Volleyball

 
September 27, 2001

No. 20 Volleyball Opens WCC Season

Sept. 27, 2001

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This Week: The Race Begins
Although the Broncos still have four non-conference matches on their schedule, the race to defend their 2000 West Coast Conference title begins this weekend when the team travels to San Diego and Saint Mary's. SCU will face the Toreros (7-3) on Friday night, and then return to the Bay Area and bus across the Bay to face the Gaels (2-6) on Saturday night.

More on This Week's Opponents
San Diego enters the weekend with an identical record as Santa Clara, 7-3, and both schools were picked to finish third in a preseason vote of league coaches. Torero outside hitter Noel Frohman was named the conference's player of the week last week after registering 51 kills and 34 digs during the last week in a win over Wyoming and a tough loss to Colorado State. The Broncos lead the overall series against USD 23-13 and won both meetings in 2000. The Gaels are 2-6 this season, with victories over Centenary and CS Fullerton, and despite a slow start, SMC is second in the conference in blocks and service aces. Santa Clara leads the series 36-5 with its last loss to the Gaels coming in the 1996 season.

In the WCC
Santa Clara leads the West Coast Conference in kills (16.35 per game), assists (14.84 per game) and digs (19.11 per game). Individually, sophomore Kelli Sousa is averaging more than one assist more per game than other league setters to lead that category with a 13.22 mark. Three Broncos are ranked in kills, with Toni Muratore leading the way with the fourth-best mark, a 3.80 average. Jami Bari is right behind her, averaging 3.76 kills per game, and Becky Potter is seventh, with a 3.37 kills per game average. In digs, Merrin Thompson is third in the WCC with a 3.65 per game stat and Bari is right behind her, averaging 3.38 digs per game.

Up Next: Bay Area Rivalry with Stanford at Home, Northwest Teams Also Visit
Santa Clara will return home for a three-match series, beginning with a local rival in fourth-ranked--and undefeated at 8-0--Stanford on Tuesday, Oct. 2. The Broncos return to WCC play with Gonzaga and Portland visiting for Friday and Saturday night matches.

Live on the Internet
All three of Santa Clara's matches next week can followed online with a live statistical tracker at the department's official athletic website, www.SantaClaraBroncos.com. By logging on, fans can receive real-time updated statistics direct from the official scoring computer. The feature was introduced this season and can be enjoyed for the team's remaining 10 home contests.

Senior Opposite Hitter Jami Bari
Co-captain Jami Bari earned SCU Invitational MVP and WCC Player of the Week honors for strong play Sept. 8-9, which included three double-doubles and a career-high 20 kills in the Broncos' victory over UC Santa Barbara. Bari is leading the team with a 3.76 kills per game mark and is second on the team in digs with a 3.38 per game average, Both marks are also in the top five in the WCC.

Sophomore Outside Hitter Becky Potter
When the WCC named sophomore Becky Potter the 2000 Freshman of the Year, history was made, as she became the first rookie from Santa Clara to earn the award. A highly recruited athlete from Clovis, Potter also earned honorable mention All-WCC honors. She earned a starting role on the right side early in the season and averaged 3.36 kills and 1.92 digs per game. This season, she's moved to the left side of the court, and is already seeing dividends after she was named to the All-Tournament Team for her performances at the Phoenix Airport Hilton/Sun Devil Challenge and the SCU Invitational. She's seventh in the WCC in kills, averaging 3.37 per game.

Freshmen Dominate Middle Blocking Positions
When Santa Clara graduated middle blocking standouts Amy Kohl and Brooke Terhune in 2000, questions were raised in how strong this position would be for the Broncos. The team has already found the answer, just eight matches into the season. Freshmen Toni Muratore, Jennifer Ryan and Christina Vick, as well as sophomore Becky Biniek have stepped onto the court and have created some noise. Muratore is second on the team with 133 kills, a team-leading 3.80 per game average while Ryan and Vick have both entered matches and provided solid support, including Vick's team-leading .379 hitting percentage.

Major Rules Changes In Effect for 2001
Collegiate volleyball is seeing some changes this season as rally scoring for all games and the let serve have been introduced this season. All games will be played to 30 points except for the fifth game which will be played to 15. Additionally, a served ball will remain in play if it hits the net and continues its path to the opposition's court and remains in bounds. Although Santa Clara will not take part, some matches will also use an experimental international pursuit rule. The rule allows for players to retrieve a ball that has crossed the plane of the net to the opponent's free space, provided the player doesn't touch the opponent's court and sends the ball back to their court.

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 in his third season, he has a career mark of 55-19 (.743). 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.