Nov. 5, 2002
This Week: Final WCC Home Matches
No. 11 Santa Clara will host its final two West Coast Conference home matches this weekend when they welcome Portland and Gonzaga to the Leavey Center. Friday night's matchup with the Pilots of Portland is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start, while Saturday night's match with the Bulldogs marks Senior Night with the match starting right after the Broncos honor their three outgoing senior student-athletes.
Santa Clara vs. Portland
Santa Clara and Portland have met 34 previous times entering this weekend's matchup, with the Broncos holding the all-time series advantage with a 27-7 record. Since 1995, Santa Clara has posted a 15-0 record against the Pilots, including two three-game sweeps last year and a three-game sweep in Portland earlier this season. The last time that Portland beat the Broncos was during the 1994 season when the Bulldogs swept the season series from the Broncos by scores of 3-1 and 3-0.
Scouting the Pilots
Portland enters Friday night's match with a 14-10 overall record and a 3-6 mark in the WCC. The Pilots are 2-1 in their last three matches and 4-4 in their last eight including a huge win over Loyola Marymount at home last weekend by a score of 3-1. Heather Denison leads the Pilot offense, averaging 3.26 kills per game in all matches while Sara Vercruyssen leads the offense in WCC play, averaging 3.84 kills per game in the nine conference matches. Sheena Surplus is averaging 11.10 assists per game and 2.72 digs per game while Carlie Price is averaging a team-best 5.13 digs per game. Price's digs per game average is tops in the conference, nearly two full digs per game more than Heather Signor of Gonzaga who is in second place.
Santa Clara vs. Gonzaga
Santa Clara and Gonzaga have met 29 previous times entering this weekend's matchup in the Leavey Center, with the Broncos holding a decisive 23-6 lead in the series. Since 1995, Santa Clara has posted a 15-0 record against the Bulldogs, including two three-game sweeps last year and a three-game sweep in Spokane, Wash., earlier this season. The last time that Gonzaga beat the Broncos was during the 1994 season when the Bulldogs swept the Broncos in both matches.
Scouting the Bulldogs
Gonzaga enters the weekend with a 4-19 overall record and a 2-7 mark in the WCC. They are currently on a five-match losing streak which comes on the heals of their first two conference wins against San Francisco and Saint Mary's early in October. Christina Davis leads the Bulldog offense with her 3.78 kills per game average while her 2.81 digs per game average is second on the team to Heather Signor. Signor's 3.51 digs per game not only leads the team but places her second in the conference. Missy Perry's 9.74 assists per game leads the Zags while Abby Cullen's 1.29 blocks per game paces their defense. Cullen is also contributing of the offensive end with her 3.03 kills per game which ranks second on the team.
Broncos Honor Seniors
As is tradition near the end of each year teams set aside a little time prior to a home match to honor their outgoing seniors for all they have accomplished while at that institution. Santa Clara volleyball will honor its three seniors this Saturday night prior to its match with Gonzaga. The Bronocs will say thanks to Amy Grabill, Chrissy Hirsch and Cindy Hirsch in a prematch ceremony scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the Leavey Center.
Next Week: Huge Road Matches at Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount
The Broncos will head back out on the road next weekend, travelling to No. 10 Pepperdine on Friday night and to Loyola Marymount Saturday evening. Santa Clara is currently in second place in the conference, just one game behind Pepperdine but two full games ahead of San Diego who is in third place. Since Jon Wallace took over the program in 1999 the Broncos have gone 3-3 on their trips to Malibu and Los Angeles, with the three wins all coming against LMU and the three losses all coming to Pepperdine. Two of the three losses did come in five games while the lone other loss came in four games.
Last Week: Broncos Come Up With Three Wins
Just one day after attaining the program's highest-ever ranking the AVCA/USA Today Coaches Poll of No. 12, the Broncos came away with a big 3-1 win over Sacramento State Tuesday night in the Leavey Center. Santa Clara fought through a tough beginning and rallied to win the match by a 3-1 score. The Broncos then travelled to Moraga, Calif., where they swept Saint Mary's on Friday evening. Saturday night's match at San Diego was big in that the Broncos wanted to put some room between themselves and the Toreros in the standings. Despite a hostile crowd of over 1,000 fans, Santa Clara played well and prevailed by a 3-1 score. Becky Potter posted 58 kills and 38 digs in the three matches, while Kelli Sousa registered 157 assists, nine kills and 31 digs. Chrissy and Cindy Hirsch recorded 77 digs between them while freshmen Cassie Perret and Alyssa Lantz had good weeks as well with their 37 and 42 kills, respectively.
Many Broncos At or Near Top of WCC Stats
Becky Potter continues to have a tremendous year for the Broncos, posting a 5.22 kills per game average in all contests and a 5.87 kills per game in conference matches only, both of which lead the West Coast Conference. Kelli Sousa also leads the conference in overall assists per game with her 14.64 average and in conference only matches with her 14.90 per game average. Becky Biniek ranks fifth in the conference for hitting percentage with her .341 percentage in WCC only matches and seventh in all matches with her .321 percentage. Potter is fourth in overall hitting percentage at .331 but ninth in WCC only matches with her .330 percentage. Chrissy and Cindy Hirsch are currently sixth and seventh, respectively, in overall digs per game with their 3.38 and 3.15 per game averages. In conference matches only Cindy is third in the conference while Chrissy is sixth with their 3.52 and 3.32 digs per game averages.
Potter on Record Setting Pace
At her current kills per game pace Potter would post 537 kills which would rank second all-time in Santa Clara history while her 5.22 kills per game average would rank her first all-time. She currently has 1,114 kills which ranks sixth all-time in Bronco history while her 4.14 kills per game career average ranks her second in the SCU record books. Also, she currently has 670 career digs and a 2.49 digs per game average. On that current pace Potter would join the 1,000 kill/1,000 dig club at Santa Clara sometime near the end of next season. The 1,000 kill/1,000 dig club currently has only five members with the last to join being Jami Bari during the 2001 season.
Sousa Leads Nation in Assists Per Game
Junior setter Kelli Sousa ranks first in the nation with her 14.64 assists per game average heading into this week's play. She has tallied 1,171 assists to date this year, giving her 3,062 for her career, which ranks fourth all-time in Santa Clara history. Her current career average of 12.87 assists per game for her career ranks second all-time, trailing only Roz Pelayo who set the career mark at 14.01 when she played from 1997-2000. Sousa was Pelayo's backup as a freshman in 2000.
Freshmen Making Marks
Cassie Perret and Alyssa Lantz are each having very good rookie seasons at the collegiate level. Perret, the freshman from Woodside Priory High School in Menlo Park is currently second on the team in kills with 279 and has started every match and played in each game for the Broncos. At her current pace of 3.44 kills per game, Perret will finish with more kills than Becky Potter did during her WCC Freshman of the Year season in 2000. Lantz, the freshman from Centennial High School in Bakersfield is currently third on the team in kills per game with her 2.93 average in 67 games. Lantz is also tied for the team lead with her 19 aces.
All 21 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 529 digs on the season, including their 77 in the Broncos three wins last week. The duo is currently averaging 6.53 digs per game between them. Chrissy Hirsch has been the only Bronco to see time in the newly adopted Libero position and has made the most of her time on the court with her 3.38 digs per game average. Cindy has had an equally big impact for the Broncos, currently ranking second on the team with her 3.15 digs per game average, and is also tied for first on the team in service aces with 19.
In the Rankings - Broncos Keep Moving Up
On October 28 the Santa Clara University volleyball squad moved up two spots in the AVCA/USA Today Top-25 poll Monday morning, jumping ahead of UCLA and North Carolina to take over the No. 12 spot on the poll, giving the program its highest-ever ranking. The Broncos, who are currently 20-3 overall and 8-1 in the West Coast Conference, moved up again in the most recent poll, jumping up one spot to No. 11 on November 4. Of the teams in the top-12 in the nation, six come from California. Of those six teams two are from the West Coast Conference, two from the Pac-10 and two from the Big West. "I think it is great to be recognized by the coaches from around the country," said fourth-year head coach Jon Wallace. "To have a ranking as high as we have is a credit to the tradition that we are starting to build here at Santa Clara University. Our goal is to be among the top-10 programs in the country on a perennial basis and I think this is an indication that we are on our way."