Sept. 12, 2006
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Bearing down and showing unmatched grit in a stifling, 100-degree Spartan Gym, the No. 8 Santa Clara volleyball team overcame an 0-2 deficit behind the career-high performance of Anna Cmaylo and capture a 3-2 (28-30, 28-30, 30-27, 30-19, 15-6) victory over a very game San Jose State Spartans squad.
"I think we found our groove, both mentally and emotionally," head coach Jon Wallace said of the spark the Broncos showed in making the comeback. "This team has great chemistry, they all like each other, and I thought the girls had their backs against the wall, and I give them credit for coming off very calm, not panicking, and staying very patient, which allowed them to play their best. That's what we talked about after the match, they found a good, comfortable and emotional state in themselves with which to play this match, where they trusted in their abilities to take over."
Cmaylo unloaded a career-high 26 kills on the Spartans, hitting an amazing .571 Tuesday night. Outside hitters Kim McGiven (13 kills, 11 digs) and Brittany Lowe (15 kills, 10 digs) each posted double-doubles, and setter Crystal Matich nearly posted a triple-double, dishing out 67 assists, putting down 10 kills (at a .625 rate), making seven digs and serving up three aces.
"Without a doubt, Anna carried us, she gave us the momentum-building hits and came up with a huge block in game five that finally moved us apart from them," Wallace said of the star middle blocker. "She was just automatic and she knew it."
"I thought Crystal struggled a bit in games one and two, but I give her a ton of credit for settling down in the last three games and being able to dig and block more balls," Wallace added about his junior setter. "I'm really proud of the way she really battled through to make this happen."
Annalisa Muratore had 13 kills and seven blocks as well for SCU, while freshman Lindsy Evans continued her strong play, hitting .615 with eight kills, four blocks and two aces to contribute to a tremendous all-around team effort.
The win was also an historic one, as it was the 163rd career victory for Wallace, putting him alone atop the Santa Clara volleyball career wins list, surpassing former coach Mary Ellen Murchison (1978-88). Fittingly, it came against the very school that dealt Wallace his first defeat in his head-coaching debut seven years ago.
"Without a doubt this one's going to be memorable," Wallace said. "The first match of my career was at San Jose State and we lost in three straight, so now to break that record against San Jose State I guess is a pretty cool thing."
SCU got off to an early 6-4 lead in game one, but the Spartans battled back to take an 13-9 lead after a trio of aces from libero Jessie Shull and a kill by Courtney Lorusso which prompted Wallace to burn a timeout in an effort to calm the Broncos down.
Sure enough, the Broncos roared back to life, conceding a point to the Spartans before making a four-point run highlighted by a pair of aces from Evans, forcing SJSU to call a timeout of their own.
Things seesawed once the teams returned to play, but Santa Clara managed to reclaim the lead at 17-16 after a Matich kill. Kills by Megan Pura and Cmaylo got the lead to 22-19 as the Spartans used their final timeout of the game to attempt to regroup.
An Annalisa Muratore kill gave the Broncos a five-point lead at 28-23, and things looked to be in hand, but the Spartans put together a run that featured three attack errors by Santa Clara, stealing the game's final seven points to capture the first stanza 30-28.
Game two picked up where the first left off as the Spartans jumped out to a 7-4 lead, eventually extending it to 14-9, sending the Broncos to the bench once more for a timeout.
SCU continued to stay in striking range, but struggled to put together a solid string of points that would get them over the hump. Despite cutting the lead to two at 25-23 and forcing a San Jose State timeout, the Broncos still could not capitalize as the Spartans ran off the next two points to extend the lead to four. They managed to hold off SCU, as Jennifer Sentfleben's kill gave SJSU the second game, 30-28.
Needing a win to stay alive entering the third stanza, the Broncos battled neck-and-neck with the Spartans for much of it. The Spartans, though, grabbed the lead at 18-16, but Santa Clara continued to battle, knotting things up at 22-apiece when Muratore and Lowe combined for a crucial block. Behind the steady serving of Taylor O'Brien, SCU fed off of the momentum with a five-point run featuring three kills from Muratore that made it 28-23.
San Jose State answered with a four-point run of its own, threatening to steal the third and potentially deciding game, but a thunderous kill by Lowe followed by a Spartan attack error gave the Broncos the 30-27 win and a new lease on life.
Santa Clara opened the fourth game fired up and took a 10-7 on the strength of three straight points, forcing San Jose State to burn their first timeout. Fueled by the attacking of Cmaylo and the wall of Muratore and Matich, the Broncos went up 22-15, as the momentum began leaning towards the SCU end. An 8-4 run was capped by a McGiven kill as SCU took the fourth stanza 30-19 to force the deciding fifth game.
With the final stanza only going to 15 points, the team getting off to the fast start would be at the advantage. An Evans block followed by a Spartan attack error gave SCU the quick 2-0 lead, and another Cmaylo kill made it 3-1 two rallies later. Kills by McGiven and Matich helped extend the lead to 6-2 as the Spartans burned a timeout to regroup.
Following the break, nothing was stopping the Broncos as they had fully regained their swagger, punishing the Spartan defense with undiggable kills and morale-crushing blocks up front. SCU took a 13-6 lead and following an SJSU attack error, Nichole Clark served up an ace for the deciding point, giving SCU the game at 15-6.
The Broncos will return to action Thursday night as they begin play in the Stanford Invitational with a 7 p.m. match against No. 7 Stanford at Maples Pavilion.