Broncos beat Pepperdine in straight sets but lose heartbreaker to LMU
THE SANTA CLARA
October 22, 2015
The red hot volleyball team’s six game winning streak came to an end in Southern California this past weekend.
The Broncos went 1-1 as they played Pepperdine University and Loyola Marymount University.
“Our expectations going into last weekend were to go 2-0 against a tough pair of opponents. That’s based on a great week of practice,” said Head Coach Jon Wallace. “The girls were energized and extremely focused. We improved a lot and were in a really good spot going into the weekend.”
Santa Clara, 15-5 overall and 6-2 in conference, is chasing conference leaders San Diego and BYU, both 7-1.
“(Against Pepperdine) we were clicking, playing as a team and having fun,” said junior Nikki Hess. “That’s when we’re at our best. Against LMU, we started strong and they were playing great the whole time. We have a few things that we need to work on in practice, but overall, I felt it was a great weekend.”
In Malibu, the Broncos beat the Waves in three quick sets, going 25-15, 25-18 and 25-22. The Broncos posted 43 total kills throughout the match, compared to Pepperdine’s 33. For those who don’t know volleyball jargon, a kill is the scoring of a point in an attack play – often by a spike.
“Our strengths in the Pepperdine match were the basic strengths of our team,” Coach Wallace said. “We served extremely well, passed well and played relentlessly on defense.”
The first set was neck and neck up to 11-11. The Broncos then went on a tear, scoring nearly seven unanswered points. In the second set, it was much of the same as the team took off running about midway through. Santa Clara capitalized on their strong offense, dominating with kills. Pepperdine played hard, but only scored 18 points.
Throughout the third and final set, the Broncos were on their toes. At 22-21, the set could have gone either way. But Nikki Hess came up clutch with two kills for a couple of quick points. Likewise, Anna McCreadie and Jensen Cunningham blocked an attack from the Waves to secure the win. Hess, a junior outside hitter, was a key player for Santa Clara with 34 total kills over the weekend.
“Our offense really clicked. That has been a theme – our defense and passing has been good all year – but we’ve been working on our offense and I think that’s the best it has been this season,” Hess said.
On Saturday the Broncos traveled to Gersten Pavilion to face LMU.
The nearly three-hour match started with two set wins for Santa Clara, one after the other.
They came out strong, winning 25-23 and 29-27. Like the Pepperdine game, each set was a true battle.
The second set went long, ending in a final kill by Sabrina Clayton for the Broncos. The Lions, however, picked up their momentum, winning the next three consecutive sets.
The sets ended as follows: 25-20, 25-22 and 15-9 in the tiebreaker.
“Our strengths were the same against LMU,” Wallace said. “We out served and out passed them. Their defense was a little bit better than ours, and more importantly, their offense was a little bit better than ours. That’s where we lost the match, they were hitting extremely well.”
LMU’s diverse bench delivered, as four different players scored 15 points or more with one scoring a total of 25.5 points. The Lions also performed on defense, posting 84 total digs.
On the Broncos side, senior Danielle Rottman tallied 28 digs on defense, giving the team more chances at scoring.
As a whole, the team posted 11 block assists, and totaled 67 digs.
“I’m very pleased with the effort. Even in the loss, our girls played with a ton of grit and competed all the way through,” Wallace said.
Sophomore Kirsten Mead also had an outstanding game for the Broncos racking up 51 out of the 57 total assists. Overall, Santa Clara had fewer slip-ups than the Lions.
“I don’t think there was a specific turning point,” Hess said. “They played great volleyball the whole match and had a couple of runs in the last three sets that gave them the edge.”
Needless to say, the team is excited for another shot at the Lions in November.
Coach Wallace stressed the need to work on player specific items.
“We’re going to work on right-front blocking with Anna McCreadie and Kirsten Mead,” Wallace said. “We’re (also) going to get better at some of our setter-hitter connections behind the setter for when we back set to Anna or Jensen Cunningham.”
This upcoming Thursday, the Broncos host Pacific and Saturday they host Saint Mary’s University. Earlier this year they swept Saint Mary’s, but have yet to see Pacific in action. Even so, the team is hopeful for what lies ahead.
“We’ll spend the rest of the time diving into the scouting report on Pacific, playing defense against their mock offense to get more comfortable with that they like to do.”
Contact Jack Price at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.