Aug. 26, 2006
FRESNO, Calif. - The Santa Clara University volleyball team lived up to the hype of its six returning starters in the season opener Friday night, as Kim McGiven and All-Americans Anna Cmaylo and Crystal Matich paced the assault on the Pacific Tigers from all fronts on the way to a 3-0 (30-21, 30-24, 30-20) victory at the Fresno State Invitational.
The victory gives the Broncos some momentum early on as they head into a Saturday evening match against No. 25 Kansas State at 6 p.m. from Fresno State's North Gym.
Matich showed once again why she is one of the top setters in the nation, dishing out 39 assists on the night as the Broncos hit a combined .344 against the Tigers. Three Broncos other than Matich hit over .400 for the night, as McGiven made 17 kills at a .485 clip while Cmaylo buried nine chances in hitting .467 for the night and Annalisa Muratore hit .556 with six kills.
"Crystal set really well, and I thought she did a nice job for us out there and our hitting was really good tonight," said head coach Jon Wallace, who moved five wins closer to reaching Mary Ellen Murchison's (1978-88) record for most wins by an SCU head coach (162). "We went back and forth in the first game, then got stronger and finished it off. We went in spurts most of the way, and they were hanging with us, but then we lifted it up a notch and were able to pull away."
Game one was a neck-and-neck affair up until the halfway point, when a Walters ace sparked a five-point run which put the Broncos in control 19-14. From there, a pair of kills from both McGiven and Matich kept the Tigers from getting any closer than a four-point deficit the rest of the way to capture the opener.
Santa Clara fell behind 7-4 early in the second game before consecutive kills by McGiven and Muratore got things rolling as SCU took 11 of the next 14 points to go up 15-10. Again, the duo of McGiven and Cmaylo took over as the Broncos kept the Tigers at bay the rest of the way.
In the finale, an 8-8 stalemate was broken by another McGiven kill before Brittany Lowe notched a couple of aces as the Broncos ran out to a 13-7 advantage. After Pacific threatened to climb back into things by cutting it to 14-10, the Bronco defense tightened up, forcing a couple of errors and getting a service ace from freshman Lauryn Dowd to widen the gap to 19-10. At that point the Broncos again held off the Tigers to start the year off with the win.
Defensively, Cmaylo paced the Broncos with four block assists while Muratore added a pair along with a solo block. Dowd stepped up with three blocks of her own as the team limited the Tigers to a .097 team hitting percentage. Lowe led SCU with 13 digs in the contest while libero Caroline Walters recorded 11 digs.
13 Broncos saw action on the court Friday night, as eight players recorded a kill and 11 made at least one dig. Along with Dowd, who started the contest, fellow freshmen Heather Middleton and Lindsy Evans also made their SCU debuts, highlighted by Evans serving up a pair of aces in her first collegiate action.
"It was good for a lot of our girls to see action tonight, make some plays and just get any nervousness or jitters out of the way," Wallace said. "After tonight they will be stronger going into tomorrow's match against Kansas State."
Following tomorrow's match against the Wildcats, the Broncos will close out tournament action against the host Fresno State Bulldogs at 1 p.m. Sunday.