September 15, 2009

Volleyball Travels to UCSB and Cal Poly Tournament

Sept. 15, 2009

Sporting a 5-3 record Santa Clara will again hit the road and travel to Santa Barbara to play UC Santa Barbara, 5-2, on Wed., Sept. 16 at 7 pm before playing at the Cal Poly Tournament Sept 18-19 in San Luis Obispo, Calif. At Cal Poly Santa Clara will play Idaho, 4-4, on Fri., Sept. 18 at 2:30 pm and then host-Cal Poly, 2-8, at 7:30 pm. On Sat., Sept. 19 SCU will play Seattle, 3-7, at 4:30 pm.

The Broncos are 4-16 lifetime vs. UCSB, with SCU winning 3-1 last year's Sept. 11 contest. It is 3-1 vs. Idaho, defeating the Vandals 3-1 in its last match-up on Sept 16, 2005. It is 6-10 vs. Cal Poly with the Broncos winning 3-1 on Oct. 22, 1996 in their last meeting. Santa Clara will play Seattle for the first time this weekend.

Cal Poly's coaching staff includes Caroline Walters `07, a former All-WCC Bronco performer. Walters broke the Santa Clara and WCC all-time digs record as a senior. She holds the record with 1,932 career digs and also tops the digs average list.

Bronco head coach Jon Wallace likes what he has seen with his young Bronco team the last few days after taking a step back in their effort level vs. then-No. 25 Arizona last Thursday at home in a 3-0 loss before returning to the Leavey Center on Saturday to defeat Utah 3-0. He said his team had their best practice of the year on Tuesday and hopes that propels them into playing with a lot of energy at UCSB on Wednesday.

"We are still working on our execution. We did a real nice job of changing that energy to a real positive in the win over Utah on Saturday," said Wallace. "The Santa Barbara match will be a really good test for us because they have good ball control and they are going to make us have to beat them. That is going to make us better as a team and hopefully we'll execute and come away with a W."

Wallace likes the growth of his team which features 11 underclassmen and believes the growth comes in different areas at different times with different players with everyone improving overall.

"In kids that redshirted last year, like Dana Knudsen, she is so different than last year and that's a plus. Tanya Schmidt, who played last year as a freshman, has gotten better," said Wallace. "Our freshmen have gotten better over the course of the last three weeks as well. We are still working on their comfort level and it's going to be shaken up again next week with our return to classes, but we've had some good talks with them about time management, priorities, choices and what a privilege it is to be on a Division I volleyball team. They seem to understand that. We want them to learn to always make the right choices."

Santa Clara's offense is led by Knudsen, who is hitting .320 with 2.1 kpg. Krista Kelley, looking to make her fourth straight all-tournament team this weekend after being named the Sac State Invite MVP, leads the team with 3.7 kpg, hitting .258 with 2.3 dpg and .31 bpg. Lindsy Davigeadono, an all-tournament selection last weekend at the right-side, is hitting .226 with 2.2 kpg and 1.1 bpg after working as the team's setter last year. Freshman Katherine Douglas averages 2.6 kpg and has had four double-doubles this year.

In practice Wallace is working to expand the playbook with a few new plays for each rotation as the coaches continue to fine-tune their strengths. With so many young players, practice has been very competitive with a lot of energy and the team's confidence seems to be building. He said Kim Courtney will get the nod as the libero on Wednesday at UCSB with Libby Morrison and Bridget O'Hara continuing to fight for the job.

"Prior to starting WCC play in two weeks, we are going to take the players we have and continue to work to put them in the right spots and make them feel real comfortable," said Wallace. "We just moved Lindsy with a different setter which means Lindsy and Kayla switched. Going forward we really like that so we have to get adjusted to that. It will be a strength."

Santa Clara will continue to run the 6-2 offense with setters Emily Burke and Alexandra Palmer quarterbacking the team. Burke is hitting .438 with .30 kpg, 6.4 apg and 1.6 dpg. Palmer is averaging 6.0 apg and 1.2 dpg.

While Wallace isn't a huge fan of the 6-2 offense, he feels it's the best thing for the type of players he has this year and for this season.

"I feel as a coach you always want the ability to make adjustments personal wise and the 6-2 kind of limits you with that because you are kind of locked into a certain rotation," said Wallace. "But it is working for us."