Oct. 26, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Whatever the No. 21 Santa Clara volleyball team did in meetings and practices between Saturday's tough loss and Thursday's emphatic 3-0 (30-18, 30-21, 30-22) win over the San Francisco Dons, it worked wonders. The "Big Three" of Anna Cmaylo, Kim McGiven, and Brittany Lowe powered the Broncos to an inspired victory.
The Broncos (15-5, 5-3 WCC), now alone in second place in the conference standings after losses by both Saint Mary's and Loyola Marymount, return to action Saturday afternoon as they battle the Gaels in a 1 p.m. contest at the Leavey Center. The Dons (19-6, 3-5 WCC) fell into fifth in the WCC.
McGiven led the squad with 13 kills, hitting at a .419 clip while Cmaylo put down 12 kills at a clip of .550 to go with three blocks. Lowe also posted 12 kills to go with six digs, but made her biggest impact of the night at the service line, serving up seven aces on the night. Freshman Lauryn Dowd hit .500 with six kills and eight digs, while fellow rookie Lindsy Evans passed out 43 assists and engineered the team's .374 hitting percentage on the night. Caroline Walters paced the team defensively with 11 digs.
"This win means a lot to this team, as tough as we are, we needed to play well and not only improve our quality of volleyball but also our self-esteem, and I think we got off to a good start in doing that tonight," said head coach Jon Wallace. "We're not where we need to be, but tonight's a good start of us climbing back and getting on the ball here."
"We were better physically today, than we have been," Cmaylo said after the win. "It really helps when people are putting balls away and passing really well, but on top of that we just had really good energy out there."
SCU came out smoking in the opening stanza, as two kills from Cmaylo made it 4-2 Broncos and the team never really looked back from there. A pair of kills from Megan Pura got the lead to 10-4, and moments later, back-to-back kills from McGiven gave SCU an eight-point lead at 13-5.
The Broncos coasted the rest of the way, as a 3-0 run in the later stages of the game put them in front 27-16, and a few rallies later, a Cmaylo kill followed by a Dowd ace gave SCU the first frame.
The Dons bounced back at the start of game two, taking an early 5-2 lead. But behind a service ace from Lowe and a McGiven kill, the Broncos battled back to knot things up at 6-apiece. A 5-0 run featuring a block from Cmaylo and Dowd along with a pair of Lowe kills forced San Francisco to call a timeout with the score 11-6 SCU.
Cmaylo welcomed the Dons back to the court with three straight kills, widening the Bronco lead to eight at 14-6. An attack error two rallies later extended the SCU run to 10-0, as USF called their second and final timeout of the game in an effort to slow the Bronco attack.
After a Don attack error made it 17-6 Broncos, a (No. 11) kill finally ended the SCU run after 11 consecutive points. USF managed to put together a 6-0 run, benefiting from a pair of Bronco errors to cut the deficit to five at 20-15. The Bronco lead got down to 22-18 before the dependable Cmaylo came through with a clutch kill to stop the bleeding. Dowd followed with a kill of her own to get the lead back to six, and a Lowe ace continued the run. The teams traded points for the next few rallies, before a Pura kill gave the Broncos game point, which they converted on the ensuing rally thanks to a USF attack error.
Game three was Santa Clara all the way, as the Broncos took advantage of Don attack errors and used kills from Cmaylo and Dowd to get out to an 8-3 lead. Yet USF refused to roll over, making a 6-2 run to cut the Bronco lead to one at 10-9.
Lowe's kill and an ace from Walters got SCU some breathing room at 12-9, and moments later, the Broncos extended their lead to 17-12 after kills from Dowd, Lowe, and a block from Cmaylo and McGiven. But the Dons again crept closer, getting a 4-0 run capped by an ace from Haley Carroll to cut things to one at 18-17. Things stayed close up to the 22-21 mark, but a 3-1 run kick-started by a Dowd kill and an ace from Lowe got the SCU lead to 25-21, prompting the Dons to burn a timeout.
Lowe again served up an ace upon play resuming, and the ensuing kill from McGiven increased the lead to six at 27-21. A USF attack error and Cmaylo kill brought the Broncos to match point at 29-21, and two rallies later, a kill from Evans secured the Bronco victory.
"As a team, we still have high expectations for ourselves, and a lot of that comes down to what we can do together," said McGiven. "I thought Caroline [Walters] did a great job leading the team tonight, and if she can continue to do that the rest of the year, it is really going to help us. Offensively, Anna and I need to carry a heavy load and bring it every match."