Nov. 4, 2005
Portland, Ore. - The dream season continues for the No. 11 Santa Clara women's volleyball team tonight after they fended off a scrappy Portland squad in three games up in Portland, Ore. Not only does the victory move the Broncos one step closer to capturing a West Coast Conference title, the first since 2000, but it also tied a school record for the most consecutive wins in a season at 14. SCU holds an impressive 21-1 overall mark and an undefeated 10-0 record in the WCC.
"It wasn't the best game that we played this year, but there were moments where the girls dialed in and got the job down," admitted head coach Jon Wallace. "In the third game, we were down 21-17, but the team gave it their all and tied the match up. We played a high level at times and I'm glad we came away with the win."
Recently crowned WCC Player of the Month, freshman Brittany Lowe lead all players in the 30-26, 30-13, and 33-31 win with 16 kills on a .467 hitting percentage. Senior Cassie Perret chipped in 14 kills at an even higher .632 clip. The pair also got it done in the back row as well, accounting for a combined 22 digs on the night. Sophomore Annalisa Muratore added nine kills on a .421 hitting percentage. Defensively, sophomore Caroline Walters dug a team-high 12 balls, while junior Megan Pura was solid up at the net, posting a match-high seven blocks. Senior Kristin Luxton started in place of sophomore Crystal Matich at the setters position and did a great job running the offense, dishing out 48 assists and leading the team to a .357 hitting percentage.
In the opening frame, the high ranking of the Broncos did not deter the Pilots from attempting the upset, as the two teams battled back and forth well into the game. With the score knotted up at 24-24, Perret recorded a kill to start a 4-0 Santa Clara run that effectively ended any chances for the home team to snatch game one. A Portland error gave the visitors the 30-26 victory.
After such a difficult opening set, Santa Clara dominated Portland in game two, opening an 11-3 lead and never allowing the Pilots to get back into the match. A series of hitting errors by the home team enabled the Broncos to pull away at the beginning, but their offense heated up, with Lowe, Perret, and Muratore leading the way. Junior Kim McGiven served the final three points of the game to give her them the easy 30-13 win.
After the 10-minute intermission, the Pilots settled down and pushed its way to a 14-10 lead. That edge held steady to 21-17 after McGiven ran into the Portland block. Once again, it was Perret who jumped started the Bronco offense, as a kill by the opposite hitter sparked a Santa Clara comeback that would eventually lead them to tie the match up at 27-27. The Pilots were able to reach game point two plays later, but Lowe came up big for her team with a kill to knot up the game at 29-29. The two dueling squads traded points until a Lowe ace ended the thrilling third frame at 31-29.
Santa Clara continues its swing up the Pacific Northwest tomorrow evening when the team visits Gonzaga University. Game time is set for 8 p.m.