Nov. 13, 2003
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Santa Clara University head volleyball coach Jon Wallace inked three standout players from Northern California high schools to National Letters of Intent during the first day of the early signing period on Wednesday afternoon. The fifth-year head coach secured the services of Santa Rosa's Crystal Matich, Merced's Annalisa Muratore and Napa's Anna Cmaylo.
"This is a very talented and athletic crop of recruits and could be the best class we have signed during my tenure here," said Wallace. "We are looking for them to come in and have an immediate impact on the team. They have somewhat of a daunting task, filling the void of the seniors we are losing following this year, but they are gifted enough that they might just go above and beyond what is being asked of them."
The three recruits will join a team next season that will dominated by juniors whose experience and knowledge of the collegiate game will be valuable for the newcomers to draw on.
Matich is currently a senior at El Molino High School in Forestville, Calif., where she has been playing for head coach Elsa Binder. The 5-foot-10 setter is being brought in to fill the shoes of setter Kelli Sousa who will be graduating following this season.
"Crystal has the ability to make an immediate impact and to be a great setter for the future of our program," said Wallace. "She is a highly skilled and very athletic performer which, we hope, will allow her to be one of the very best setters in division I."
Muratore has spent the last four years playing for head coach Michelle Osmer at Buhach Colony High school in Atwater, Calif. The 6-foot-1 middle blocker was the team's most improved player in 2000 and the team's MVP in 2001 and 2002. Her older sister, Toni Muratore, is currently a sophomore outside hitter for the Broncos who earned All-West Coast Conference honors herself as a freshman in 2001.
"We are looking for Annalisa to come in and start right away at middle blocker," said Wallace. "She is a very explosive and dynamic athlete who will cause havoc both offensively and defensively. The combination of Toni and her playing together should be a very fun duo to watch."
Cmaylo becomes a Bronco by way of Vintage High School in Napa, Calif., where she played volleyball for head coach Jim Cherniss. While in high school the 6-foot-3 Cmaylo played both right side and middle blocker, but it is in the middle where she will make her presence felt for Santa Clara.
"Anna will come in and compete right away for a starting middle blocker spot," said Wallace. "Her height and athletic ability will make her an impact player during her freshman year."
Wallace and the 13th-ranked Broncos are currently 17-8 overall and 8-2 in West Coast Conference play. They lose Becky Biniek, Becky Potter and Sousa to graduation following this season. Both Biniek and Potter are middle blockers, necessitating SCU to fill their void in order to keep Toni Muratore on the outside as a hitter.
Santa Clara's 2003 season has only five matches remaining before NCAA Tournament play begins. The Broncos are looking for their sixth-straight trip to the postseason and eighth overall. SCU has a .725 winning percentage under Wallace whose 108-41 overall record in five seasons gives him the best winning percentage in program history.