Fresh off a 2-0 road weekend, Santa Clara, 11-7 and 2-2 in the WCC, returns home to host two of three teams in the WCC on the volleyball court. Santa Clara will host defending league champion Saint Mary's, 10-6 and 2-1 in the WCC, on Thurs., Oct. 14 at 7 pm in the Leavey Center. No. 23 San Diego, currently in first place of the WCC standings, rolls into town on Sat., Oct. 16 for a 1 pm tilt with the Broncos.
Ruff Riders will have a chance to win gift cards from Safeway, Barnes and Noble and Blondies during the enhanced serving contest between games two and three each day. In addition, the first 400 fans will receive a Bronco swirler flag at the Saint Mary's match and Ruff Riders can munch on pizza prior to the San Diego match, courtesy of Tony and Alba's.
Santa Clara defeated Portland 3-0 and Gonzaga 3-1 last weekend on the road. Santa Clara is hitting .226 with 13.59 kpg and leads the lead with 15.86 dpg. Individually, Dana Knudsen, who is hitting third-best in the league at .343, leads the Broncos. Tanya Schmidt is fifth in the league, hitting .311. Kaleigh Durket is third in the WCC with 3.58 kpg and Kayla Lommori is fifth with 3.49 kpg. Emily Burke is third in the conference with 10.69 apg and Bridget O'Hara is second in the WCC with 4.67 dpg.
Earlier this week Bronco head coach Jon Wallace (JW) talked to www.SantaClaraBroncos.com about the importance of this weekend and what the team is working on this week.
SCU: The team played well last weekend and won two matches on the road. This week you play St. Mary's who is in the top 30 and San Diego who is No. 23. How do you prepare for them?
JW: Both teams have opposite styles of play. St. Mary's has a very distinct style that we have already started to implement how we are going to defend them this week in practice. St. Mary's runs a pretty fast offense to the outside a lot like we saw against UOP and LMU, two teams we didn't have success with. We learned a lot from both those matches and are a little bit more comfortable going in to Thursday night's match.
San Diego is a completely different style, which is easier to adjust to than St. Mary's style so it's good that we have St. Mary's first so that we can practice at their speed and learn the choices they make on the court. San Diego's strength is in its physicality and how great the players are. Their style is pretty simple. The problem is they are really good at it. San Diego is a little easier to prepare for but harder to stop.
San Diego is a little bit slower, but they play a little bit higher above the net and are very powerful. Amy DeGroot and Ali Troost are the two last WCC Players of the Year in the WCC so they are having a good season as well as their other senior Ashton Basch.
USC: You are at midpoint of your season right now, what have you learned about your team that will help you in the next half?
JW: We are still developing. Kayla Lommori and Tanya Schmidt continue to get better. Alexandra Palmer and Megan Anders are still trying to figure things out since they missed pretty much all of preseason. They've been back two weeks and they're just starting to get a feel of what they can do on the court. Lexi Williamson is getting better. She hasn't played competitive volleyball in over a year, and she is getting back into her rhythm. We are still getting a lot better and we just need to still find our identity as a team, and be able to go out and force ourselves on other teams and make other teams have to chase us. We aren't there yet we are still working on passing and setting a little better, but once we get that in I think our offensive pieces will be good enough to win some matches for us.
SCU : What a couple things that are important for this team to improve on?
JW: Ball control and court awareness. We have been without Katherine Douglas all season and it shows at times. Kayla is getting better and she recognizes it, which is neat to see in an athlete. She'll be good in the future but right now it's a struggle at times because she is having to do so much.
SCU: This is a big rivalry weekend for your program. Are you looking for a big crowd of Ruff Riders and fans?
JW: I think our team was a little down after the LMU-Pepperdine weekend, and I think we had great fan support both of those matches. The team wants to show our fans that we can play harder and better, and hopefully get wins. They definitely want to show a better effort, and they want the fans to come and see it.