No. 14 Volleyball Opens Postseason Friday Night
Dec. 4, 2002
This Week: NCAA Tournament Begins
The Santa Clara University women's volleyball team will compete in the 2002 NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament this weekend in Santa Barbara, Calif. The Broncos received an at-large berth into the tournament and will play in the West Regional. Their first round opponent is Bay Area rival California. If Santa Clara should win its opening round match, waiting in the wings is the winner of the UC Santa Barbara - Fresno State match that will take place 30 minutes following the completion of Santa Clara's match with Cal.
Santa Clara vs. California
Santa Clara and Cal have met 28 previous times entering Friday night's match, with the Golden Bears holding the all-time series advantage with a 21-7 record. The Broncos have won only two of the last five meetings with the Bears winning the last two, including a come-from-behind five game victory at Santa Clara on November 19. Santa Clara won the first two games in the match but a career-high 29 kills from Leah Young led California back to a thrilling 3-2 win.
Scouting the Golden Bears
Cal enters the tournament with a 19-11 overall record and having won three of their last four matches. Mia Jerkov leads the team with her 5.88 kills per game which also ranks fourth in the nation. Leah Young is second on the team with her 3.22 kills per game average while Jerkov's 3.41 digs per game average is tops on the team. Caity Noonan directs the Golden Bear with her 1,340 assists on the season which averages out to 12.07 per game. Camille Lefall is fourth on the team in kills per game with her 2.23 average but her hitting percentage of .341 and blocks per game average of 0.93 both lead the team. As a team the Golden Bears went 12-0 in non-conference play but dropped to 7-11 in Pac-10 play which placed them eight in the conference. The Pac-10 sent a record 10 teams to this year's NCAA Tournament.
Santa Clara vs. UC Santa Barbara
Santa Clara and UCSB have met 17 previous times with the Gauchos holding a commanding all-time series advantage with their 15-2 record against the Broncos. Their last meeting came in 2001 in the Leavey Center when the Broncos swept the Gauchos by a 3-0 score in the SCU Invitational.
Scouting the Gauchos
UC Santa Barbara enters the NCAA Tournament with an impressive 28-2 overall record and the No. 7 ranking in the latest AVCA/USA Today Coaches Poll. They captured the Big West crown with a perfect 18-0 record. Their only two losses came at the hands of No. 8 Pepperdine and top-ranked USC. Danielle Bauer leads the team with her 4.74 kills per game average and 1.16 digs per game average. Erica Menzel is second on the team in kills per game with her 3.76 average while her 4.25 digs per game mark leads the team. Brooke Niles is among the nation's leaders with her 14.13 assists per game average while her 3.45 digs per game average ranks third on the team. As a team they are ranked third in the country in kills per game with their 17.58 average, which is .19 higher than the Broncos.
Santa Clara vs. Fresno State
Santa Clara and Fresno State have met 23 previous times entering the NCAA Tournament, with the Bulldogs holding an 18-5 margin over the Broncos. The two teams last met in 2000 when the Broncos handed Fresno State a 3-1 loss in Santa Clara.
Scouting the Bulldogs
Fresno State enters the tournament with a 23-6 overall record and having finished 2nd in the WAC behind Hawaii with a 10-3 mark. Kristen Fenton leads the team with her 3.83 kills per game while Carrie Harrt, Java Johnson and Christy Burnett trail closely behind with their 3.33, 3.18 and 3.11 kills per game averages. Whitney Arena directs the Bulldog offense with her 11.80 assists per game with her 2.34 digs per game being among the team leaders as well. Tina Brennan's 3.27 digs per game ranks first on the team while Hartt and Johnson each average over one block per game. As a team the Bulldogs ranked 27th in the nation with their 2.81 blocks per game, led by Hartt's 1.39 average which ranks her 27th in the nation as well.
Last Week: Broncos Drop Regular Season Finale
Santa Clara closed out its 2002 regular season with a 3-0 loss at No. 4 Stanford. The Broncos were in each game up until the midway point when Stanford flexed its collective muscles to pull away each time. Becky Potter ended the match with a match-high 19 kills to go along with her team-high 10 digs. Despite the loss, the Broncos ended the regular season with the second best regular season record in program history.
Five Broncos Earn All-WCC Honors
Juniors Becky Potter and Kelli Sousa earned first team honors, while junior Becky Biniek, senior Chrissy Hirsch and freshman Alyssa Lantz earned honorable mention nods after leading the Broncos to a 24-6 overall regular-season record and a second place finish in the WCC with their 12-2 mark. Potter earns her second consecutive first team nod after leading the league in kills per game and points per game, while also ranking in the top-five in hitting percentage and blocks per game. She currently has 549 kills this season, 11 away from setting a new Santa Clara single-season record, while her 5.30 kills per game average is the best single-season average in Bronco Volleyball history. Sousa adds first team honors to go along with last year's honorable mention honor after leading the nation with her 14.44 assists per game average, while her 14.69 assists per game average in WCC only matches was nearly one full assist ahead of the next closest setter. She has tallied 1,560 assists this season, the third highest single-season total in SCU history, while her 3,451 career assists currently ranks her fourth. Biniek earns her first postseason honor after finishing fifth in the conference in hitting percentage with her .353 percentage in 14 conference matches. Hirsch gets her second-straight nod on the all-conference team after leading the Broncos with her 3.48 digs per game, while her 3.43 digs per game in conference play ranked her sixth. Lantz earns the honor after being vaulted into the lineup due to early season injuries. She made the most of her opportunities, racking up 3.56 kills per game and 4.12 points per game in league play, both of which were in the top-10.
Potter Closes in on Record
Becky Potter currently has 549 kills on the season, the second highest single-season total in Bronco Volleyball history. She is only 10 kills away from tying Lia Young's single-season mark of 559 that was set during the 1991 season when the Broncos went 26-11. Potter's 5.33 kills per game average is not only a new Santa Clara single-season mark, but currently ranks 12th in the nation.
Sousa Leads Nation in Assists Per Game
Junior setter Kelli Sousa ranks first in the nation with her 14.44 assists per game average heading into the tournament. She has tallied 1,560 assists to date this year, giving her 3,451 for her career, which ranks fourth all-time in Santa Clara history. Her 2002 season already ranks third in SCU single-season history, trailing only Kris Kosnoski'a 1,760 and Roz Pelayo's 1,678. Her current career average of 12.97 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.
All 30 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 709 digs this season. The duo is currently averaging 6.50 digs per game between them and an even better 6.91 digs per game during league play. 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 3.41 digs per game average. Cindy has had an equally big impact for the Broncos, currently ranking second on the team with her 3.09 digs per game average, while her 27 aces leads the team. Both have set new career-highs this year for digs in a match, with Cindy setting her new record at 29 against LMU and Chrissy setting her new record of 24 against Michigan.
Biniek Makes Most of Opportunity
Junior Becky Biniek entered the season having only seen action in 34 games in her first two years on the Mission Campus. This year she has seen action in 104 games, posting 2.35 kills per game and a .303 which is the third best percentage on the team this season. Her .353 conference hitting percentage was good enough to earn her All-WCC honorable mention honors.
In the Rankings - Broncos Drop Two Spots
The Broncos dropped one spots in the current AVCA/USA Today Coaches Poll, falling to No. 14 after dropping its season finale last week to No. 4 Stanford. They established a new program-high on October 28th when they moved into the No. 12 spot, besting their program-high of No. 14 from the 2000 season. Just one week later the Broncos made school history again when they moved up to the No. 11 spot in the poll. They remained there for three weeks before falling back to No. 13.