.
In Thursday’s game, Hess collected 11 of Santa Clara’s 60 kills. Shepherd led the team in both service aces and digs, earning four and 12, respectively.
Besides the freshmen, senior Haley Cameron and junior Taylor Milton also contributed double-digit kills against the Pilots. Cameron had a particularly strong game, hitting .565 with 15 kills.
Following the win, Santa Clara increased their overall record against the Pilots to 48-8 since 1979. Under Head Coach Jon Wallace, Santa Clara is 28-1 against Portland.
Saturday’s contest against Gonzaga proved to be a tough match for Santa Clara. With hard hitting on both sides, the Bulldog’s win did not come with ease. Santa Clara put up a fight with set scores of 21-25, 20-25, 25-19 and 23-25.
Saturday’s game put Santa Clara at 7-7 on the season and 2-3 in the West Coast Conference.
“We really picked up our play which was good,” said Wallace. “It would have been easy to just feel sorry for ourselves (after losing the first two sets), but I think we hung in there mentally very well and we were tough.”
Notable Santa Clara players put in strong performances against Gonzaga. Clayton showed up to play and gave the Bulldogs a run for their money.
The freshman outside hitter led the Broncos with 16 of the team’s 60 kills for the day and later commented on the team’s performance.
“I think our offense did really well, our passing was really good,” said Clayton. “We hit a lot and we hit hard.”
Hess added 12 kills and 13 digs while her teammate Shepherd picked up 18 digs.
Another freshman, Maddie Cannon, started her first collegiate match in place of senior Megan Anders, who was limited by an injured ankle.
“We started a few freshmen today, that helped a lot,” said Wallace. “They’re learning on the job and they’ll get better.”
Despite the solid individual performances, the Broncos did not have enough to take down Gonzaga.
Unlike the Portland game, “we could not get them in any kind of trouble with our serving and their passing,” said Wallace.
The Bulldogs were coming off a win earlier in the week against the University of San Francisco. The team had five players racking up double-digit kill counts.
“Gonzaga applied a lot of pressure all day long,” said Wallace. “The service line and their attackers were taking good swings at the ball every time.”
Santa Clara is now 45-8 against Gonzaga dating back to 1987, with only two losses during Wallace’s time as head coach.
Saturday’s game showed the Santa Clara players and coaches what needs work in the next couple months before the NCAA championships in December.
“We gotta get better,” said Wallace. “We need to dig more balls, put more pressure on teams defensively. We gotta get tougher in the mean time as well, get a little bit more efficient with what we’re doing.”
Clayton added on what the Broncos need to do to stay focused and continue to get better as the season.
“I think we just need to keep pushing throughout the whole game and not let any runs happen and just go all out the whole time and be ready for a fight,” said Clayton.
Santa Clara has a tough schedule in the next week. The team will play Brigham Young University, currently ranked No. 1 in the WCC women’s volleyball standings on Oct. 10, and the University of San Diego on Oct. 12.
“I think if we play like we did (Saturday) and hopefully just get a little bit better, then we’ll be able to win if we come out fighting,” said Clayton.
Contact Sydney Sanchez at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.