Sept. 21, 2005
Santa Clara, Calif. - After a weekend of travel, the Santa Clara women's volleyball team will hit the road once again, this time flying across the country to partake in the Brown Invitational in Providence, Rhode Island. The Broncos (7-1), ranked No. 18 in the latest AVCA rankings released earlier this week, will look to rebound after a weekend that saw them lose for the first time in 2005. After easily defeating Idaho in three games to open up the Hampton Inn Utah Classic for its seventh consecutive victory, making it the best start in school history, Santa Clara fell to host Utah in five dramatic games.
Even in defeat, head coach Jon Wallace was able to find some positives in the match, namely freshman Brittany Lowe. A native of Yorba Linda, Calif., the 6-0 outside hitter has played an instrumental role in the Broncos early success, stabilizing the passing rotation, all while chipping in 2.55 kills and 3.48 digs per game. Against the Utes, she had a career high 19 digs to go along with her 11 kills. Despite her youth, Lowe has proven to be a valuable contributor this season, playing with the composure and savvy of a veteran.
"I was really impressed with the way Brittany Lowe competed in an away gym where there were a lot of hostile fans," said Wallace about Lowe's performance Saturday night. "As a freshman, to be someone who we rely on to pass to keep our team in system and make some plays, she did a great job."
Another underclassman that has made a huge impact on the SCU program is libero Caroline Walters. Just a sophomore, Walters has been a starter for the Broncos ever since she first stepped foot onto the mission campus in 2004, playing in 104 out of 105 games last season. With a year of collegiate experience under her belt, the 5-9 Los Gatos, Calif. native is one of the team's most consistent performers and is currently averaging a team-leading 4.38 digs per game.
"On the court, she's been the person that's been very steady for us night-in and night-out. She performs at a really high level," said Wallace. "She also has the ability to make the sensational plays which can be momentum changing and anytime you can get that in the back court, that person's pretty special."
In addition to her on-court performance, Walters has helped promote the Santa Clara volleyball program by virtue of growing up just 10 minutes from campus.
"She's a local kid and it's really spurred on a lot of interest in the community by having her here. Her family is huge; they come to support her at every match," said Wallace. "People who have followed her in high school are now coming to our matches."
Although locals won't get a chance to see Walters and the rest of the Broncos in action this weekend, they will be able to cheer for Santa Clara on Tuesday, September 27 when San Jose State visits the Leavey Center, as a part of the Rivalry Series between the two universities. In the meanwhile, SCU will be across the country participating in the Brown Invitational. It will be a homecoming of sorts for sophomore middle blocker Anna Cmaylo, who was born in New Jersey and has family scattered across the New England region. Santa Clara will take on Manhattan College at 10 a.m. PT on Friday, September 23 and later that day, faces host Brown University at 4 p.m. PT. The team will then take on Stony Brook University on Saturday, September 24 at 7 a.m. PT.
"We'll take these three matches and continue to work on what we've established," said Wallace regarding what he hopes to gain from this weekend. "We're trying to approach every match this year as far as working on our routine before every match and this gives us three opportunities to solidify our preparation for each match before going into conference play."
Manhattan College enters this weekend's match-up with the Broncos sporting a 2-7 record. The Jaspers recently competed in the Loyola Tournament, dropping all three matches that were played. They lost to Loyola-Chicago, Tulsa, and Columbia by identical 3-0 scores. Senior Maggie Pfeifer played well enough to make the all-tournament team. She is currently leading the team in kills per game (3.79) and is among their best blockers, with .55 blocks per game. Fellow senior Megan O'Dorisio chips in 3.32 kills and 2.29 digs per game. Friday's meeting will mark the first time these two schools will have played one another.
Brown owns a 0-7 record heading into its own invitational this weekend. At the recently completed Northwestern Invitational, the Bears went 0-3, falling to Northwestern, Southern Illinois, and Kentucky. Statistically, senior Lauren Gibbs leads her squad in kills per game with a 2.42 average. Three other Bears are averaging over two kills per game, providing senior setter Leigh Martin with balanced offensive options. Rikki Baldwin, Shawn Tulac, and Julie Mandolini-Trummel are averaging 2.35, 2.25 and 2.08 kills per game, respectively. Defensively, junior middle blocker Jessica Kondrick and defensive specialist Lizzie Laundry lead the team in blocks (.75) and digs (2.48) per game, respectively. The last time these two teams met, Santa Clara came away with a five game victory at home over Brown.
Stony Brook travels to Providence, RI with an overall record of 5-5. Last weekend, the Seawolves participated in the Marist Invitational, finishing with a 2-1 record. They defeated Lafayette and Marist by identical scores of 3-0 before falling to Dartmouth 3-0 in the finale of the two-day event. Sophomore outside hitter Morgan Sweany earned her second consecutive America East Player of the Week honor, after averaging 6.29 points, 5.75 kills, and 2.83 digs per game last weekend. For the season, Sweany is putting down a team-leading 4.77 balls per game. Three other Seawolves are averaging over two kills a game: senior outside hitters Melissa Votruba (2.91) and Sarah Votruba (2.51), and sophomore outside hitter Amy Oleksiej (2.14). Defensively, junior libero Claire Lindner is averaging 4.14 digs a game and S. Votruba is turning away .91 balls a game up at the net. This will be the first meeting between these two schools.