Dec. 1, 2002
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The 13th-ranked Santa Clara University women's volleyball team earned its fifth-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament Sunday evening as the tournament seedings and brackets were announced live on ESPNEWS.
The Broncos, who finished the year with a 24-6 overall record, will travel to Santa Barbara, Calif., where they will play Bay Area rival California in the first round. The winner of that match will take on the winner of the UC Santa Barbara/Fresno State match in the second round. UCSB is the No. 8 seed in the tournament and is the host institution for the first two rounds.
Santa Clara will have revenge on its mind when the tournament begins later this week as the Golden Bears handed the Broncos a devastating 3-2 loss in their final home match of the year. Cal leads the all-time series between the two schools with their 21-7 record, including three wins in the last five meetings.
The Broncos enter the tournament after posting the second-best regular season record in school history and after a second place finish in the West Coast Conference with their 12-2 mark. They are currently ranked 13th in the AVCA/USA Today Coaches poll and achieved a program-best ranking of No. 11 earlier in the year.
Juniors Becky Potter and Kelli Sousa lead the Bronco offensive attack as the two earned first team All-West Coast Conference honors following their outstanding regular seasons. Potter led the team with her 5.33 kills per game and is ranked among the top-15 in the nation. Sousa not only led the team and the WCC with her 14.44 assists per game, but leads the nation is assists per game.
Senior co-captains Chrissy Hirsch and Cindy Hirsch anchor a stingy Bronco defense that posted more than 2.5 digs per game more than the opposition while limiting them to a hitting percentage under .200. Chrissy Hirsch earned All-WCC honorable mention honors for her 3.48 digs per game average while junior Becky Biniek and freshman Alyssa Lantz also garnered All-WCC honorable mention honors. Biniek finished second on the team in hitting percentage with her .303 average while Lantz posted 3.06 kills per game during her rookie campaign.
Head coach Jon Wallace returns to his alma mater after leading the Broncos to their fourth-straight postseason appearance during his tenure on the Mission Campus. Wallace graduated from UCSB in 1989 with a degree in economics. While at UC Santa Barbara, Wallace led the Gauchos to the 1989 NCAA Men's Volleyball national championship match where they fell to USC in a memorable five-game match.
The 2002 NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament begins December 5 and culminates on December 20-21 at the Final Four in New Orleans, Louisiana.