Oct. 7, 2005
Santa Clara, Calif. - Serving is an underrated and underappreciated skill in volleyball, as many points are scored off of hard-hit attacks or solid defense up at the net. However, the Santa Clara women's volleyball team used their abilities behind the service line to dominate West Coast Conference foe Gonzaga 3-0 tonight at the Leavey Center. Behind Crystal Matich's career-tying six service aces, the Broncos wreaked havoc on the Bulldogs serve receive, winning easily 30-20, 30-18, and 30-19 thanks to a season-high 13 aces on the night. In addition to Matich, Cassie Perret had four aces on the night, while Kim McGiven, Brittany Lowe, and Kristen Luxton added a service winner.
"I think our servers are very comfortable at home. We work at it for a long time everyday in practice," said head coach Jon Wallace. "Every one of our servers went after it aggressively tonight and we want our kids to know to be aggressive, but also to be good at the same time. They definitely were."
Three Santa Clara players tallied double-digit kills on the night, lead by Lowe who put down 13 balls. Perret added 11, while McGiven chipped in 10. Annalisa Muratore, who has been slowly coming back from a torn meniscus, saw significant playing time against the Bulldogs, hitting .727 on the night and accumulating eight kills in only two games played. As a team, the Broncos hit .387 and Matich dished out 49 assists. Caroline Walters dug a match-high 19 balls on the night. The quality of play impressed the coaching staff, especially coming after a difficult road trip where Santa Clara defeated Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine in difficult and hostile environments.
"I'm really proud of how our girls came out in tonight's match. They had the same focus and desire as they did last weekend. I thought we might have had a letdown after last weekend, but we didn't. I give total credit to [team captains] Kim McGiven and Kristen Luxton for getting our team ready, emotionally and mentally, to play at a high level tonight."
In the opening frame, the Bulldogs were relentless in their play, matching the Broncos point for point. Clinging to a slim 18-17 lead after a Brittany Lowe kill, Santa Clara reeled off a 12-3 run to dash any thoughts of a Game One upset. McGiven served the final four points of the game and SCU took a 1-0 lead in the match after a Matich kill made the score 30-20.
Behind the strong serving of Matich, Santa Clara had no trouble disposing of Gonzaga in the second game. The 5-11 sophomore had three consecutive aces to pace her team to the easy 30-18 triumph. In all, she had five service aces alone in the second game. Muratore was also responsible for the lopsided score, as her offensive prowess up at the net gave the Bulldogs fits. A kill by Perret ended the frame for Santa Clara and gave the home team a 2-0 lead heading into the 10-minute intermission.
Gonzaga came out of the locker room determined to be more competitive with the home team and held a small 5-4 edge after Lowe mishandled a ball during serve receive. However, Lowe made up for that mistake by putting down the ball to make the score 8-7 in favor of SCU and Santa Clara would never relinquish its lead again. Perret served for five straight points to increase the Bronco lead to 17-9 and the pressure continued to be applied from behind the service line after that, causing the Bulldogs to run many out of system plays. The match ended on a Muratore kill.
Santa Clara improves to 14-1 on the year and 3-0 in the West Coast Conference, while Gonzaga falls to 9-8 in 2005 and 1-1 in conference play. The Broncos return to action tomorrow evening against Portland for a 7 p.m. date at the Leavey Center.