Sept. 18, 2002
This Week: University of Denver Invitational
No. 19 Santa Clara will conclude its season-long 12-match road trip this weekend with three matches at the University of Denver Invitational. The Broncos will begin the tournament against the University of Maryland Friday night at 4 p.m. They will then face No. 8 Minnesota in the morning match on Saturday before taking on the host, University of Denver, at 6:30 p.m. Friday night to conclude the tournament.
Santa Clara and Maryland will meet for the first time in the two school's history Friday night in Denver, Colo. Maryland enters the Denver Invitational with a perfect 10-0 record including a 3-2 win over Santa Clara's West Coast Conference foe, Loyola Marymount. TheTerrapins are led by Lynnsy Jones who is averaging 4.51 kills per game with an impressive .276 hitting percentage. Lindsay Davey has seen action in 27 games and is averaging 11.89 assists per game, while Aimee Huddleston has posted 6.47 assists per game in 19 appearances on the court. With their 10 wins to start the year, the Terrapins are only two wins away from matching season win total from 2001.
Scouting No. 8 Minnesota
Santa Clara and Minnesota are meeting for the second time in school history this weekend. The Golden Gophers took the first meeting by a score of 3-1 in 1988 when they played at the Dan Gamel Invitational hosted by the University of Nevada. The two schools were to meet again in 2001 in Minnesota, but the tragedies of September 11th caused the cancellation of the four-team tournament. Minnesota enters the weekend ranked eighth in the nation with their 10-2 record. They have played five ranked teams thus far in 2002, posting wins over then No. 8 Pepperdine, No. 7 UCLA and No. 20 North Carolina. Their only two losses came at the hands of then No. 1 Stanford and No. 9 Northern Iowa. Cassie Busse leads the Golden Gophers with her 4.15 kills per game, while Lindsay Vander Well and Paula Gentil lead the team in assists and digs, respectively with their 12.33 and 4.74 per game averages.
Santa Clara and Denver will meet for the second time in the two school's history in the final match of the Denver Invitational this weekend. The Broncos defeated the Pioneers by a 3-0 score in 1998 on Santa Clara's home floor. Denver enters their own tournament having yet to win a match in 2002. The Pioneers are currently 0-7 and have only won four out of the 25 games in those seven matches this season. They are led offensively by Olympia Hughes who is averaging 3.24 kills per game, followed closely by Jennifer Karas who is averaging 3.12 per game. Emilee Gihring has posted 256 assists in 25 games for a 10.245 average, while Kara leads the team in digs with her 2.24 per game average.
Next Week: San Jose State at Home
The Broncos will return to the friendly confines of the Leavey Center for the first time in 2002 next weekend when they host cross-town rival San Jose State at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 28. Santa Clara will have retribution on its mind after being eliminated from the 2001 NCAA Tournament by the Spartans in Maples Pavillion on the campus of Stanford University. The Broncos trail in the all-time series despite splitting their two meetings in 2001. During the regular season last year the Broncos posted a 3-0 win at San Jose State.
Last Week: U.S. Bank/Arby's Classic hosted by No. 4 Nebraska
The Broncos continued their early season success despite a 3-0 loss to fourth-ranked Nebraska in the tournament opener Friday evening. Santa Clara gained a good measure of respectability in spite of the loss as they forced the Cornhuskers to extra points in game one before falling by a 36-34 score. They followed the tough loss on Friday night with two impressive wins on Saturday, the first over the University of Michigan by a 3-2 score. The match was the first five-game match of the season and saw Becky Potter post a season-best 23 kills. The Broncos continued to roll in the nightcap with a 3-1 victory over Alabama, moving their season record to 8-1, improving on the team's 7-1 start during the 2001 season.
Potter and Sousa Earn Third-Straight All-Tournament Selections
Juniors Becky Potter and Kelli Sousa each earned their third-straight all-tournament team honors following their performances in the U.S. Bank/Arby's Classic. Potter posted 55 kills, 37 digs, eight blocks and eight assists over the weekend, while Sousa collected 156 more assists, 29 digs, three blocks and two aces in the three matches. Potter has 137 kills on the season, giving her 839 for her career which moves her into 10th place all-time in Santa Clara history. Sousa's 423 assists in 2002 give her 2,314 for her career which currently ranks her fourth all-time in total assists and second all-time in assists per game with her 12.24 average.
Johnston Thrives in Starting Role
Sophomore Megan Johnston has adjusted very well to her starting role in 2002, having posted 66 kills, 82 digs, 19 blocks, 12 assists and nine service aces in 30 games for the Broncos. This after appearing in only 21 games as a freshman in which she posted a .116 hitting percentage. This year she is hitting .237 and is averaging 2.20 kills per game and 2.73 digs per game.
All nine of Santa Clara's opponents have been plagued by some double-vision in 2002 as senior co-captains Chrissy and Cindy Hirsch have had huge impacts on the team's defensive success. The twins have combined for 188 digs on the season which averages out to 6.10 digs per game. Chrissy Hirsch has been the only Bronco to see time in the newly created Libero position and has made the most of her time on the court with her 3.19 digs per game average. Cindy has had an equally big impact for the Broncos, currently ranking second on the team with her 2.87 digs per game average and her nine service aces.
In the Rankings
The Santa Clara Broncos moved up three spots following its weekend success at the U.S. Bank/Arby's Classic hosted by the University of Nebraska. The Broncos spent the first two weeks of the season at the No. 24 spot on the poll, but a six-match win streak has pushed them up to No. 22 in the third poll of the year. The program's highest-ever ranking is 14th, coming during the 2000 season.