The WCC Title is on the Line as Volleyball hosts LMU, Pepperdine
Nov. 14, 2000
This Week The 15th-ranked Santa Clara volleyball (24-3) team closes out the home and West Coast conference seasons with a chance to take the league title as ranked opponent Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine visit Pat Malley Center this weekend.
The Race for the WCC Crown Heading into the final weekend of conference play, Santa Clara and Pepperdine are tied for first place, each at 11-1 in the WCC. Both teams can claim at least a share of the conference title, but the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament is another matter. Regardless of how it does on Friday night, Pepperdine would clinch the bid with a Saturday night victory, by virtue of sweeping the season series. Santa Clara must win on Friday against LMU to guarantee itself the bid with a Saturday win and avoid a tiebreaking situation. Loyola Marymount can play the role of spoiler for Santa Clara as the Lions already have clinched third place in the WCC. Santa Clara was picked by league coaches to finish third in a preseason poll.
Three Straight 20-Win Seasons Santa Clara's victory over Saint Mary's on Nov. 12 gave the team its 24th of the season, surpassing last year's total and--with three matches left on the schedule--is two victories away from matching the program's best mark for wins in a season, set by the 1991 squad. The Broncos have subsequently put together three straight 20-win seasons for the first time since 1991-93. Additionally, Santa Clara the first team in WCC history to improve its season victory total in six consecutive seasons. This year's record also marks the seventh time in the program's history that a team has won at least 20 matches in a season. The Broncos' win over Saint Mary's on Oct. 20 guaranteed its fifth-straight regular season win record and 14th overall since 1975.
Nationally Speaking Santa Clara continues to lead the nation in team kills, averaging 19.49 per game, and team assist average, with an 18.02 mark. Individually, senior Roz Pelayo is third nationally in assist average, with a 14.68 mark, while senior Ynez Carrasco is ranked tied for 15th in digs (4.18 pg).
The Opponents Loyola Marymount is 19-7 on the season. The Lions' Sarah McFarland leads the nation with 7.74 kills per game, but the entire team's offense has been on fire of late, hitting for .459 against Portland and .436 against Gonzaga last week. Its defense is just as tough, as LMU leads the conference with 2.94 blocks per game. Santa Clara swept LMU earlier in the season, but the Lions still hold a 25-14 all-time series edge. Pepperdine, the 1999 WCC Champion, is 22-5 overall and tied with Santa Clara for first place in this year's WCC race at 11-1. Pepperdine has won each of the last three meetings in five games, and holds the series' edge 25-12.
In the Rankings Santa Clara moved up one spot to 15th, tying a season-high set three weeks ago, marking the program's highest ever national ranking. On Sept. 11, the Broncos entered the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Poll for the first time in seven years, ranked 21st in the poll's second edition. The Broncos haven't been ranked since the 1993 squad went 22-10 and reached the NCAA Tournament. Santa Clara was ranked for seven straight weeks that season, peaking at No. 19 for three weeks. The Broncos are also ranked 16th in Volleyball Magazine's Poll for the second consecutive poll.
Santa Clara's schedule features seven ranked opponents over nine matches. Remaining on the schedule are this weekend's matches against WCC foes Pepperdine, ranked 12th, and Loyola Marymount, ranked 22nd. The Broncos will also face 21st-ranked Stanford in a non-conference match Nov. 21 to close out the regular season.
A Change of Scenery Due to reconstruction of the Leavey Event Center, Santa Clara volleyball will play its home season in the newly-built Pat Malley Fitness & Recreation Center. The Broncos play 21 of 30 matches on the road, and completed a 15-match road swing before returning for the home opener Oct. 8, a 3-0 defeat of George Mason.
Breaking NCAA Records Santa Clara is on pace to break two NCAA season records. The Broncos are averaging 19.49 kills per game to lead the nation, and will top Colorado's mark of 19.01 set in 1998. Additionally, that same Buffalo team posted 17.45 assists per game, a statistic Santa Clara will claim if it can keep up its 18.02 per game mark. Individually, senior setter Roz Pelayo is averaging 14.00 assists per game for her career, which will be an NCAA record when she graduates.
Into the Recordbooks Senior outside hitter Ynez Carrasco's 19th and final kill in a sweep of San Diego on Oct. 14 gave her 1,497 in three-plus seasons, surpassing Lia Young's career mark of 1,496 set in 1990-93. She currently has 1,628. She is also one of the Broncos' all-time top defensive players, and with 1,196 career digs, she is now fifth on the charts, surpassing Kris Kosnoski's 1990-93 mark of 1,143. Passing the 1,000-dig mark last month, Carrasco is only the fourth Bronco to post 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career. But she's not the only senior rewriting the school's recordbooks. Earlier in the season, setter Roz Pelayo became Santa Clara's all-time assist leader, breaking Kris Kosnoski's record of 4,421 (1990-93). She surpassed the 5,000 mark and currently has 5,434. Last week, she set the career assist mark for the WCC, breaking Tracy Holman's 1994-97 record from LMU of 5,362. Amy Kohl is fifth in career kills, becoming only the fifth player in Santa Clara history to pass 1,000 career kills. She currently has 1,209. Kohl and right side hitter Annika Dell are top six in hitting percentage. Dell also made the top-10 career block average, entering the season with a 0.78 mark.
A Look Ahead The NCAA selection show will air Sunday, Nov. 26. The Broncos will be seeking their third straight berth into the Championship and fifth overall.