November 2, 2006

No. 20 Broncos Hit Road For Big Volleyball Weekend

Nov. 2, 2006

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Coming off of the emotional high of sweeping a weekend's worth of action against a pair of Bay Area rivals last week, the No. 20 Santa Clara volleyball team makes its Southern California swing, facing off in a pair of crucial matches against the Pepperdine Waves and the Loyola Marymount Lions. Thursday night's 7 p.m. match against the Waves will be filmed and aired on a tape-delayed basis Sunday night at 7 p.m. PT on CSTV.

The Broncos will then head to Gersten Pavilion to battle LMU in a 1 p.m. match following Thursday's contest.

"Without a doubt our girls are excited about Thursday's match, they love being on TV, and we play really well when we're on CSTV," head coach Jon Wallace said of the nationally-televised match against Pepperdine. "The girls are pumped and they are looking forward to the weekend. They see where we are right now and understand where we want to go, so they'll be pumped this weekend, no doubt about it."

Last week, SCU swept the San Francisco Dons in three straight games on the strength of Anna Cmaylo's 12 kills and .550 hitting percentage. Kim McGiven had 13 kills and hit .419 while freshman outside hitter Lauryn Dowd came off the bench to provide six kills at a .500 clip with no errors.

Saturday, in one of the most emotional contests of the season, the Broncos stumbled out the gate, falling into a 0-2 hole against Saint Mary's heading into the break. But behind the career-high 26 kills of Brittany Lowe, which also included 16 digs and a .353 hitting percentage, and the 20 kills and 18 digs from Kim McGiven and the 20 digs from libero Caroline Walters, the Broncos rallied and gritted their way through the final three games to capture a dramatic 3-2 come-from-behind victory.

"We needed the sweep to stay in the race to get into the [NCAA] Tournament and also to keep pressure on San Diego for the conference championship," Wallace said of last weekend's wins. "More importantly, I thought that the Saint Mary's match was our biggest win of the year as far as us reaching down and playing better. I was really pleased as a coach to see the girls put it together."

Santa Clara heads into this weekend currently tied for second in the WCC with Pepperdine at 6-3. Both teams are three games back of unbeaten San Diego (9-0) with five to play, while Loyola Marymount sits one game behind the Broncos and Waves at 5-4. With San Diego, Santa Clara's travel partner, playing at LMU Thursday night and at Pepperdine on Saturday, the WCC conference race could very well either be decided or further muddied up after this weekend's action.

The Waves (10-10, 6-3 WCC) are coming off of a 2-1 road swing heading into Thursday night's match, having swept a pair of matches from Portland and Gonzaga in the Pacific Northwest to remain tied with SCu for second place in the WCC. Pepperdine has not lost a WCC contest this season at home at Firestone Fieldhouse, although the Broncos have captured the last two contests the teams have played in Malibu. Sophia Milo leads the Waves with a .378 hitting percentage and 1.09 blocks a game, while also averaging 3.34 kills a game. Libero Kekai Crabbe is also among the WCC leaders with 4.73 digs a game.

Despite Santa Clara's 3-0 sweep of the Waves on Oct. 5 at the Leavey Center, Pepperdine still leads the all-time series between the two schools, 31-19. But the Broncos currently hold a six-match winning streak over the Waves dating back to the 2004 season.

The Lions (17-7, 5-4 WCC) sit in fourth place in the WCC, behind the Broncos and Waves, after earning a split last weekend up in the Pacific Northwest. LMU was upset Thursday night in five games by Gonzaga, but salvaged the weekend with a 3-1 win Saturday at Portland. Heather Hughes leads LMU with 4.46 kills a game while Christianna Reneau (3.89 kills a game) and Emily Day (3.31 kills a game) also supplement the Lion attack.

Loyola Marymount leads the all-time series between the two schools by a 28-23 margin after capturing a 3-0 sweep over the Broncos at the Leavey Center on Oct. 7.

Following this weekend's action, the Broncos will return home for their final three WCC matches, Nov. 9 against Portland, Nov. 11 against Gonzaga, and Senior Day on Nov. 18 against San Diego. The Broncos will also travel to UC Davis on Nov. 7 for a non-conference match.