Retooling this spring with visions of clinching its 12th NCAA Tournament bid in 13 years in 2010, the Santa Clara volleyball team will begin spring practice on Fri., April 9. One of the highlights on the spring practice schedule will be hosting Washington, an annual national power, before traveling to Seattle to play on the Huskies home court.
Santa Clara will host the University of Washington on Fri., May 7 at 7 pm and then Sat., May 8 at 1 pm. Both matches will be played in the Leavey Center; and are free and open to the public. The next weekend the Broncos will travel to the Emerald City to play at Washington on Fri., May 14 at 7 pm and then Sat., May 15 at Noon. Washington has advanced to the Regional final six of the last seven years and won the NCAA title in 2005, advancing to three Final Fours in that span.
"Washington gives us a good opportunity to train against one of the top team in the country. We look forward to sharing a competitive practice with them Friday morning prior to both two weekend matches at both home sites," said Santa Clara head coach Jon Wallace.
"I'm am excited for our team to learn from an older, more experienced Washington team when it comes to practicing hard and trusting a system as we continue to grow as college student-athletes at the level and standard of a national champion," added Wallace. "This is important as our young team continues to find itself and define our rolls with the team and staff."
In January the NCAA announced, for the fourth time since 2004, Washington's Bank of America at Hec Edmundson Pavilion will serve as one site for the 2010 NCAA Volleyball Regionals. The winner of the four-team regional, scheduled for Dec. 10-11, will advance to the NCAA Final Four at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. The fact Santa Clara will play this spring on the floor where the NCAA Regional will be held next year has not been lost on Wallace.
"Our goal next season is to play in Seattle," said Wallace.
This spring the Broncos are working to replace 2010 graduates Kim Courtney and two-time All-WCC player Lindsy Davigeadono, on the court. Santa Clara will be young, but experienced next year with at least nine underclassmen on the roster. Santa Clara's 2009 roster boasted 11 underclassmen.
Santa Clara returns 12 letterwinners next year, including five starters. Santa Clara's returning starters include 6-1, senior OH Krista Kelley (2.8 kpg, 1.5 dpg); 2009 WCC All-Freshman team member 6-3 sophomore MB Dana Knudsen (hit .328 with 2.3 kpg and .84 bpg); 5-10 junior DS Bridget O'Hara (played in 81 sets with 3.1 dpg); 6-2 junior MB Tanya Schmidt (led team with .88 bpg and hit .329); 5-10 senior Emily Burke (7.87 apg and 1.56 dpg); and 6-1 sophomore OH Katherine Douglas (third on team with 2.51 kpg and 2.25 dpg).
On the court during spring practice, the Broncos will work hard to better their ball control and to physically train to be more explosive and dynamic athletes. To assist with its physical development, Santa Clara has brought in a top-level strength and conditioning coach in Ron Forbes to work with the team on and off the court. Forbes is a 1995 graduate of University of Florida where he then worked the football and women's soccer teams with both winning national titles during his tenure. He also spent seven years at Stanford in the same capacity prior to coming to the Mission Campus.
"Ron is doing a great job with our team. He has introduced new lifts and new training techniques, but most importantly he is holding the group to a very high standard that we believe will give us great results come August," said Wallace. "He has brought a great level of experience and knowledge to our bio-mechanics."
Santa Clara is also working with a life skills coach to aid in leadership development. "We are working on leadership development, helping our group mature with better lines of communication. We are working to set a high standard of excellence and our team wants to hold themselves to that standard," said Wallace. "In our review of last season, the coaches, players and staff, through this training, have learned to communicate and express ourselves in a more efficient manner for the betterment of the team."
Santa Clara is getting it done in the classroom as well. The team posted a 3.41 GPA in the Winter 2010 quarter - the second-best in Santa Clara's athletic department. They boast a cumulative GPA of 3.256.