Oct. 20, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Although this Saturday's 1 p.m. showdown between the No. 15 Santa Clara volleyball team and the No. 20 San Diego Toreros is just the halfway point of the WCC season, it means nearly everything to the Broncos. Sitting two games back of the undefeated Toreros in the conference standings, the Broncos need a victory Saturday on the road to stay within striking distance with the final seven matches remaining.
Santa Clara (14-4, 4-2 WCC) brings a modest three-match winning streak into the Jenny Craig Pavilion on Saturday after dropping two of its first three matches to start the conference slate. SCU sits only two games back of first-place San Diego (16-4, 6-0 WCC), and a big win this weekend will allow the Broncos to pull to within a game of the Toreros as the teams enter the second half of conference play.
The Broncos earned their first weekend sweep of the WCC season last week with a nail-biting 3-2 victory over Gonzaga before closing things out with a 3-0 sweep of the Portland Pilots Saturday afternoon. The wins brought the Broncos over the .500 mark in WCC play for the first time all season. Middle blocker Anna Cmaylo paced the Broncos over the weekend, averaging 3.75 kills and 1.75 blocks a game over the two victories, while Kim McGiven and Brittany Lowe each recorded a double-double in the win over Gonzaga.
On the season, Cmaylo leads the WCC with a .431 hitting percentage (good for ninth in the nation), is third with 1.27 blocks a game, and sixth with 3.87 kills a game. Outside hitter Kim McGiven is third in the conference with 4.48 kills a game, and libero Caroline Walters' average of 4.50 digs a game also sits third in the WCC.
The 20th-ranked Toreros (16-4, 6-0 WCC) come into Saturday's showdown with the Broncos as the only undefeated team remaining in the West Coast Conference. Last weekend USD continued its unbeaten run through WCC play with a pair of 3-0 sweeps over Portland and Gonzaga. San Diego boasts the WCC's leader in kills in senior Kristen Carlson, whose 5.12 kills a game pace the circuit, while redshirt sophomore setter Jessica Nyrop is second in the conference with 13.49 assists per game.
Santa Clara leads the overall series 29-17 over San Diego, but although the Broncos have won eight of the last 12 meetings since the 2000 season, the Toreros have captured three of the last four. The two teams split last season's meetings, each capturing a victory in their respective home arenas.