Nov. 4, 2006
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - There is just no keeping the Santa Clara volleyball team down, as for the third time this season, the No. 20 Broncos fell behind 2-0 before picking themselves up and commandeering a stunning victory. Saturday afternoon, it was Loyola Marymount's turn to be heartbroken, as the Broncos triumphantly left Gersten Pavilion with a 3-2 (26-30, 30-32, 30-25, 30-23, 16-14) victory fueled by the leadership and grit of Anna Cmaylo and Caroline Walters.
Santa Clara (17-6, 7-4 WCC) will now return home for the rest of its WCC schedule, beginning with a weekend homestand that features a 6:30 p.m. match Thrusday night against the Portland Pilots followed by a 1 p.m. match Saturday against the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Tickets are available by calling (408) 554-4660 or by clicking here.
Cmaylo turned in another of her typically dominant performances Saturday with 21 kills at a .432 clip to go with four blocks, while Walters made 22 digs, served up three aces, and with her play instilled the fire and confidence the Broncos needed to rally for the dramatic victory.
Kim McGiven paced the team with 22 kills and 13 digs, her eighth double-double of the season, and Brittany Lowe also tallied a double-double of her own with 15 kills and 13 digs to go with four blocks. Crystal Matich and Lindsy Evans shared setting duties and passed out 38 and 20 assists, respectively. Nichole Clark also turned in a solid all-around performance with seven digs, five blocks, and four kills against the Lions.
"Today's victory was exciting again, and was mostly due to the efforts of Anna Cmaylo and Caroline Walters," said head coach Jon Wallace. "Anna's dominant hitting, her great net play, and her leadership out there really sparked our offense, and Caroline was really steady for us in the back row, and she provided the fire that got the girls to start believing in themselves after falling behind 0-2."
"The win felt so amazing, especially because lately our team has been so up-and-down at times, and coming off getting swept against Pepperdine, to come back and win feels so good," Cmaylo said after the win.
The close result of the match was foreshadowed right from the start of the first stanza, as the teams were tied a total of 12 times up until the 22-22 mark. Neither team had led by more than three up to that point, with the Lions taking a 15-12 lead early, but SCU's 4-1 run behind kills from Lowe and McGiven knotted things up at 16-apiece.
Yet the Broncos had led only after the first point of the game, and again at 18-17, but for the rest of the game played catch-up with the Lions. From the 16-16 mark, the teams alternated points until a three-point run by LMU gave them a 25-22 advantage, which grew to four at game point, at which point a Christianna Reneau kill gave the Lions the 30-25 win.
Game two was just as bitterly contested, as the Broncos played catch-up again from the start, ceding a 9-3 lead to LMU after the Lions' Heather Hughes began a 4-0 run with a kill. Slowly but surely the Broncos crept back into it, and a timely 4-0 run behind kills from Cmaylo and Lauryn Dowd and two errors by LMU gave SCU a 16-15 lead, the team's first since the game's initial rally.
From that point, things looked to be going SCU's way, as the shift in momentum propelled the Broncos to leads of 24-21 and 28-25 behind kills from Evans and more Lion errors. But the Lions roared back with a 3-0 burst behind a kill and block from Sandy Krone the tied the game at 28-apiece. McGiven's kill gave SCU a game-point chance at 29-28, but a service error gave LMU a new lease on life. After the Broncos fought off a game-point to tie things at 30-30, the Lions benefited from a service error and a block by Reneau to seal the second stanza.
Down 0-2 for the third match in a row, the Broncos were frustrated, yet still had that ember of hope flickering, as the team's comeback win against Saint Mary's last Saturday was still fresh on their minds. It was at this point that the team had to commit to action and getting the job done once more.
"We thought back to the previous two matches, and we believed each time that we could come back," Walters said. "And on this team we talk things over so much, but this time I told the team to just go out there and show each other why we want to win this match. No more talking."
"Caroline just said `No more talking, it doesn't matter right now, say what you have to say with how you play,' and that fired everyone up," Cmaylo added.
The comeback started in game three as the Broncos and Lions again battled back and forth up until the mid-point of the game. Tied at 14-all, McGiven stepped up with two kills and a block to help fuel a four-point run that gave the team an 18-14 lead and force LMU to burn a timeout. Upon resuming play, Evans and Clark combined to stuff an attack from Hughes and Walters delivered an ace to cap the 6-0 run which gave the Broncos control of the game.
The lead got all the way up to seven at 26-19 after a Lowe kill, and although LMU cut things down to 28-25 late, an Evans kill followed by another McGiven block sent the match to a fourth game.
In that fourth stanza, the Broncos walked the walk and demonstrated the extent of their resolve by overcoming a seven-point deficit on the way to the win. After the Lions had bolted out to an 11-4 lead, the Broncos hammered their way back, as a kill from Clark ignited a 13-6 run that evened the game at 17-17. The run was capped with three straight points from a pair of McGiven kills and a combined block from the sophomore duo of Clark and Lowe.
Even though the Lions briefly rebounded to take a 21-19 lead, their spirits were broken by an 8-0 run in which LMU was partly responsible for. Four attack and handling errors by LMU combined with two Lowe kills and a block and kill by Cmaylo to give SCU an impregnable 27-21 lead. Moments later, a combined block from Cmaylo and Matich along with a kill from McGiven evened the match at two games apiece heading into the deciding game.
At this point, the Broncos were riding a tidal wave of momentum while the Lions were staring down the barrel of their second five-game loss in a row in which they had the opportunity to close things out with a win in the fourth game.
Things didn't get any better for the Lions, as two Cmaylo kills and a Lowe ace gave SCU the early 4-1 lead. Yet LMU stayed with it, using a 5-2 stretch to even things at six. From there, the teams traded points, with neither one leading by more than two until an attack error by LMU gave SCU match point at 14-12.
The Lions called a timeout, and fired back with a Hughes kill and a block from Emily Day to stave off defeat, but the Broncos slammed the door on any LMU hopes right away, as McGiven delivered consecutive kills to nail down the dramatic victory.
"Today's win was huge for us because we still don't know exactly what our fate will be in making the NCAA Tournament, and winning these matches gives us so much confidence in terms of making the postseason," said Walters. "Also, knowing that we can win these types of close, gut-check matches gets us excited to go into the Tournament because we know what we're capable of."
"What we take from this weekend is that we are learning how to battle, and we're going to use these battles to catapult us into becoming better and finding a consistency for the rest of the season," Wallace said.