In its first match of the Notre Dame Invitational on Friday, Santa Clara fell in five sets to No. 20 Dayton. Game scores were 25-12, 25-19, 16-25, 21-25 and 15-9. Santa Clara is 2-2 in five-set matches this year and 0-2 vs. top 20 teams.
Santa Clara is 7-4 and Dayton is 7-3, with three losses to top 10 teams. Santa Clara plays host-Notre Dame on Saturday at 4 pm Pacific. The Fighting Irish entered the weekend at 7-2.
"I thought we responded well in set two after Dayton played really well in set one," said Bronco head coach Jon Wallace. "We were able to get ahead with tough serving and kept our lead by playing steady. Dayton played well in set three with a lot of blocks. In set four, we made really good some blocks, some digs, some kills - we converted when we needed to. It was a good set for us. Set five was good except for an early run by Dayton."
Wallace applauded the play of junior libero and captain Bridget O'Hara. "She was spectacular tonight, making some great defensive plays as well as passing really well and getting the girls to play well," continued Wallace. "Dana Knudsen played well. It was a tough match for us but we kept fighting. Dayton has size and blocked the ball well.
"We learn something in every match. Tonight we learned that if we prepare right and play right, we will be in any match. We learned we want to win more and we want to win in set five. We have lost two in set five that we want back. We just need to keep battling," said Wallace.
Santa Clara hit .138 with 51 kills, 49 assists, 76 digs and five service aces. Dayton hit .260 with 65 kills, 60 assists, 74 digs and four service aces. The difference maker in the match: Dayton scored 16 team blocks to Santa Clara's five. Dayton is No. 13 in the country this season with 2.83 bpg.
Santa Clara had three hitters in double figures. Kaleigh Durket led the team with 16 kills and 10 digs, but hit .122. Kayla Lommori had 14 kills, hitting .125 and Dana Knudsen collected 13 kills, hitting .189. Emily Burke had a double-double with 40 assists and 10 digs. Lexi Williamson also had double-digit digs with 11. Bridget O'Hara scooped up 33 digs and a season-high five assists.
Knotting it up five times in the early going of set one, Dayton scored four straight points to take a 9-5 lead when Wallace whistled for time. After a Knudsen kill, Dayton went on a 12-4 run to go up 21-9 and then closed out the set, 25-12, by winning four of the next seven points. SCU hit -.026 with eight kills and nine errors. Dayton hit .520 with 13 kills and no errors.
In set three the two teams tied up three times, including 10-10. Dayton scored five of the next seven points to take a 15-12 lead. After a media timeout, a Bronco team block by Schmidt and Burke brought SCU within two, 15-13 Dayton. Dayton then scored nine straight points on a combination of kills and team blocks to take a 22-13 lead. Dayton won set three 25-16. Santa Clara hit -.105 with seven kills and 11 errors, mostly into the Dayton block. The Flyers hit .250 with 13 kills.
In set four the two teams tied it up three times, including 5-5 on a block solo by Tanya Schmidt. Dayton took an 8-7 lead after a Durket attack error. The two tied it up at 8-8 and 9-9. A Durket service ace gave the Broncos a brief 10-9 lead when a Flyer kill hit pay dirt to it tie up 10-10. The two teams continued to trade points, tying it up 11-11, on a kill by Burke, and 12-12 on a Knudsen kill. Continuing to trade points 13-13 and 14-14. Dayton scored three straight to take a 17-14 lead when Santa Clara whistled for timeout. Durket and Knudsen collected kills between Flyer points to make it 18-16 Dayton. Santa Clara scored two of the next three points on Flyer attack errors to pull the Broncos within one when a Lommori kill knotted it up 19-19. Dayton whistled for timeout. Trading points on a Dayton error and then a kill, the two once again tied up, 20-20. After a Dayton service error, a Dayton kill tied it 21-21. Three straight kills by Schmidt, Durket and Lommori and a Flyer attack error gave Santa Clara set four, 25-21. SCU scored the last four points of the set. Santa Clara hit .314 with 16 kills. Dayton hit .176 with 12 kills.
In the fifth and deciding set, a Dayton kill and then one by Lommori, her 12th of the match, made it 1-1. Dayton scored two straight kills and then Knudsen knocked down her 13th of the match to make it 3-2 Dayton. Dayton scored five straight points, pulling ahead 8-2. Santa Clara scored three of the next four points, including a Durket kill, her 13th of the match, to make it 9-5 Dayton. Santa Clara scored two of the next three points and the Flyers called timeout up 10-7. Dayton scored five of the next seven points to take a 15-9 fifth set win. Santa Clara hit .350 with eight kills. Dayton hit .433 with 14 kills.