Oct. 2, 2005
Malibu, Calif. - Brittany Lowe is a player that understands how to perform well under pressure and in front of a nationally televised audience, her cool-under-fire attitude powered No. 15 Santa Clara to a 30-26, 25-30, 30-28, and 30-23 triumph over West Coast Conference rival Pepperdine. Setting career highs in both kills (24) and hitting percentage (.553), the precocious freshman was counted on in tight situations on both offense and defense and she came through magnificently in this key WCC match-up.
"She was very aggressive swinging. She got after the seam ball really quick and was able to tool line. She just hit really, really well," said head coach Jon Wallace on Lowe's play. "More importantly, I thought she passed great. She passed well with Caroline and Cassie and it opened up everybody else. That was partly why she was able to hit well. I was also really, really impressed with her defense."
Aiding Lowe in the victory was senior opposite Cassie Perret, who collected 21 kills on a .556 clip and middle blocker Anna Cmaylo who put down 16 kills at a .542 hitting percentage. Junior outside hitter Kim McGiven added 13 kills. As a whole, Santa Clara hit .382, with four players hitting over .500 for the match. Sophomore setter Crystal Matich had 70 assists in the win, while sophomore libero Caroline Walters contributed 19 digs. With the hardest road trip of the year out of the way and the Broncos coming out of the weekend with a perfect 2-0 record, Wallace believes that this is a great stepping stone towards winning the West Coast Conference.
"They want to win the conference and are playing hard every night to accomplish their goals," said Wallace. "I'm really proud of how they learned from the Utah loss in the sense that we've really stayed together, stayed confident and stayed aggressive throughout the entire match."
In the opening frame, both teams came out firing on all cylinders and Pepperdine managed to build slim 12-9 lead. However, the Bronco offense kicked into high gear and outscored the Waves 9-1 to take an 18-13 edge. Great passing by the trio of Lowe, Perret, and Walters allowed Matich to have her pick of attackers and tough serving by SCU did not allow the home team to get into much of an offensive rhythm. After a Lowe ace to make the score 25-18, Pepperdine took a timeout to slow down the Bronco attack. The Waves were able to cut their deficit to 27-25 after a long rally that ended in their favor, but clutch kills by Cmaylo and Lowe allowed Santa Clara to take Game One.
Two early kills each by Cmaylo and Perret kept Santa Clara tied with Pepperdine in the early stages of the second game, but behind a loud and boisterous crowd, the home team bolted out to a 15-11 lead. The Waves continued to build upon their advantage, taking a 20-14 advantage after a Pepperdine kill, forcing Wallace to call a timeout to re-energize his troops. The Waves continued to maintain a healthy margin for the rest of the game and tied the match up 1-1 after a Pepperdine kill.
Perret opened up the third game with a smartly placed dink and Matich continued to feed the hot hand, as Perret hammered down three additional kills to help her team keep pace with the Waves. The two WCC foes battled back and forth in the third frame, as no one was able to garner much of a lead until Pepperdine fought for back-to-back points to take a 23-21 lead. However, the Broncos did not back down from the challenge and managed to produce a late rally behind Lowe's superb play. The freshman had four late kills to power her team to a thrilling Game Three triumph.
Lowe picked up where she left off in the fourth game, tallying three of the team's first six points off of kills. Trailing 11-12, Santa Clara once again received a boost from Lowe, after her kill tied the match at 12-12. The following play resulted in another Bronco point after Cmaylo and Matich teamed up for a block and it was a lead that the visitors never relinquished. The SCU advantage grew to seven after a Walters service ace made the score 27-20. Pepperdine sealed its fate after a service error gave Santa Clara the game and the match.
Santa Clara improves to 13-1 on the year and 2-0 in conference play. The Broncos return to action next Friday and Saturday when they host Gonzaga and Portland at the Leavey Center. Game time for the Bulldogs will be at 6:30 p.m., while the first serve against the Pilots will be at 7 p.m.