Oct. 28, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Karma came full circle in Saturday afternoon's volleyball match between Santa Clara and Saint Mary's at the Leavey Center. After the Gaels came back from a 0-2 hole to win in five back on Sept. 28, the No. 21 Broncos returned the favor today, recovering from a sluggish start and capturing a riveting 3-2 (18-30, 25-30, 30-27, 30-28, 15-12) decision.
The Broncos will now travel to the greater Los Angeles area next weekend, battling the Pepperdine Waves in a nationally-televised match Thursday night, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. on CSTV, then finishing the weekend off with a 1 p.m. match at Loyola Marymount on Saturday, Nov. 4.
Brittany Lowe had her finest performance of the season to date as she put down a career-high 26 kills at a clip of .353 along with 16 digs and four blocks. Kim McGiven posted her seventh double-double of the year with 20 kills and 18 digs, while freshman Lauryn Dowd had a career-high 13 kills. Caroline Walters led the way from the back row again, making 20 digs, providing a strong defensive effort combined with the 12 digs of Taylor O'Brien.
"It feels really, really good, everyone was very happy in the locker room afterwards, because during the break we talked about how the first two games didn't matter and that we could still come back and win," Lowe said after the victory. "We worked so hard in our last few practices, and it feels so good to win."
"Brittany Lowe played with an amazing amount of aggression today, got a lot of rattles through the net, and that gave our team a real positive boost," said head coach Jon Wallace. "That aggressiveness fed into the rest of the girls."
Santa Clara showed significant grit and character in plowing ahead despite being outblocked 25.5-9.0 by Saint Mary's. Three separate blocks by the Gaels broke open a 4-3 affair in the opening stanza, fueling an 8-1 run that essentially carried SMC to a win in game one. The Broncos were limited to a .220 hitting percentage while the Gaels hit .444 behind Missie Stidham making eight of her 21 kills on the day in the first game. After the initial SMC run, the Broncos never got within less than seven points in dropping the first game 30-18.
The Broncos opened up the second game with a 4-1 burst behind a pair of kills from Lowe and a block from Anna Cmaylo, who led the team with four on the day, and Dowd. But the Gaels answered with a 4-0 run to take the one-point lead, and from that point, the game became a dogfight as the score was tied a total of 10 times and the teams exchanged the lead seven times up until a handling error on SCU gave the Gaels a 23-22 lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way. A crucial 3-0 run gave Saint Mary's a four-point advantage at 27-23, and a few points later, a block by Megan Burton and Cassandra Kolkka put the Broncos in a 0-2 hole.
After the break, the two teams continued to play neck-and-neck, as neither school led the third game by more than two points until an SMC attack error gave SCU a 21-18 lead late. That moment came in the middle of a 4-0 Santa Clara run which featured a pair of kills from Dowd and two blocks from Lowe. A 3-0 run by Saint Mary's cut it to 24-22, but a 5-1 SCU run behind two kills by McGiven and one by Cmaylo gave the Broncos some breathing room at 29-23, and McGiven again stepped up with the deciding kill to quell a 4-0 run by the Gaels to end the game.
The momentum kept up on the Broncos' end in the fourth stanza, as Lowe's outstanding play helped carry the team to a 16-10 lead. But Saint Mary's continued to fight, going for the deciding win as the Gaels battled back from a 24-18 deficit later in the game. An 8-3 run which featured four blocks on defense knotted things up at 27-apiece, but Cmaylo and Dowd responded on the next point with a block of their own to put the Broncos back in front at 28-27, and after SMC tied it again on the ensuing rally, a McGiven kill followed by a Gael attack error gave SCU 30 points and sent things to a deciding fifth game.
With the Leavey Center crowd rocking and the SCU Pep Band getting the crowd whipped up into a frenzy, the Broncos stormed out to a 4-1 lead in the deciding frame after a pair of SMC attack errors. But, as was the case in the final four games Satruday, things drew even, and SCU fought hard to hold off repeated SMC attempts to overcome the deficit. Finally, with the score 9-8 in Santa Clara's favor, two kills from Lowe and an ace from McGiven got SCU out to a 12-8 lead. After a kill from Kolkka, Lowe responded on SCU's behalf with two kills of her own to put SCU at match point at 14-9. Despite a 3-0 run which made things interesting at the end, Lowe capped off her dominating performance with her final kill to complete Santa Clara's dramatic come-from-behind win.
"This win is huge, we have to get a certain number of wins to even make the tournament right now, and this is one of those that we had to have before we go on the road," Wallace said. "Hopefully now we will be much better with the energy from this win carrying over into next weekend, and hopefully for the rest of this conference season and into the NCAA Tournament."
"We stayed steady but stepped it up more. We didn't play badly the first two games, we just didn't play hard enough," added Lowe. "We just went for it in the last three games and that helped us win."