Volleyball

 
January 30, 2002

A Season to Remember

Jan. 30, 2002

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A Season Ended
Santa Clara University (19-10) ended its season with a five-game defeat in the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season, this year to San Jose State in the first round of the 2001 Championship, held at Stanford. The postseason berth marked the fourth straight appearance for the Bronco program.

Live on the Internet
This season, Santa Clara's entire home schedule could be followed online with a live statistical tracker at the department's official athletic website, www.SantaClaraBroncos.com. By logging on, fans received real-time updated statistics direct from the official scoring computer.

Bronco NCAA Tournament History
The Broncos earned one of 33 at-large berths after placing second in the West Coast Conference standings. Santa Clara, 2-6 all-time in the NCAA Championships, made the program's sixth appearance in the postseason and fourth straight. The Broncos advanced to the second round in 1999 and 2000.

The Rest of the Field
Of the 64 teams selected, 13 were from the West Coast with NCAA Champion Stanford and San Jose State joining SCU as the three Bay Area teams selected. Additionally, WCC opponents Pepperdine and San Diego were placed in the draw, with the Waves advancing to the Sweet 16. Santa Clara faced 13 of the 64 teams selected by the NCAA and went 6-7 in those matches, although five of those losses went to the top nine teams in the tournament.

Nationally Speaking
Santa Clara finished the season ranked 18th nationally in assists (15.21), 21st in kills (16.65) and 23rd in digs, averaging 17.68 per game. Individually, sophomore setter Kelli Sousa ranked seventh in the NCAA in assists, with a 13.67 per-game average.

Broncos Finish Second in WCC Race
Although Pepperdine clinched the conference title two weeks before the season ended, the race for second place went on through the final serve. Despite being picked by league coaches to finish third in the league with San Diego, Santa Clara followed its 2000 league title with a second-place showing this season, finishing ahead of LMU and USD in the final standings with an 11-3 record. It marked the fourth straight year the Broncos finished in the top three.

In the WCC Statistics
Santa Clara led the conference in digs (17.68 per game) while ranking second in kills (16.65) and assists (15.21). Individually, Jami Bari placed second in digs (3.62) while Merrin Thompson was fourth (3.23). Kelli Sousa was second in assists (13.67) and Becky Potter ranked fourth in kills (4.01) while Toni Muratore was sixth (3.87 pg). Counting only league matches, Santa Clara finished first in service aces (1.95), behind Bari's .39 average.

NCAA First Round Recap
Spartan Liz Hudson set a San Jose State school record for block assists in a season on match point as San Jose State advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament by defeating Santa Clara, 17-30, 30-25, 24-30, 30-25, 16-14, Nov. 30 at Maples Pavilion in Stanford.

San Jose State led 10-9 in game one on a kill but allowed Santa Clara to go on a 14-5 run to lead the game 23-15. The Spartans did not get any closer than seven the rest of the frame. The Spartans outblocked Santa Clara 4-1 and hit .555 to rally for a game two victory. Despite seven service errors in the game, San Jose State got five kills from Stephanie Pascucci and four each from Kimberly Noble and Brianna Blair.

Both teams battled back and forth in game three. SJSU had a 17-14 lead, but Santa Clara scored the next six points off Jami Bari kills and Spartan errors to take a 20-17 lead in the game and a 2-1 lead in the match. In game four, the squads were tied at nine before SJSU went on a 12-2 run at 21-11. SJSU led 23-12 before three Bari kills helped Santa Clara use a 9-1 run to cut the Spartan lead to 24-21. Four Pascucci kills and a Blair kill put the game away for the Spartans.

In the deciding game, Santa Clara held leads at 3-1 and 9-6, but San Jose State battled behind the hitting of Pascucci. Match point saw Hudson and Blair recorded the Spartans 14th block of the evening for the win.

In the Rankings
With its season-ending loss to San Jose State, the Broncos fell out of the USA Today/AVCA poll in the final ranking of the year. It ended a streak of 28 straight appearance in the national rankings. The Broncos began the season ranked 22nd, marking the first-ever preseason listing for the program. Santa Clara's highest ranking came last November at No. 14. The only other season in which the Broncos were ranked nationally occurred in 1993 for seven consecutive weeks. Additionally, the Broncos debuted at No. 16 in Volleyball Magazine poll midway through the season but finished the season unranked.

Bari Reaches Career Milestone
With her sixth kill in game one against Idaho on November 23, senior outside hitter Jami Bari reached a milestone that only four other Broncos have scaled in the history of SCU volleyball: the 1,000-kill, 1,000-dig club. She reached the defensive marker two weeks prior against Pepperdine. She finished her career with 1,008 kills and 1,043 digs.

Broncos Name Five to All-WCC Team
Middle blockers Becky Potter and Toni Muratore were named first-team All-West Coast Conference, while Jami Bari, Kelli Sousa and Chrissy Hirsch received honorable mention honors. Potter earned honorable mention recognition last season as the league's Freshman of the Year while Bari earned her second straight honorable mention recognition.

Broncos Take UC Santa Barbara for First Time in 17 Years
Four Broncos posted double-digit kills to lead 24th-ranked Santa Clara to a straight-set victory over No. 13 UC Santa Barbara at the SCU Invitational. The match marked only the first victory for the Broncos over the Gauchos since the 1984 season, and second overall in 17 meetings. Defense played an even bigger role than the offensive firepower the Broncos displayed. Becky Potter and Jami Bari each posted 15 digs as SCU outdug the Gauchos 84-56 leading the visitors to a .070 hitting percentage. Also reaching double figures for the Broncos were Cindy Hirsch with 13 and Chrissy Hirsch and Merrin Thompson, each with 11 digs.

San Diego Snaps Two-Year Streak
Santa Clara's loss to San Diego to open league play marked its first loss to an unranked opponent in its last 53 matches. The last time SCU fell to an unranked foe dated back to the 1999 season, an Oct. 23 loss to WCC rival Loyola Marymount in four games.

Bari Twice Named WCC Player of the Week
Jami Bari was named the West Coast Conference's Player of the Week for November 26 after registering her 1,000th career kill in the first game against Idaho. Although the Broncos fell to the Vandals, Bari posted her 13th double-double of the season with 14 kills and 11 digs. The recognition marks the second for Bari this season, as she was honored by the league September 9 after posting 50 kills-a 4.17 per-game mark-and 42 digs to lead the volleyball team to the SCU Invitational title. She registered a double-double in each of the matches, including a career-high 20 kills and a .405 hitting percentage against Creighton. She was a key player in the Broncos' upset over then-ranked No. 13 UC Santa Barbara later that night, contributing 12 kills and 15 digs. She earned the tournament's MVP honors after adding an 18-kill, 14-dig performance against North Carolina.

Potter Named WCC Player of the Week
Becky Potter was named the WCC's Player of the Week for October 8 for her play against No. 4 Stanford and two league opponents. She recorded 45 kills (5 per game). In the Broncos' three matches, Potter hit .323, served up five aces, and had 24 digs (2.67 pg). Against Gonzaga, Potter totaled 17 kills and 12 digs. Against Stanford, she led the SCU attack with 18 kills.

Muratore Named WCC Co-Player of the Week
Toni Muratore was named the WCC's Co-Volleyball Player of the Week for October 15 for her play against league rivals Loyola Marymount and No. 15th Pepperdine. Muratore downed 33 kills in two matches, hitting an impressive .507. She had only four errors in 58 attempts, including 18 kills against Pepperdine. At LMU, she totaled 15 kills and hit .542. Defensively, Muratore added two blocks in each of the contests.

A Change of Scenery
After spending the past season playing its home matches at the nearby Pat Malley Fitness & Recreation Center, the volleyball program returned to its home of 25 years, the Leavey Center. Formerly known as Harold J. Toso Pavilion, Leavey is in the second phase of a two-year reconstruction effort that is transforming the building into one of the finest sports venues of its size on the West Coast.

Began in March, the second phase of the Leavey Center will cost an estimated $14 million and will include a complete reconstruction of the east side of the building. Included will be athletic department offices, weight room, academic center, team room, press center, video control room, new upper level seating and a suite that overlooks the court-a 43,000-square-foot addition spanning four stories of the University's 25-year-old sports complex.

The seating capacity for the building was reduced to 2,400 during the 2001 volleyball season while construction remained in progress. A joint effort between project contractor Devcon Construction and architect Ellerbe Becket provided a four-story wall that allowed competition and day-to-day operations to continue during construction. The seating phase of construction was completed last month, and the building now accommodate more than 4,500 fans for a Bronco athletic event. Phase II is scheduled for completion in April 2002.

The first phase, which was highlighted by the removal of the famous "bubble" roof in April 2000, required SCU coaches and administrators to move into temporary quarters. At the completion of $11.75 million Phase I renovation in January, Leavey had a new roof surrounded by spectacular 23-foot glass walls, a new floor, new bleachers and a new suspended scoreboard.

Freshmen Dominated Middle Blocking Positions
When Santa Clara graduated middle blockers Amy Kohl and Brooke Terhune in 2000, questions were raised in how strong this position could be this season. The team found the answer early in newcomers Toni Muratore and Christina Vick, as well as sophomore Becky Biniek. Muratore led the team with 368 kills, and also boasted a 3.87 per-game average. Vick entered matches and provided solid support, and finished with a .266 hitting percentage.

Head Coach Jon Wallace
After leading his team to the program's best season record (27-5), highest national ranking (No. 14) and the second round of the NCAA Tournament, second-year head coach Jon Wallace (UC Santa Barbara '89) was named the WCC's 2000 Coach of the Year. Now done with his third season, he has a career mark of 67-26 (.720). On Oct. 7, 2000, Wallace earned his 35th career win against USF, becoming the fastest coach in WCC history to reach that plateau. In 1999, Wallace led his team to its best record in six seasons and its first trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Prior to Santa Clara, he spent seven seasons as an assistant coach at Pepperdine. A three-year starting setter at UC Santa Barbara, Wallace directed the Gauchos to the NCAA Tournament title match in 1988.

Major Rules Changes Took Effect in 2001
Collegiate volleyball saw some changes this past season as rally scoring for all games and the let serve were introduced. All games were played to 30 points except for the fifth game which was played to 15. Additionally, a served ball remained in play if it hits the net and continued its path to the opposition's court and remained in bounds. Although Santa Clara did not take part, some matches also used an experimental international pursuit rule. The rule allowed for players to retrieve a ball that has crossed the plane of the net to the opponent's free space, provided the player didn't touch the opponent's court and sent the ball back to their court.

Fall Signings
During the early signing period, Santa Clara inked two high school seniors to National Letters of Intent. Cassie Perret of Menlo Park, and Kimberly McGiven of Encinitas will be part of the Bronco class of 2006. Perret, a 6-1 outside hitter from Woodside Priory, led her prep team to the Division 5 State Championship in 2000 where she earned Finals MVP honors. McGiven, a 6-0 outside hitter from the San Dieguito Academy, earned All-CIF honors during the 1999 and 2000 seasons.