October 22, 2005

No. 13 Santa Clara Maintains WCC Lead with Sweep of Saint Mary's

Oct. 22, 2005

Stats

Moraga, Calif. - Stepping up in a big-time match is nothing new for Brittany Lowe and she proved once again why she is a leading candidate for the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year after powering No. 13 Santa Clara to a three-game sweep over host Saint Mary's.  The 6-1 freshman outside hitter had a match-high 16 kills and hit an impressive .333 clip against one of the league's top defensive teams.  She also had eight digs and three aces in a great all-around performance.

"Brittany doesn't care where she plays, as long as she's on the court," said head coach Jon Wallace on his precocious freshman. "Tonight, she knew it was a big match to stay in first place [in conference] and she passed great, played great defense, and took some aggressive swings. I think that's what we are going to get out of her the entire night."

In a match that pitted the top two teams in the WCC, the Broncos withstood the hostile road crowd and came away with the 30-23, 30-27, and 30-24 victory. Santa Clara is on pace for the 2005 conference crown with tonight's victory, pushing its league record to 7-0 and holding a two-game edge over Saint Mary's. This is SCU's 11th straight victory and its overall record now stands at 18-1.

In addition to Lowe, Santa Clara received help from both sophomore Anna Cmaylo and senior Cassie Perret, as both tallied 11 kills and hit .474 on the night, while junior Kim McGiven added 10 kills. McGiven and Perret also totaled five blocks in the key WCC match-up. Junior Megan Pura also had an outstanding night in the middle, producing seven kills on a .417 clip and chipped in four blocks. Sophomore Caroline Walters had a strong presence in the back row and accumulated a match-high 15 digs. Sophomore Crystal Matich dished out 49 assists and guided the team to a .306 hitting percentage. Lowe and Perret also teamed up to account for seven of Santa Clara's eight aces.

"It was a complete team victory. Everyone did the job they were asked to do. The passing, the setting, and the hitting was really seamless," commented Wallace. "Everyone contributed in their own way and on every play, I thought we were applying a ton of pressure on Saint Mary's. Both teams fought really hard, but I felt that we wanted it a little bit more tonight."

In the opening frame, Saint Mary's used a near error-free attack to take a slight advantage in the opening stages of the match and two back-to-back blocks by the Gaels opened up a 13-11 lead. However, Santa Clara responded by immediately taking its offense to a new level, as the next following three points resulted in Bronco kills. With the score tied at 14-14, the SCU defense clamped down on SMC's hitters and after two back-to-back assist blocks by Perret and Pura gave the visitors the 17-13 edge, Saint Mary's head coach Rob Browning was forced to use a timeout. The pep talk he gave his team was no use, as Santa Clara continued to roll in Game One and a Pura kill secured the 30-23 victory.

Sophomore Anna Cmaylo proved to be virtually unstoppable tonight, putting away 11 balls at an impressive .474 clip.


To open up the second game, Santa Clara jumped out to a 6-1 lead, behind two early kills by McGiven. Saint Mary's burned on of its timeouts to try and stop the bleeding, but it would be no use, as two straight Perret aces and a SMC attacking error pushed the visitors lead to 9-1. Despite the Bronco's early domination, the Gaels battled back behind the strong play of outside hitter Missie Stidham. A kill by Stidham closed the gap to 16-19 for SMC, though Lowe really stepped up her game and was instrumental in providing SCU with some breathing room. Three straight kills by Lowe pushed the Santa Clara to a 22-16 advantage. The Gaels would not be discouraged and mounted a furious rally, coming to within two at 27-25 after a Stidham kill. McGiven ended any chance of a SMC victory, as her kill gave her squad the 30-27 triumph.

After the 10-minute intermission, the Broncos continued to apply the pressure on the home team with their crisp offense, as they opened up to a 3-0 advantage thanks to three straight kills by SCU players. Santa Clara continued to hold a tight lead for much of the frame, though the strong serving of Lowe enabled her team to go on a 5-2 run and make the score 22-17. The visitors ran on all cylinders for the rest of the match and a kill by Lowe ended the 30-24 Game Three.

Santa Clara returns to action next weekend when they host Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount at the Leavey Center to begin the second round of WCC play. The Broncos have a 5 p.m. date with the Waves on Friday, October 28, while the Lions will visit the Bay Area for a 7 p.m. start time on Saturday, October 29.