Volleyball

 

No. 13 Volleyball Takes on Utah in First Round of NCAA Tournament

Dec. 2, 2003

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This Week: Broncos Begin Sixth-Straight NCAA Tournament
The Santa Clara University volleyball team will begin its sixth-straight NCAA Tournament with a first round matchup with the University of Utah Friday evening at 5 p.m. in Seattle, Wash. The University of Washington is serving as the host institution for the first two rounds and will play Northwestern in the second match at the Bank of America Arena on the UW campus. The winners of the first round matches will meet for the right to advance to the sweet sixteen the following evening at 5 p.m. The third and fourth rounds of the NCAA Tournament for the Broncos' side of the bracket will be held on December 12 and 13 at Long Beach State in southern California.

Santa Clara vs. Utah
The Broncos and Utes have met four previous times entering Friday evening's matchup with SCU holding a 3-1 record in those matches. The last time that these two teams met was on September 21, 1996 in the Utah State Invitational. The Utes came away with a 3-2 victory.

Scouting the Utes
Utah enters the NCAA Tournament with a 21-8 overall record, having finished second in the Mountain West Conference with its 12-2 mark. Kim Turner leads the Utes with her 4.23 kills per game average and 1.54 blocks per game mark. Kelsie Kartchner and Tracy Neumeier split time on the court at setter, each averaging over eight assists per game. Utah is 13-3 in its last 16 matches with all three losses coming at the hands of Colorado State, the MWC champion.

Santa Clara vs. Washington
The Broncos and Huskies have met three times in program history with Washington holding a 2-1 all-time series advantage. The Huskies handed the Broncos losses in both 1982 and 1983 but Santa Clara rebounded in 1984 with a 3-2 victory. All three of those matches were played as part of the NorPac Conference league schedule.

Scouting the Huskies
Washington enters the NCAA Tournament with the nation's No. 14 ranking according to the AVCA. They finished their regular season with a 20-8 overall mark and a 10-8 record in Pac-10 play. Sanja Tomasevic leads the team with her 5.30 kills per game average that have come primarily from setter Courtney Thompson who is averaging 14.01 assists per game. Candace Lee leads the Washington defense with her 4.26 digs per game.

Santa Clara vs. Northwestern
The Broncos and Wildcats have met five previous times with Northwestern holding a 4-1 advantage in the all-time series. The last time they met was during the 1994 season when the Broncos defeated the Wildcats 3-1 in the final match of the Holiday Inn Invitational in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Scouting the Wildcats
Northwestern enters the NCAA Tournament with an 18-14 overall record and a 9-11 mark in the Big Ten. They finished seventh in their league that placed a nation leading seven teams into the 2003 NCAA Tournament. The Broncos and Wildcats played three similar teams in 2003 with SCU defeating Miami and losing to Michigan State and Georgia Tech. The Wildcats also defeated Miami and beat Michigan State once, but lost to Michigan State in the middle of the year and to Georgia Tech at the beginning of the season. NU is led by Iwone Lodzik's 4.49 kills per game while teammate Erika Lange trails closely behind with her 4.04 kills per game mark. Drew Robertson directs the offense with her 13.20 assists per game while Lodzik paces the Northwestern defense with her 2.97 digs per game average.

Last Week: Broncos Drop Regular Season Finale
The 13th-ranked Santa Clara University women's volleyball team dropped its 2003 regular season finale to No. 6 Stanford by a 3-1 score Friday night in the Leavey Center. Game scores were 24-30, 30-25, 30-22 and 30-22. With the win the Cardinal improve to 22-6 overall while dropping SCU to 20-10 on the season. The match was the Broncos' third-straight against a ranked opponent as they went five games against No. 4 Pepperdine and No. 16 Loyola Marymount over the weekend in the Leavey Center. Santa Clara came out energized in game one and caught Stanford a little off guard, jumping out to leads of 4-0 and 11-4, forcing the Cardinal to call a timeout. From there Stanford tightened the reigns a bit and narrowed the SCU lead down to 24-21 but could get no closer as the Broncos pulled away for a 30-24 win in game one. Game two was the complete opposite as Stanford rushed out to an early five point lead before Santa Clara battled back to close the gap to two at 16-14. The Cardinal took advantage of the Broncos' tired legs and pressed forward for a five point lead at match point. A Becky Potter kill extended the match until a service error on the very next play gave Stanford game two. Games three and four were dominated by Stanford whose block got big in the final two games. After the first two games the teams were dead even at eight apiece, but seven Cardinal blocks over the next two games compared to none for the Broncos made the difference. Stanford won the final two games by eight points each. SCU was led on the evening by Potter's 20 kills while Toni Muratore added 17 and Becky Biniek chipped in with 12. Kelli Sousa had a match-high 57 assists on the evening to go along with her 12 digs. Kristen Luxton had 14 digs in the loss. Stanford was led by Ogonna Nnamani's match-high 22 kills that came on a .362 hitting percentage. Kristin Richard added 19 kills and 14 digs in the win to go along with Nnmani's 13 digs. Sara Dukes and Jennifer Harvey led the Cardinal at the net, combining for 12 total blocks between the two.

Potter Establishes New Program Record
With her 15th kill against Pepperdine on November 21, senior middle blocker Becky Potter broke the all-time kills mark at Santa Clara, surpassing the previous mark of 1,748 that was established Ynez Carrasco in 2000. Currently, Potter has 1,795 kills with one regular season match and the NCAA Tournament remaining. She also has 1,123 digs making her one of only six players in WCC history to record at least 1,600 kills and 1,000 digs in their career. Her .290 career hitting percentage ranks third in SCU history as does her 385 career total blocks.

Sousa Ranks Among WCC's Elite
Senior Kelli Sousa reached a setting plateau against Pepperdine on November 21 that only three others players in West Coast Conference history, as her 70 assists took her over the 5,000 assists mark for her career. She is only the second player in Santa Clara history to reach the milestone and currently ranks third in WCC history with her 5,148 career assists. She trails only Roz Pelayo of Santa Clara (5,732) and Tracy Homan of LMU (5,362). Becci Roehl of Pepperdine is the only other player in league history to have over 5,000 assists as she accumulated 5,020 in her four years with the Waves.

Luxton Posts 30 Digs in Win over LMU
Sophomore Libero Kristen Luxton did something against No. 16 LMU that nobody in SCU volleyball has done in the last decade. Her 30 digs against the Lions not only established a new career-high, but set a program-best for the last decade. No Bronco has recorded more than 29 digs since Lia Young posted 33 digs on November 19, 1993 against San Diego. The 30 digs eclipses her previous career best of 25 digs that was set on November 14th at Saint Mary's when she registered 25 digs in the Broncos 3-2 win over the Gaels.

In the Rankings
SCU remained constant for the fourth-straight week in the AVCA/USA Today Top-25 Coaches' Poll with their No. 13 national ranking. Santa Clara entered the season with its highest ever preseason national ranking of No. 14. The Broncos moved up to a season-high ranking No. 12 one month ago following victories over Saint Mary's and San Francisco at home.

Wallace Gets Fourth 20-Win Season
Head Coach Jon Wallace picked up his fourth 20-win season with the Broncos' 3-2 win over 16th-ranked Loyola Marymount. In only his fifth season on the Mission Campus, Wallace's four seasons with at least 20 wins is two more than any other coach in Santa Clara volleyball history. Former coach Annie Feller is the only other coach to have won at least 20 matches in two different seasons, attaining the feat in 1993 and 1998, her first and last years at the helm respectively. During his time at SCU, Wallace has a winning percentage of .725 (111-43) while his WCC record is even more impressive, compiling a win percentage of .814 (57-13), the second best winning percentage of any coach in WCC history. He trails only his former boss, Nina Matthies of Pepperdine, whose .851 win percentage (223-39) has come in her 19 years of coaching in the WCC. Wallace has guided the Broncos to five-straight NCAA Tournament appearances and two season records that rank among the top three in school history. 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. With the Broncos' 3-2 victory over Sacramento State on September 30, 2003, Wallace became only the second coach in Bronco Volleyball history to reach the 100-win plateau, joining Mary Ellen Murchison.

Five Broncos Earn All-WCC Honors
Toni Muratore, Becky Potter and Kelli Sousa all earned First Team All-West Coast Conference honors Tuesday morning while teammates Becky Biniek and Cassie Perret were each selected to the honorable mention squad. Voting was done by each of the eight coaches in the league. Potter's selection to the first team marks the third time in her career that she has garnered the award. The middle blocker from Clovis, Calif., was a member of the honorable mention team as a freshman following a season in which she was also selected as the league's Freshman of the Year. This year, as a senior, Potter finished third in the league in both points per game and hitting percentage, fifth in both kills and digs per game and seventh in blocks per game. Sousa's selection is her second-straight to the first team after a sophomore season in which the setter from Oakland, Calif., earned honorable mention honors. The senior currently ranks sixth in the country in assists per game while her 14.57 assists per game in league play led the conference. She became only the fourth player in league history to amass 5,000 career assists and is currently third all-time in league history for career assists with her 5,091. Muratore's first team selection is the second in as many seasons played for the sophomore from Merced, Calif. She earned first team honors as a freshman in 2001 before having to redshirt last season due to an ankle injury suffered in the preseason. In 2003 Muratore transitioned from middle blocker to outside hitter and finished seventh in the league with her 4.07 kills per game average in league play. Biniek, one of the team's tri-captains alongside Potter and Sousa, had another standout season for the Broncos giving her honorable mention accolades for the second-straight year. The middle blocker from Foster City, Calif., notched 2.25 kills and 1.04 blocks per game that helped the Broncos to a 11-3 mark in league play and their third-straight second place finish in the WCC. Perret's honorable mention selection is the first of her young career. The sophomore outside hitter from Menlo Park, Calif., is currently third on the team with her 2.81 kills per game and 2.46 digs per game. Her 16 kill performance that came on a .500 hitting percentage helped propel SCU to a 3-2 victory over No. 16 Loyola Marymount on Saturday, ensuring the Broncos' second place finish. The five SCU players selected to the 2003 All-WCC teams marks the fourth-straight season that at least five players have received postseason honors from the league office. Potter's four-time selection makes her only the fourth player in SCU history to receive postseason conference honors in each of her four seasons on the Mission Campus. She joins former Bronco standouts Stacey MacDonough (1985-88), Julie Jamile (1987-90) and Lia Young (1990-93). Only Potter and Young have ever been named to the first team on three separate occasions.

Tough Scheduling
Santa Clara has played one of the toughest schedules in the country in 2003, playing 16 of their 30 matches against team who were ranked in the top-25 at one point or another this season, including Tuesday's matchup with No. 6 Stanford. All nine of the Broncos losses have come to teams who were ranked in the top-25 this season. The Broncos have four victories against ranked opponents, defeating then No. 10 Arizona, then No. 18 San Diego twice, and most recently, No. 16 Loyola Marymount.