Volleyball

 
October 6, 2005

Bronco Bits: Crystal Matich

Oct. 6, 2005

One of the reasons why Santa Clara (13-1, 2-0 WCC) has experienced so much success in 2005 is because of its potent offense. With hitters like senior Cassie Perret, junior Kim McGiven, sophomore Anna Cmaylo, and freshman Brittany Lowe, it is easy to see why SCU accumulates 17.22 kills a game, fifth-best in the country. However, having terminating hitters is only half the battle; a team must also have a great setter to direct the offense and luckily for head coach Jon Wallace, he has one of the best young playmakers in the country in Crystal Matich. The sophomore split the setting duties with senior Kristen Luxton last season, but impressed the coaching staff enough to earn the starting nod at the beginning of the year.  Through 14 matches, Matich is averaging 13.89 assists per game, good for No. 6 in the nation. While her high assists numbers are remarkable, a better indication of Matich's setting abilities lie in the team's hitting percentage and with the Broncos putting the ball away at an efficient .319 clip, it's safe to say that she is performing at an All-American level.  In addition, she's also leading the WCC in aces with .71 per game and she also records 1.09 kills per game.

Before Santa Clara hosts Gonzaga and Portland this weekend, Matich sat down for a quick interview to discuss her favorite food, her various nicknames, and much more.

1. How did you spend you summer?

I went home and I got a personal trainer. He worked with me three days a week and then I'd work out myself the other. The last day of the week I'd give my body a rest. We'd do cardio, plyos and all the stuff you need to do to get into shape. So I couldn't get a job.

Where is home?

Home is Santa Rosa, Calif. It's about two and a half hours from here. So I basically worked out all summer, played a lot of grass volleyball. Not too much beach, because there's no where to play in Santa Rosa, so a lot of grass. I tried to get into the gym as much as I could, but there wasn't a lot of opportunity for me to get on an actual court. So I played a lot of grass, which helped different parts of my game.

Which parts of your game did it help?

It was reading where the hitter would attack, or where I should play defense. It really refined my defensive abilities. I got more comfortable with hitting, since I'm a setter, not a hitter.

Didn't it get boring though, just working out with a personal trainer...

That's the thing. It would have probably gotten boring if it were three months of it, but it was only four or five weeks because my summer was so short. So it was a lot of fun knowing that I'm getting in shape for winning conference. That's what I was keeping in mind the entire time I was working out. I'd be like, "Oh, winning conference, I'll do these sprints and then pass out because we're going to win conference! I'll do it for that!" So I wanted to be in shape for that. It didn't get boring, but it got pretty tiring.

So you spent most of the summer working on your game...

I did fun things though! I went wakeboarding and I hung out with my family a ton, since I never get to see them during the year. So I didn't just confine myself to a workout bubble!

Does your family come down at all for your matches?

Yeah, my parents buy season tickets for every home game and come down and watch me play. It's hard for them to travel to away games because they work, but they are my biggest fans. And my brother too!

Did you go on any type of vacation?

We didn't go to any big places this summer. We just went to our usual wake boarding trip, which is to Whiskeytown Lake, which is in Redding, Calif., which was actually where I was born. They have the best lake there, it's 115 degrees and the water is beautiful. So we just went there for a week. We also just went on small little trips as a family. It was hard to go on long trips though. But I did go to Washington, where my cousins are from, to a Lavender Festival. I went with my grandma, my aunt, my mom, my cousins... it wasn't really for me, but...

So what's a Lavender Festival for those of us who do not know?

There were about nine or ten different fields of lavender that you go to and there is everything you can imagine that's made out of lavender: lavender cake, lavender soap, lavender toothbrushes or something random like that! Also you can pick the lavender in the fields. There was an overload of lavender, but my grandmother loved it and my mom loved it. I just went along because I love to be with them.

So it was more like a girl weekend than anything else...

Exactly. My only girl cousin was there also and we got to hang out. It was kind of funny to walk around the lavender fields. I don't know... it was just a random trip that I went on for a week.

2. Do you have any nicknames?

My dad calls me Sparky. I don't even know why!

How long has he called you that?

Since I was little. But he doesn't just call me Sparky. He calls me Potato Bug and all these random names, but Sparky has always been the main one.

And you respond to all of these nicknames?

I do! He's just that type of a dad where he'll come up with these random nicknames. I've never really had nickname when I'm a team, but I now have a new one called nubs. Taylor [O'Brien] calls me that because I chew my skin on my fingers.

So since you don't really have any nicknames on the team, what girl has the most creative or funny sounding nickname?

We call Kim [McGiven] so many different names, but we call her Wretched and we call her Weasel. We call her Wretched Human or some other really random names!

Any particular reason...?

It's not insulting or saying that she's wretched, it's just something really funny that we call her.

So it's kind of like a team joke?

Yeah, pretty much. We have so many inside jokes.

3. What are three things that you'll need to survive as a typical Santa Clara student?

I need my cell phone so I can find out if practice is canceled, if practice is early, we have a meeting, if my mom called, if Anna [Cmaylo] called saying she can't make practice... just a number of things! You always gotta have your cell phone! Let's see, what else I need... I want to say I need books for class, but...

That's a given.

Yeah, that's a given. I would need my volleyball backpack. It represents Santa Clara volleyball and carries all my important necessities. And the last thing is my Rainbow flip-flops because I always wear them. They are probably going to die out on me, but that's the only thing I can think of out of the given stuff. And all my practice stuff is in the team room, so I never have to lug that around! So the cell phone is key!

4. So what CD are you most embarrassed to admit that you own?

I'd say the Aqua CD with the Barbie Girl song on it. I don't know how I have it or how I got it! Maybe my friend gave it to me or something and I have it. It's really sad!

Do you ever find yourself listening to it when no one is around and you are all alone?

Well it's not the CD, but I do listen to the song! It comes up on my I-Pod and I'll be like, "Skip!" I do have that CD in my car and I guess when I'm having one of those random days, I'll stick it in and listen to it.

What type of music do you normally listen to?

Well I listen to a lot of different music. I grew up with country and a lot of rock and roll, like Led Zepplin and Rolling Stones and stuff. I still listen to alternative music like Jimmy Eat World, Greenday... I like rap. Of course you've got to say you like rap. I pretty much like every type of music. And Dave [Matthews Band]...

Do you have a favorite artist or band?

Yeah. Garth Brooks. I love him!

Isn't he a bit cheesy though?

True, but he's song are so pure and beautiful! If I had to listen to something for an entire day, I'd listen to Garth. All that rock stuff just gives you a headache.

So final answer is Garth Brooks?

Yes. Deep down inside, I love Garth Brooks.

5. So Halloween is coming up soon and I hear that the Santa Clara women's volleyball team has a tradition where you guys dress up and you get to practice in your costumes. So what do you plan on practicing in on October 31st?

Well this year, I think we are all going to dress up the same. So we are all trying to think of similar outfits that we could wear. Some of us are thinking... well I can't exactly answer what I would wear, but some of the ideas that are being thrown around are different animals that represent you. My team decided that an alien, which isn't an animal, would best represent me! Other ones were male Disney characters, like Aladdin, or the Hunchback.

The Broncos are hitting .319 as a team, thanks to the smart setting decision of Matich.


Why male characters?

Because the typical thing to do is to be a cute little princess or be Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

So the volleyball team wants to buck the trend?

Yes! We want to do the opposite of that. We always dress up as a team for practice and then do whatever we want for Halloween night. So I don't know what I would actually be...

What did you dress up as last year?

I was a ballerina. Anna, Annalisa [Muratore], Cassie [Perret] and I were ballerinas for Halloween. They were the largest ballerinas I've ever seen! I mean there were these tall ballerinas in their tutus! It was so funny.

Was it hard to practice last year because everyone was all dressed up?

I think it brings a new level of fun to the game because we can still be competitive and play our game, but we're dressed in really weird costumes. I mean the practices were still intense when we were in our ballerina costumes. So the weirdest thing is that we'd be diving for the ball and our tights would get runs in them and we'd be like, "Oh now, my tights! My tutu fell off!" But we'd still be playing hard-core. It's different. A little odd, but still good. It's really funny and I'm looking forward to it this year.

6. One place that I have never visited, but would love to is...

That's a good question. I have tons of places that I'd like to go to, but if I had to choose, I'd say Norway. I have family in Norway, cousins twice removed or whatever, just really random. My grandma is from Norway. It just seems so pretty and ever since I was little, I'd do reports on Norway and dress up in my little Norwegian outfit. I'd see pictures from my grandma and it would look so pretty.

What is your favorite place that you've visited so far?

I haven't been outside of the United States so I can't say anywhere in Europe or anything. I guess I could say Hawai'i because it's gorgeous, of course. But that's the typical thing that everyone would say. What I truly think is beautiful in my mind is Tule Lake, which a lot of people won't agree! That's actually where my grandparents are from. It's a small town on the border of Oregon with nothing but potato fields and wide open space. All the town people know each other and it's so pretty. The air is so pure and I love it there. So that's the most beautiful place, I feel.

7. Who is your favorite Santa Clara athlete to watch?

I could say one person, but then another person would get mad... I have to pick one?

Or a couple...

Oh ok! Because it's just so hard to pick one! I love watching Anna [Cmaylo] play because I've watched Anna since I was a junior in high school, because we were on the same club team. I've watched her grow and become the person that she is today. I love watching her get better and her mental game improved a lot. She used to be this quiet person, nice to everyone and let people push her around. But now she's stronger and gaining that confidence on the court. I love watching Brody Angley play and Mitch [Henke], two guys on the basketball team. Mitch is this huge guy that just takes control and Brody is the little guy that you wouldn't think does anything, but is dominating as much as the 6-4 guys are. And then I've got to say Kyle Jensen, on the baseball team. He's a pitcher. I love watching him play because I know him personally and I know he loves baseball. I could say he loves baseball more than he loves volleyball. He would quit everything in his entire life just to play baseball.

So who is your favorite volleyball player, outside of Santa Clara?

I joke about this, but what Anna [Cmaylo] and I want to do when we get older is become the next Misty May and Kerri Walsh. We joke about it, but in the back of our minds, that's what we really want to do! We want to be really good beach players. It's not like we're even close to that because we don't even play beach, but I've always admired Misty May and how she's made a name for herself. Ever since I was little, I was never into the big names of volleyball. I played it, but I never really got into it and that was the only name that I remembered. My high school coach used to play with her, so she would always tell me, "Oh, you have to be as good as Misty May!" So it was always a name that I heard and it wasn't that I looked up to her and wanted to be exactly like her, but I just heard it a lot and I thought it would be cool if I reached the level that she played at.

8. If you could have one last meal made for you, what would it be?

My dad always makes this meal that's with noodles, not spaghetti noodles, but I forget what type they are called, with tomatoes, not tomato sauce, and chopped up ground beef in it. It's what he would make for me before volleyball practice when I was little and it was my favorite meal. I haven't had it for over a year though. So that would be.

So nothing fancy, just good `ol grub?

Nope. Just noodles and tomatoes with ground beef! Anything else is too fancy for me. If it wasn't that, then I was going to say Shepard's Pie that my mom makes. It's so good!