No. 25 Volleyball Heads to Southern California for WCC Tests
Oct. 9, 2001
The Broncos face some of its toughest opposition this week in Southern California conference members Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. Like SCU, the Lions upset No. 20 UC Santa Barbara in three games, and enter the weekend 8-5 overall, 2-1 in league action. Although the Broncos won both of last year's meetings, LMU leads the overall series 25-15. The following night, Santa Clara faces 15th-ranked Pepperdine. The two teams have battled to five games in each of the last four outings, including SCU's dramatic victory last season for the conference title on the last night of league play. Pepperdine is one of two teams who remain undefeated in conference play at 3-0 and are 8-2 overall, with losses to top-ranked Nebraska and No. 7 UCLA. The Waves lead the series with SCU 25-15.
In the WCC Statistics
Santa Clara leads the conference in digs (18.36 per game) while ranking second in kills (16.23 per game) and assists (14.77 per game) and fourth in hitting percentage (.205). Individually, sophomore Kelli Sousa leads league setters with a 13.17 mark. Three Broncos are ranked in kills, with Toni Muratore leading the way with the fifth-best mark, a 3.68 average. Becky Potter is right behind her, averaging 3.56 kills per game, and Jami Bari is seventh, with a 3.38 kills per game average. In digs, Bari is third, averaging 3.45 per game, Merrin Thompson is sixth with a 3.34 per game stat. Bari is also ranked seventh in service aces (.36).
Potter Named WCC Player of the Week
Becky Potter was named the WCC's Player of the Week for her play against fourth-ranked Stanford and two league opponents, Gonzaga and Portland, last weekend. She recorded 45 kills, averaging five per game. In the Broncos' three matches, Potter hit .323, served up five aces, and had 24 digs (2.67 per game). Against Gonzaga, Potter notched her seventh double-double of the year, totaling 17 kills and 12 digs. Against Stanford, she led the SCU attack with 18 kills.
In the Rankings
The Broncos are currently ranked 25th in this week's USA Today/AVCA poll. The Broncos began the season ranked 22nd, marking the first-ever preseason listing for the program. This week's poll also marks the Broncos' 21st straight appearance in the rankings. 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.
Santa Clara is 1-4 against ranked opposition, with two losses against 12th-ranked Hawaii and one loss each to No. 4 Stanford and No. 23 South Carolina. The Broncos' win is against 13th-ranked UCSB.
Last Time Out: Broncos Fall to Stanford, Top Gonzaga, Portland
Santa Clara did not open defense of its 2000 West Coast Conference Championship as well as it had hoped, falling to San Diego in three games at the Jenny Craig Pavilion for its third straight loss. Game scores were 30-28, 30-21, 30-26. Toni Muratore led the Broncos with 12 kills. As a team, SCU was outhit .318 to .125 and outblocked 8-2. The Broncos bounced back the next night by defeating Saint Mary's in three games at the McKeon Pavilion. Game scores were 31-29, 30-23, 30-13. Jessie Mechem tied her career high in kills for the third time this season, with 16 against the Gaels. She was one of four Broncos to reach double figures in that category, as Becky Potter posted 12 and Jami Bari and Muratore added 11 each. The Broncos hit .450 in the final frame en route to outhitting SMC .262 to .139 on the night. Included in those stats was an error-free night by Muratore, who hit .611 on 18 attempts. SCU also posted a season-high 12 service aces, two short of the program record for a three-game match. Bari led the way five, while Mechem, Megan Johnston and Kelli Sousa added two each. And despite being outblocked six to two, Santa Clara's defense was strong in the digs category. Five players posted at least 10, led by Bari's 16, for a team-leading eighth double-double this season.
Up Next: No. 12 Pacific, San Francisco
Santa Clara returns to the Leavey Center for a mid-week match against Pacific, currently ranked 12th with a 13-3 mark. The Broncos swept the Tigers in Stockton last season. SCU will then return to conference play against USF.
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 was also named the WCC's Player of the Week for last weekend's performance against fourth-ranked Stanford and Gonzaga and Portland. She recorded 45 kills, averaging five per game, hit .323, served up five aces, and had 24 digs (2.67 per game). Against Gonzaga, Potter notched her seventh double-double of the year, totaling 17 kills and 12 digs. Against Stanford, she led the SCU attack with 18 kills. She's sixth in the WCC in kills, averaging 3.56 per game.
Broncos Picked Third in WCC Preseason Poll
For the second straight year, Santa Clara was picked to finish third in the 2001 West Coast Conference race according a preseason poll of the league's coaches, the conference office announced August 1. Despite winning the 2000 WCC title, the Broncos received 48 points to tie with San Diego in a tally of the conference's eight head coaches. Pepperdine, the team Santa Clara defeated in the league's final match last season to claim the conference title, was voted as the favorite to win the WCC crown in the preseason poll for the third straight season. The Waves received seven first-place votes and compiled 63 total points to take the top slot.