Sept. 9, 2003
This Week: U.S. Bank/Arby's Invitational
The 13th-ranked Santa Clara University volleyball team will travel to Lincoln, Neb., for three matches against top-25 teams in the U.S. Bank/Arby's Invitational hosted by Nebraska. The Broncos will take on the host Cornhuskers Friday evening at 5 p.m. Day two brings about a match with Georgia Tech while on Sunday SCU will face Michigan State at 10 a.m. All times listed are Pacfic.
No. 13 Santa Clara vs. No. 5 Nebraska
Santa Clara and Nebraska have met only four times in the two program's history. The Cornhuskers hold the all-time series advantage over the Broncos with their 4-0 record, including a 3-0 win in last year's Arby's Invitational. Prior to last year's meeting the last time these two teams met was in 1988 when Nebraska defeated SCU by a 3-0 score. The Huskers went on that season to claim the national title. Nebraska enters the tournament with a perfect 6-0 record and the No. 5 national ranking. They have swept all but one match as Illinois State forced a fourth game on their home court.
No. 13 Santa Clara vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech
Santa Clara and Georgia Tech will meet for the first time when the play on Saturday in the U.S. Bank/Arby's Invitational. The Yellow Jackets enter the tournament with the No. 10 national ranking and a perfect 5-0 record. They have swept all five of their matches with the closest game being a 37-35 win in game three against Northwestern. The next closest game of the 15 they have played in their five matches were 30-26 wins in game three against both Coastal Carolina and Alabama.
No. 13 Santa Clara vs. No. 17 Michigan State
Santa Clara and Michigan State will meet for the first time when the play on Sunday in the U.S. Bank/Arby's Invitational. Like the Cornhuskers and Yellow Jackets, the Spartans enter the tournament in Nebraska with a unblemished record. MSU is currently 5-0 and has had one match go five games, one go four games and the other three were clean sweeps. Last weekend Michigan State claimed a 3-1 victory over South Carolina and a 3-0 victory over North Carolina.
Two More Honors
Senior Becky Potter added two more honors to her already impressive volleyball resume over the weekend as she was named the Wildcat Invitational MVP and the WCC Player of the Week. She guided the Broncos to four victories over the weekend including a 3-1 victory over then No. 10 Arizona and a 3-2 victory over Miami, who was a sweet 16 team in 2002. The victory over Miami gave Santa Clara the tournament title as they also registered wins over Rhode Island and San Diego State. Potter posted 71 kills and a .351 hitting percentage in the four matches to go along with 47 digs and 14 blocks. In the first match against No. 10 Arizona, Potter posted 20 kills, nine digs and four blocks. Her biggest output of the weekend came in the thrilling 3-2 victory over San Diego State as she tallied 26 kills, seven digs and five blocks.
Joining tournament MVP Becky Potter on the Wildcat Invitational All-Tournament team were two Broncos who had stellar performances. Setter Kelli Sousa led the tournament in assists and assists per game while Jac Heler led the tournament in digs and digs per game. The all-tournament selection is the fourth honor for Sousa in her career and the first for Heler as a member of the Broncos.
Junior transfer Jac Heler suffered a season-ending injury on the final day of the Wildcat Invitational when she broke both the tibia and fibula in her left leg during game two of the Broncos' 3-2 win over Miami. Heler's services will be sorely missed as she made a big impression on the Mission Campus in her first five matches. She averaged 2.77 kills per game while her 3.64 digs per game average led the team. She was averaging just under one block per game and had generated 71.0 points in those five matches.
In the Broncos' 3-2 win over Miami, Santa Clara posted 16 total team blocks, the team's highest output this season. Leading the way during that block party was senior Becky Biniek who not only set a career-high with her 11 block assists in the game, but established a new program best for block assists in a single match. The previous mark was held by three players who had 10 block assists.
After the first five matches of the year, senior Becky Potter has moved from fifth place all-time, to third place all-time in career kills at Santa Clara. Her 108 kills thus far in 2003 give her1,381 for her career. She trails only Lia Young (1,496) and Ynez Carrasco (1,748) for the all-time mark. Additionally, in digs Potter has 820 for her career, leaving her only180 shy of the 1,000 dig plateau. When she reaches the milestone, Potter will become only the sixth player in program history to accomplish such a feat.
Setting the Tone
Kelli Sousa has become one of the best setters in the nation. As a junior she led the country in assists per game. She has picked up in 2003 right where she left off in 2002. Thus far this season Sousa is averaging 14.28 assists per game, nearly the identical number she averaged as a junior. In the team's first six matches, Sousa has spread the ball around enough that three players ended four of those six matches with double-digit kills. With 357 assists this season, she now has 3,858 for her career, the fourth highest total in program history. She trails third place Julie Jamile by only 17 assists. Kris Kosnoski posted 4,421 in her career while Roz Pelayo recorded 5,732 assists in her four year span.
In the Rankings
SCU began the season with its highest-ever preseason national ranking, coming out of the blocks at No. 14 n the AVCA/USA Today Coaches' Poll. Currently the Broncos are ranked No. 13 after posting four victories at the Wildcat Invitational that included a 3-1 win over then No. 10 Arizona. They moved up seven spots after spending week two at No. 20.
Santa Clara will face one of the toughest schedules in the nation during the 2003 season, squaring off with 10 opponents who are currently ranked in the top-25, including four matches against teams that are ranked in the top-5, and six matches against teams ranked in the top-10. This weekend the Broncos face one of the toughest weekends in the country, taking on three teams ranked in the top-17.
Head Coach Jon Wallace
Jon Wallace enters his fifth season at the helm of the Santa Clara program. During his four years on the Mission Campus, Wallace has guided the Broncos to four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances and two season records that rank among the top three in school history. His .734 win overall win percentage and his .821 mark in WCC play give him the best winning percentage in school history with each being more than 100 points better than the next closest coach. During his tenure the Broncos have had 20 all-WCC selections, six all-WCC academic selections, two AVCA All-Pacific Region players, one WCC Player of the Year, one WCC Defender of the Year, one WCC Freshman of the Year and one AVCA All-American. Wallace himself was named the WCC Coach of the Year in 2000 when he led the Broncos to the WCC title.
Up Next: Gamecock Tournament
Santa Clara will continue its season-opening 12-match road trip with three matches ain the Gamecock Tournament hosted by South Carolina. The Broncos will take on South Carolina, Duke and George Washington in the tournament held in Columbia, S.C.