Santa Clara's volleyball hits the road this weekend with a tough task. First the Broncos play at No. 18 San Diego on Thurs., Nov. 11 at 7 pm and then they will play at Saint Mary's on Sat., Nov. 13 at 7 pm. USD is in first place and Saint Mary's holds down second place in the WCC.
Santa Clara is 14-11 and 5-6 in the WCC entering the weekend. Santa Clara has won three of its last five matches, including a series sweep of Gonzaga and Portland last weekend.
San Diego, winners of its last 11 matches in a row, is 20-4 and 10-0 in the WCC. Saint Mary's, the 2009 WCC league champion, is 16-7 and 8-2 in the league. Its last five losses have been to top 25 teams. Santa Clara lost 3-1 to Saint Mary's at home on Oct. 14 and then 3-0 to then-No. 23 San Diego on Oct. 16.
Santa Clara is led by Tanya Schmidt, who is hitting .335 with 2.23 kpg and .75 bpg. Dana Knudsen is second in hitting percentage at .326 with 2.77 kpg and .92 bpg. Kaliegh Durket scores a team-leading 3.47 kpg and 1.79 dpg. Kayla Lommori has 3.16 kpg and 1.98 dpg. Setter Emily Burke collects 9.49 apg and 2.41 dpg. Libero Bridget O'Hara snares a team-leading 4.72 dpg.
Santa Clara is looking forward to the challenge of playing on the road this weekend. Bronco Associate Head Coach Dustin Moore pointed out both road matches will be very different from each other because of the two teams style of play and because both are very good at home. San Diego is 10-1 at home this year, with only a loss to then-No. 11 Cal early in the season. Cal has climbed as high as No. 2 this year and is 21-2. Saint Mary's is 6-3 at home with losses to then-No. 1 Stanford, then-No. 10 Cal and then-No. 23 San Diego.
Moore said San Diego is tough because the team hits a high ball to the pins. "They have great pin players. They have two of the best players in the league, actually the last two WCC Players of the Year, and one of them will win it again this year. They like their chances of going deep in the NCAA Tournament this year because they are senior-dominated."
Moore pointed out Saint Mary's is more system-based. "They like to run it fast to the pin and they are a difficult serving team so they are a different challenge."
The coaches like what they have seen in practice this week and Moore said the effort will be there for sure. "We are at a point where we are preparing to go out and play hard and play well. We are looking for good results because of that. We want to play a bit of a spoiler roll the next three matches."
With just three matches left on the schedule this year, Moore said the team is looking to finish the season with strong play and avenge its losses to both USD and SMC earlier in the season. "We want to compete the rest of the year in every set, every match," said Moore. "This weekend we are playing the top teams in our league and so that will get our attention. We close out the season at USF next Friday and both teams will be fighting to finish their season on a high note with a win."