Santa Clara, Calif. – With defending WCC Player of the Week in tow this week in Kaleigh Durket, Santa Clara's volleyball team, 2-1, will play at Sac State on Wed., Sept. 1 at 7 pm before heading to Stockton to take on Idaho Thurs., Sept. 2 at 7 pm and then-host Pacific on Sat., Sept. 4 at 7 pm.
Sac State is 2-1 on the early season after posting 3-2 wins over Oregon State and Portland after falling 3-2 to Illinois State to start the year. Santa Clara is 17-10 vs. Sac State all-time after winning a 3-2 win match in Sacramento on Sept. 5, 2009. Sophomore Janelle Curry who wracked up 62 kills last weekend in three matches, including 23 vs. Oregon State and Illinois State, leads the Hornets.
"Sac State opened last weekend with two upsets and they are always a challenge to play at home," said Bronco head coach Jon Wallace.
Bronco fans can follow the Sac State match in three ways:
After the first weekend of 2010 play, Idaho is 2-1 and Pacific is 2-1, with UOP posting a 3-2 win at Texas A&M after falling 3-1 to No. 23 LSU last weekend. The Broncos are 2-1 vs. Idaho and 6-18 vs. the Tigers. Playing their first tournament of the 2010 season, sophomore Hannah Clancy and senior Svenja Engelhardt helped propel the Pacific women's volleyball team to a runner-up finish at the Texas A&M Invitational. For their play, the duo earned all-tournament honors at the conclusion of play.
"Pacific is a left-side dominate team," said Wallace. "Winning at Texas A&M was a great win for Pacific last weekend."
Wallace's program got a nice pat on the back when Durket was named the WCC Player of the Week on Monday after she had two straight matches with 20+ kills on Saturday. Durket is leading the league with a .455 hitting percentage and 3.92 kpg.
"It's been a good learning process for Kaleigh," said Bronco head coach Jon Wallace. "When you play in practice, you kind of figure out a little bit of the system. Last weekend when Kaleigh picked up her play and was very successful in the matches, we found a nice go-to player in her and Dana Knudsen. Her improvement and confidence really came out more in play during the matches than practice. It didn't come out in practice; she was being nice. But in match play, she went after it. Kaleigh gave us a tremendous boost offensively."
"By not having all of our attackers ready to go, for Dana Knudsen and Kaleigh to be able to get us through the weekend, was huge. She was a great point scorer for us all day on Saturday," added Wallace. "Emily Burke and Bridget O'Hara did a really nice job of leading the team all weekend."
Asked what they are focusing on this week, Wallace had a quick answer. "Our focus is still ourselves. We are still learning to play the right way and play the right way. This will be a challenging weekend. And our goal is to compete as hard as we can and get better. That sounds clique, but that's what we tell our team and that's the truth. We want to get better."
After playing Wednesday in Sacramento and Thursday in Stockton, Wallace is happy they will have a rest day on Friday before playing at Pacific on Saturday. "We will need that."
Wallace was equally impressed with the matches last weekend put together by setter Emily Burke, middle blocker Dana Knudsen and libero Bridget O'Hara was well. Burke leads the WCC with .58 sapg and is second with 10.83 apg. O'Hara leads the WCC with 5.08 dpg after picking up a season-high 25 digs vs. Fresno State and then posted 23 vs. UC Riverside later in the day.
Burke was happy to see Durket win WCC Player of the Week honors after working hard to get in sync in practice the last few weeks and working through injuries on the team.
"As far as the injuries, as a senior I am use to it. I have been through a lot paying volleyball so long and know you have to take what you get at times (when there are injuries)," said Burke. "We need to focus on ourselves and our jobs on the court. The last couple of weeks I have been working on my skills and making sure I am the best I can be and making sure they are doing their best they can do. I need to focus on my job and also work on trusting my teammates. To work to trust them, it really happens in the practice gym. When we work on practice drills and you see them doing individual drills, you see the individual improvement as we do side-out drills and team drills.
"I am really working on improving on footwork and setting which makes my sets more consistent and hitting," Burke added. "I'd like to get better at my defense and being stopped and ready. I want to be able to look at the other side of the net, know what's coming at me and make moves to help us."
Knudsen will be playing in her hometown of Sacramento on Wednesday night as Knudsen attended St Francis High School in Sacramento, winning three straight Delta River League championships from 2005-07. Knudsen is second in the WCC in hitting at .439 and posted double-digit kills twice last weekend. She is averaging 3.25 kpg.
"I am stoked to play in front of the home crowd because I am hoping a lot of the people we invited come. It's always fun to play in front of family and friends," said Knudsen.
Wallace said he is expecting 25 percent more from Knudsen this season. Knudsen understands her increased role and talked about what she is doing to help with her own growth. "I am doing morning workouts by myself so I can stay in really good shape. In the mornings to stay fit I try to mix it up a lot. I am really big on the abs. For the cardio, I run stairs or jump rope and also do a lot of swimming to help with my endurance. I like to swim; I use to be a lifeguard. In addition, I am focusing and concentrating on what is going on my side of the net and across the net as well. Lots of film sessions. Just working hard to hone my skills."
Durket, the WCC Player of the Week this week, went to Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills, about 25 minutes from Sacramento. Knudsen and Durket played on the same club team, NCVC, and they played their senior year in the finals and Knudsen's team won.
"I am really excited to play in Sacramento to start the weekend," said Durket. "Hopefully a lot of people will come. I played with Janelle Curry for four years and I hope to play well against her. Janelle is a really smart hitter and really good player. She is a good defender. She is very smart and uses the block well. It should be a good match."