Santa Clara Opens WCC Play Against Portland and Gonzaga

Santa Clara Opens WCC Play Against Portland and Gonzaga

Sept. 25, 2007

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    SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara volleyball team begins West Coast Conference play this weekend as the Broncos host two rivals at the Leavey Center. On Thursday, Sept. 27, the Broncos will face the Pilots of Portland at 7 p.m. SCU will then battle the Gonzaga Bulldogs on Saturday, Sept. 29, at 1 p.m.

    Last Week for the Broncos
    Santa Clara split its weekend matches, 1-1, to move the overall record to 8-7. The Broncos remained undefeated in the annual Rivalry Series as they served up a 3-0 sweep of the Spartans of San Jose State Friday night. Junior Brittany Lowe led the attack for SCU with a match-high 18 kills and four total blocks. She also collected 11 digs. Lindsy Evans chipped in 15 kills and three total blocks, while freshman Krista Kelley added 13 kills. Later that weekend, Santa Clara faced a hard-fought 3-0 loss to UNLV. Kelley tallied a team-best 12 kills, while Nina Sevastopoulos posted a team-high .444 hitting percentage (5-1-9).

    Evans continues to lead the Broncos as she average 3.69 kills per game and is second on the team in total blocks with 27 (eight solo, 19 assists). She is also fourth on the squad with 12 service aces. Outside hitter Lowe is first on the Broncos' roster with 18 service aces and is second in both kills (173), digs (140) and assists (45). Setter Crystal Matich has dished out 651 assists and 17 service aces, while collecting 117 digs. Libero Caroline Walters has tallied 236 digs, 21 assists and nine service aces thus far.

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    Setting New Limits
    Several Broncos have continued to improve their action on the court and, in turn, have surpassed their personal bests this season. Against Notre Dame, Nichole Clark registered new highs in kills and attempts. Sophomore Lauryn Dowd compiled a best .538 hitting percentage against Hawaii, while tying her career-high in aces and total blocks. Evans quickly set new goals for herself as she topped her personal best in kills and attempt, as well as solo blocks this season. Junior Lowe set a new personal high in assists, and last weekend tied her career-high four total blocks.

    Junior defensive specialist Michelle Luxton handed out her first collegiate ace this season, while almost doubling her former digs record. Setter Matich set a new high in digs and solo blocks, while last Friday, junior Taylor O'Brien collected a new personal best in digs. Sophomore Sevastopoulos has had a tremendous season as she set new highs in kills, attempts, hitting percentage, assists and block assists.

    169 To Go For Walters And Program History
    Senior libero Walters has continuously controlled the back row for Santa Clara. This year, she began the season within striking distance of setting a new program career digs record. The Los Gatos, Calif., native was 405 digs away from eclipsing the current school record of 1,860 set by Lia Young (1990-93). Now Walters has 169 to go and has 15 more matches to do so in.

    Over the course of her three seasons at Santa Clara, Walters has compiled a career total of 1,692 digs and earned two All-WCC honors. Be sure to continue to check for updates as Walters closes in on making school history.

    Broncos Make Appearances In Record Books
    Lowe, whose career kills average is 3.23, entered the Broncos record books this season. She is ranked eighth on the all-time list. She also has compiled a 2.93 career digs average, which places her at the No. 6 spot in that all-time category. Matich enters a new category as she ranks third in all-time hitting percentage (.323). She also holds steady at No. 5 in career assists with 3,600 and climbs one spot to No. 3 in all-time assists average, dishing out 11.61 per game. After last weekend's six service aces, Matich moves into the all-time aces category, claiming the No. 9 spot with 107 total.

    In single season records, Matich assists average of 12.76 gives her the No. 10 spot. Walters captured the top two spots in digs average. In her first season with the Broncos she set a new digs per game mark with 4.93. Thus far this season, she has averaged 4.63, which is good for second place in the same category.

    Santa Clara In The WCC
    With the final West Coast Conference statistics released before the inclusion of league action, the Broncos rank in the top half in three categories. Santa Clara is third in assists, and fourth in both kills and digs. SCU also has five athletes ranked individually.

    Opposite hitter Evans holds onto the No. 8 spot in kills per game with 3.69 and claims ninth place in points with 4.21 per game. Outside hitter Lowe drops one spot to No. 10 with 3.53 kills per game and enters the service aces category at No. 8. In assists, Matich continues to claim second place with 12.76 per game, while Walters is now second in the league in digs per game, averaging 4.63.

    Scouting Portland
    The Pilots of Portland will be the Broncos first conference opponent of the season. Portland enters Thursday night's match with a 7-6 record. In their last outing, the Pilots snapped their four-match losing streak with a 3-0 sweep of tournament hosts Brown University. Maria Clemens led the way for Portland with 16 kills, while Jennifer Sheedy added 14 kills and Ashley Grayson chipped in with 13 kills and a match-high .409 hitting percentage (13-4-22).

    Grayson and Clemens are tied for first on the Pilots roster in kills. The duo both tallied 164 kills this season. Grayson also added to her total blocks last weekend, bringing her total to 45 (eight solo, 37 assists). In service aces, Clemens led the group with 22 total. Meanwhile, Kara Pein has dished out 509 assists and Danielle Dupar has collected 190 digs.

    Santa Clara leads the series against Portland with a 36-7 all-time record and is currently riding a 24 match-win streak in the series that dates back to the 1995 season. The Broncos and Pilots last met on Nov. 9, 2006 at the Leavey Center, when SCU swept UP, 3-0 (30-21, 30-21, 30-18). Earlier in the season, the Broncos handed the Pilots a similar fate with a 3-0 victory in Portland, Ore.

    Scouting Gonzaga
    The Bulldogs enter the weekend with an 11-4 overall record and will face Gaels of Saint Mary's College before battling the Broncos Saturday afternoon. Gonzaga compiled an eight match win streak before a 3-0 loss to TCU put a small bump in the road, but Gonzaga bounced back to defeat Idaho, 3-1, in their most recent outing. Leading the Bulldogs in that match were Elaina Renius and Michelle Boevers, who tallied 20 and 10 kills, respectively. Caitlin Cozad posted a match-high five total blocks, while Alecia Douglas dished out four service aces.

    Statistical leaders for the Bulldogs this season are Renius, Briawna Mueller, Becky Jones, Allyson Powell and Heather Dunn. Renius is first on the team in kills, averaging 3.47 per game, while compiling a .319 hitting percentage (170-59-348). Mueller has posted a team-best 60 total blocks (16 solo, 44 assists) and is ranked fourth in the conference in that same category. Jones, an outside hitter, has collected a team-high 192 digs and is second with 157 kills and 16 service aces. Freshman Powell leads the Bulldogs with 18 service aces, while senior setter Dunn has dished out 642 assists and 14 aces, while posting 27 total blocks.

    As a team, Gonzaga has limited their opponents to a .155 hitting percentage, which places them first in the conference. The Bulldogs are also ranked second overall in total blocks with 147.5 (2.78 per game).

    Santa Clara leads the all-time series against Gonzaga, 34-6, and, last season, the Broncos went 2-0 against the Bulldogs. The team's last met at the Leavey Center on Nov. 11, with Santa Clara blanking Gonzaga, 3-0 (30-27, 30-28, 30-27) in a very tight match. Earlier in the season, the Broncos rallied to a 3-2 victory over the Bulldogs in Spokane, Wash.

    On Deck
    SCU continues WCC action on Thursday, Oct. 4, in San Diego, Calif. The Broncos and Toreros will battle it out on ESPNU at 8 p.m., PT at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. Santa Clara will then return to the Bay Area to face San Francisco on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 1 p.m.

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