Santa Clara, Calif. - The Santa Clara volleyball team, in the midst of two-a-day practices in preseason, were picked by the West Coast Conference head coaches to finish fourth this season. Playing in 11 of the last 12 NCAA Tournaments, sophomore Dana Knudsen was also named to the preseason All-WCC volleyball team. Knudsen was named to the All-WCC Freshman team last season as well as an All-WCC honorable mention member.
Santa Clara opens its 2010 season vs. Oregon on Fri., Aug. 27 at the Fresno State Invitational. They open at home in the Leavey Center vs. Portland State at 11 am on Fri., Sept. 10 before playing CSU Northridge later that evening at 7 pm.
Late last week Bronco head coach Jon Wallace (JW), in his 12th year at the helm, answered a few questions prior to practice starting. The following is the question and answer.
SCU: The preseason is upon us! After working all spring with the team, what are a couple areas of improvement you saw after spring practice?
JW: We had three areas of growth that were impressive over our spring season. First, our maturity as players, students and people. We are much calmer and stable in dealing with rigors of stressful situations being on or off the court. Second, we are more fit. The girls have worked hard with our new strength coach, Ron Forbes, to get ready for the season. We hope this will enable us to perform at a higher physical level and prevent injuries. Third, we've learned the "how, why and when" of volleyball. The girls have learned how to play the college game, why we work on certain situations and when to use those skills and tools.
SCU: What are a couple areas you would like the team to concentrate on during the preseason?
JW: I have set a standard for play I believe this team is capable of and I want the girls to focus on performing to that standard every time we step on the court.
SCU: Santa Clara lost Kim and Lindsy to graduation this year, both mainstays in the line-up the last four years. Who are you looking for to step up and help replace them?
JW: We will miss Kim and Lindsy and all 14 girls know they need to push forward and work hard together to compete for the 2010 WCC Championship.
SCU: Last year you started the season by running a 4-2 offense and stuck with it the first month. With Alexandria Palmer and Emily Burke both healthy, do you think you will return to the 4-2 offense again this year or go to something different?
JW: Our plan is to run a 6-2 with both Alexandra and Emily this year. It allows us to have a more balanced attack as well as a more physical line up that we hope can melt together to become a championship-caliber team.
SCU: You are pretty young again this season. After going through a season with a lot of youth last year, what are a couple things the coaching staff learned that you won't be as surprised by this year?
JW: We will be young again this year but we feel with the experience gained last year and in spring the girls have been tried and tested to compete at a high and consistent level. I'm really happy with our maturation process over the last year and we are now ready to focus and concentrate to attain success.
SCU: Dana Knudsen had a break-out year last year and continues to work really hard in the weight room with your strength coach, Ron Forbes. Has she made the progress you anticipated and what role will she play in the offense as a sophomore?
JW: Dana has exceeded our expectations as an athlete and a volleyball player. She is ready to test all her hard work on the court this fall. Dana's role will change slightly as we are anticipating her load in the front row to be greater. We hope to increase her opportunity by 25 percent.
SCU: Are you healthy heading into the preseason?
JW: We are not healthy. Krista will be out for a long period of time. Lexi is still recovering from shoulder surgery. Alexandria has been unable to play due to medical injuries. Katherine has a hip flexor flare up which will prevent her from playing at 100 percent. Kayla sprained her ankle prior to practice starting and will not be 100 percent for another 3-4 weeks. Katie has a calf injury that will delay her hold her out. Bridget has a back injury that only allows her to practice 50 practice. Megan A has a flared up Achilles tension and is day to day.
SCU: You have one transfer from Cornell, Kaleigh Durket. What can you tell us about her style of play?
JW: She is aggressive, fast, outwardly competitive and very fun to watch on the court. She will mostly play on the right and will be a six-rotation player.
SCU: What can you tell us about your new freshmen?
JW: Megan Anders will probably start in the middle for us. She has really come on over the last four months. She's stronger and playing with great confidence. We look forward to working with Megan's untapped potential. Ali Rambis will be competing as a DS this year. She has a difficult serve to pass, which may get her some playing time this year.
SCU: What are you most looking forward to this year?
JW: I'm looking forward to working with the young players, to watch them grow and compete and see great things out of them on the court. They have put a lot of hard work last spring and I hope the pay off comes this fall.