Sept. 29, 2005
Santa Clara, Calif. - The last time the Santa Clara women's volleyball team was on television, they won in a nail biting five games over Pepperdine. The Broncos are hoping that this time around they will have an easier time with the Waves, as both schools are slated to play this Sunday at 3 p.m. in front of a nationally televised audience. College Sports TV will carry the match, as part of its "Sunday Night Spikes AVCA Match of the Week" line-up.
This will be the first time the nation will be able to catch a glimpse of the red-hot Broncos (11-1, 0-0 WCC), ranked No. 15 CSTV/AVCA Top-25 Poll. While many would feel nervous about playing in front of a live televised audience, SCU head coach Jon Wallace believes that having the contest broadcasted for the whole country to see will only make his team more focused in this key West Coast Conference match-up.
"Our girls have worked probably harder this year than the last three to four years. They are excited to show the rest of the country how good they are and show everyone what they are made of," said Wallace. "I think they'll rise to the occasion to play in this match and I think it will heighten their concentration and level of focus to play at a real high level."
Before Santa Clara meets up with Pepperdine, however, they must first travel to Gersten Pavilion in Los Angeles, Calif. to face off with Loyola Marymount (11-2, 0-0 WCC) on Friday night. For both schools, this will be their WCC opener and the victor of the match would be considered the early favorite for the conference title. The Lions are coming off of an upset of then-No. 9 Hawai'i, the first time in eight years that an unranked team has been able to defeat the Rainbow Wahine at home. Santa Clara is prepared to go to battle against Loyola Marymount and anything less than a hard-fought battle would be unexpected. Sophomore opposite Heather Hughes leads the Lion attack, averaging 4.12 kills per game, to go along with 2.84 digs per game. Christianna Reneau and Jania Motton are also putting up great numbers this year, with 3.33 and 3.21 kills per game, respectively. Freshman setter K.C. Walsh is dishing out 12.24 assists per game and has the team hitting at a .230 clip on the year.
"Loyola is difficult every year. They are well coached and Steve Stratos does a really great job of preparing his teams to play. He knows the importance of this match," said Wallace. "They are coming off of a win against Hawai'i, and I know they lost the next night in three, but their record is 11-2. One of the things is that when you have a record like that going into conference, you feel confident... They are going to put up a fight and believe that they will be able to win."
Awaiting the Broncos after the LMU match will be perennial powerhouse Pepperdine (7-5) and although the perennial WCC powerhouse is not ranked, the Waves still pose a dangerous threat. Freshman outside hitter Julie Rubenstein was recently named the tournament MVP of the Sheraton Invitational after averaging 4.56 kills per game in four victories. Junior middle blocker Sophia Milo leads the team in blocks per game with 1.54 and also chips in 3.00 kills per game. Sophomore middle blocker Lecca Roberts has also had a solid year, producing 3.20 kills and 1.13 blocks per game.
"Pepperdine is still a team trying to find itself," said Wallace. "If Pepperdine can pass and set [Milo and Roberts], they have the potential to do well. We need to keep them off balance with some tough serving and make them be really predictable, setting the ball to the outside. I still think they are a team that hasn't played well yet and their best volleyball is ahead of them. I just hope it isn't on this Sunday."